Ontario Nurses Association members
CRUMBS AREN’T GOING TO CUT IT for 220,000 healthcare workers in Ontario. They want the whole loaf: a complete and solid action plan that will finally respect, protect, and pay Ontario health care workers what they deserve.
The five unions representing the workers told premier Doug Ford that in a open letter on March 8.
Every one of them has told him that in every way they can think of since 2019 when he passed Bill 124: a bill that limits wage increases in the Ontario public service to no more than one per cent a year for three years.
The bill also outlaws any collective bargaining over wages and compensation.
“Almost every health care worker in the province continues to work under emergency orders that supersede their rights under their collective agreement, with no end in sight," said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, Unifor. "They can be subjected to schedule changes, cancelled vacation and reassignment at a moments notice,”
A ‘pay-as-you-vote gimmick’
Ford continues to bob and weave on the issue. He never misses a chance to call healthcare workers “heroes”. He recently extended a temporary wage increase for personal support and direct support workers for a fourth time.
On March 7 Ford tried to cozy up to nurses by offering them a one-time $5,000 payment.
The announcement was immediately slammed by a collection of unions representing 85,000 nurses who labelled it a “band aid pay-as-you-vote gimmick.”
“Nurses across the province are angry at once again being thrown crumbs by this government, instead of meaningful solutions to the health staffing crisis,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare.
“Health care workers don’t need more of premier Ford’s bumper sticker election gimmicks, they need a plan that works to fix the real problems that undermine our public health care system, including the immediate repeal of Bill 124.”
The unions have been persistent and consistent in urging Ford to ensure that any retention bonus includes all front-line nurses and health care workers.
The unions point out the $5,000 offer to nurses alone will only deepen the demoralization and feeling of disrespect among the equally overworked broader healthcare workforce.
“What health care workers want is to be able to bargain wages that reflect their contribution and the significant inflation they are facing. They would like to be able to bargain psychological supports. None of this is possible because of Bill 124," said Michael Hurley, President of OCHU/CUPE.
“Premier Ford’s exclusionary bonus doesn’t begin to address the issues fuelling Ontario’s health workforce crisis and hurting patient care. If the Premier is serious about bolstering our health workforce, he needs to repeal Bill 124 immediately – no more excuses," said Cathryn Hoy, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
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