Former nursing home employees revolt against Westbank First Nation over severance | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Former nursing home employees revolt against Westbank First Nation over severance

A photo of the demonstration happening today, May 6, at Pine Acres Home on Westbank First Nation.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Blaine Mills

After the Westbank First Nation closed its only nursing home in December 2021, former staffers say the band is not holding up its end of the bargain on severance packages.

Blaine Mills was an employee of Pine Acres Home for 33 years before it shuttered. He served on the company's collective bargaining team for the past 20 years.

He says a collective agreement promised better severance than what was paid out, and that the band leadership is not engaging them in discussion.

The band “didn’t consult their membership who indirectly own Pine Acres” before closing the facility, he said.

Mills said members want to know how much it will cost to pay out the severance, and why it had to close. Although the band attributed the closure to mandatory COVID vaccination policies for healthcare workers, “that’s not true,” he said.

READ MORE: West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation say it's time to make nice

The bargaining unit is now campaigning to force a special membership meeting “so that we can get answers,” Mills said.

“It’s just been crickets from the Westbank First Nation.”

Starting at 9 a.m. today, May 6, Mills and some former colleagues held a rally at the Pine Acres property to try and collect enough signatures to force the meeting.

“Unfortunately we have to use this provision.”

By 3 p.m., he said the threshold of 40 signatures had been passed, while the bargaining team remained on site to collect even more.

“Once we hand in the signatures they have seven days to respond and call a meeting,” Mills said.

Westbank First Nation band confirmed that 40 signatures is the threshold to have a special membership meeting, but declined to comment further because it is an ongoing legal matter.

– This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. on May 6, 2022 to add the response from Westbank First Nation.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Blaine Mills

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