The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)

Red Cross hires out-of-B.C. workers to staff Island vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

The hiring by the Canadian Red Cross of a number of out-of-province people for non-clinical positions at a vaccination site in Langford has at least one local staffer wondering if Premier John Horgan is aware of the situation.

Horgan, whose riding is home to the Eagle Ridge Community Centre COVID-19 vaccination site, announced with some fanfare in March that the province would be hiring people laid off from hard-hit B.C. industries such as tourism and sports to take on non-clinical roles at vaccination centres. The Canadian Red Cross was included on that list as an organization set to help out.

RELATED STORY: Hard-hit hospitality companies help with B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccinations

The staffer, who feared losing her job if she gave her name publicly, was told her position at Eagle Ridge was being eliminated with Red Cross officially taking over administration of non-clinical staff at Island sites as of April 12. She and other staff hired by Island Health before Red Cross took over were given the choice to redeploy to other assignments.

In the week or so before that, she said, casual conversations with a number of new hires determined that most were brought in from out of province and were given the same basic training as she was.

Asked to explain the hiring of non-local people for those positions, Canadian Red Cross issued a written statement.

“Immediate needs for surge capacity may result in the deployment of readily available Red Cross personnel, while efforts are made to recruit a local workforce to sustain the operation in the longer term,” the statement read. “All personnel are expected to follow public health measures, and are trained in epidemic prevention and control (EPC) guidelines, in addition to wearing appropriate PPE, ensuring the safety of clients and other staff members.”

ALSO READ: Victoria Conference Centre to open as city vaccination site on April 12

The statement also said Red Cross continues to actively recruit for local immunization sites, and is reaching out to local post-secondary institutions and utilizing social media and online local job boards. Local residents interested in assisting at local sites are encouraged to apply at redcross.ca.

According to the Ministry of Health, Red Cross is the only organization supporting clinics on Vancouver Island in non-clinical roles. Other partner organizations are involved in vaccine clinics in other health regions.

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