Union says it will oppose sale of B.C. retirement homes to firm with links to China

Retirement Concepts owns 24 retirement facilities, mostly in B.C.

The union representing 250 workers at a Parksville retirement home says it will ask the federal and provincial governments to reject the sale of the facility to a Chinese insurance company.

As reported in The NEWS on Tuesday, Retirement Concepts said it is entering into a “partnership” with a company called Cedar Tree, which is linked Anbang Insurance Group of China. Retirement Concepts owns 24 retirement facilities, mostly in B.C., including Stanford Place in Parksville and The Gardens at Qualicum Beach.

Retirement Concepts president and CEO Azim Jamal said The Gardens at Qualicum Beach is not part of this new partnership. Stanford Place in Parksville has 234 residents. Jamal said Retirement Concepts will continue to operate and manage the facilities and there would be “no change to our staff and leadership team, both at the community and corporate level.”

There were reports the sale price could be as high as $1 billion, which means it may require approval from federal and provincial governments.

“Residential care and assisted living services are a critical part of the continuum of care in this province,” Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside said Tuesday. “Selling B.C. seniors’ care facilities to an offshore insurance company is not in the interests of B.C. health care workers, seniors, or our health care system. Allowing this sale to proceed would represent a major loss of accountability and control over the provision of seniors’ care. And it would send a clear signal to global investors that seniors’ care and other health services in this province are for sale to the highest bidder. Unfettered foreign investment in our health care system is the wrong direction for British Columbians.”

Whiteside also said Retirement Concepts currently controls more than 10 per cent of residential care beds contracted by B.C.’s health authorities — more than any other non-profit or for-profit provider.

“At this time, it appears these plans would not affect the day-to-day operations of Retirement Concepts or the collective agreements under which HEU members are working,” said Whiteside. “But clearly, this sale raises serious questions about broader accountability in our health care system.”

Whiteside said the union will be intervening to oppose the sale.

The NEWS asked Retirement Concepts CEO Jamal for a comment about the HEU’s opposition to the sale.

“Our focus is on this transaction and are currently engaged in the regulatory process,” said Jamal. “Out of respect for that process, it would be inappropriate to comment any further until that process concludes.”

The HEU represents nearly 1,900 members at 12 Retirement Concepts locations in B.C., including about 250 at Stanford Place and 150 at The Gardens.

Whiteside said the B.C. government has the regulatory power to refuse to issue a license to residential care facilities that have been sold. Health authorities may also have the power to review and reject the sale of care facilities under the terms of their commercial contracts with providers like Retirement Concepts, she said.

Whiteside said the HEU will urge federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains to reject the sale.

The Globe and Mail reported Monday the deal is currently under the scrutiny of the federal government’s Investment Review Division. The Globe also reported that Retirement Concepts is the highest-billing provider of assisted living and residential care services in the province. The Globe said B.C. government paid the company $86.5-million in the 2015-16 fiscal year, more than any other of the 130 similar providers.

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

With local high schoolers unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Amica Douglas House celebrated the momentous occasion of eight of their dining room servers. (Courtesy Amica Douglas House)
8 Greater Victoria teens don fancy dresses, celebrate grad with seniors

With celebrations nixed, Amica Douglas House hosts event for its serving staff

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read