In the News April 18
Human-Centred Solutions Are Urgently Required
Open Letter to Ford Government
The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-Healthcare and Unifor have denounced the Ford government’s “band aid pay-as-you-vote gimmick,” an offer of a one-time $5,000 payment to some nurses as an incentive not to leave their jobs. In an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued March 8, International Women’s Day, the unions pointed out that such actions will not solve the staffing shortage. The exodus of workers is directly related to the intolerable working conditions, working short-staffed, forced into overtime on a regular basis without proper rest and time off and the increased mental stress of being unable to provide the care that patients need. The refusal of the government to repeal Bill 124 and negotiate with the workers on the basis of their demands is making the situation worse.
In the letter the union leaders say “We have put forward real plans to address the nursing and health human resource crisis to better respect, protect, and pay all health care workers — starting with the repeal of Bill 124. This wrong-headed wage restraint legislation is not only cruel at the best of times, but it has also proven to be bad public policy during this multi-year public health emergency.”
What Union Leaders Had to Say
“Healthcare 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 healthcare system, including the immediate repeal of Bill 124. This International Women’s Day we repeat our demand that Premier Ford’s Conservatives at Queen’s Park repeal their anti-worker, anti-women wage restraint law and urgently address the health human resource crisis in Ontario.” – Sharleen Stewart, SEIU Healthcare
“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. Ad hoc gestures like one time retention bonuses don’t raise the base rates and aren’t pensionable. They don’t apply to everyone and leave all of the other health care workers feeling unvalued. It’s time for the government to stop patronizing health care workers and let them bargain.” – Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE
“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. They can be subjected to schedule changes, cancelled vacation and reassignment at a moment’s notice. Bill 124 and temporary bonuses for some, do nothing for the morale of these dedicated workers who make up a significant part of the team that provides great health care every single day.” – Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, Unifor
“Nurses across the province are angry at once again being thrown crumbs by this government, instead of meaningful solutions to the health staffing crisis. 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.” – Cathryn Hoy, President, Ontario Nurses’ Association
Workers’ Forum, posted April 18, 2022.