Health care unions respond to Minister Fullerton’s new long-term care staffing group

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A colourful graphic reads: 'Respect Us. Protect Us. Pay Us."

Failure to involve unions while including nursing home lobbyists will skew outcomes in favour of employers instead of seniors and frontline staff

TORONTO — SEIU Healthcare, CUPE, and Unifor, unions representing 175,000 frontline health care workers in Ontario, issued the following statement in response to Minister Fullerton’s new long-term care Staffing Supply Accelerator Group. The joint-statement can be attributed to Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare, Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President of Unifor, and Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario:

“If the past two years have showed us anything it is that Minister Fullerton doesn’t understand the needs of the workers serving on the frontline of Ontario’s nursing homes. Just last week she testified at Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission that she wasn’t sure why workers were leaving the sector, despite repeated demands from workers about the need for a living wage, full-time jobs, and benefits like paid sick leave.

Rather than listening to cries from frontline heroes, Premier Ford’s government continues to cater to the whispers of backroom lobbyists. The failure to involve unions in the new long-term care Staffing Supply Accelerator Group, while including nursing home lobbyists, will skew outcomes in favour of employers instead of seniors and staff.

We reject the inclusion of Miranda Ferrier as a legitimate representative of personal support workers (PSWs) or any other health care worker. Not only does OPSWA represent very few PSWs, but they also have a seemingly incestuous governance model that raises serious concerns. Her advocacy promotes gig-work, which serves employers more than it serves seniors or workers. You can’t speak for workers while also receiving money from nursing home corporations that lobby for anti-worker policies, which have proven disastrous during the pandemic.

After refusing to hold big nursing home corporations accountable for ongoing failures, this announcement says nothing except business as usual.

Strategies to resolve the recruitment and retention challenges can only succeed once health care workers receive the respect, protection and pay they deserve. On those measures Minister Fullerton continues to fail. Supply will not solve the staff retention crisis; only better conditions of employment can end the revolving door of exploitative work.”

Corey Johnson
SEIU Healthcare Communications

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications

Kathleen O’Keefe
Unifor Communications