Unifor leaders joined health care union leaders and opposition party leaders in Ontario to demand urgent action on the crisis in hospitals in a virtual news conference on January 10.
The emergency summit was convened by Ontario Liberal leader Stephen Del Duca, and included Unifor Assistant to the President Katha Fortier and Health Care Director Andy Savela.
“There was unanimous concern for the state of Ontario hospitals, and health care in general, as every leader on the call shared similar testimonials from nurses, PSW’s and other workers across the acute and long-term care sectors,” said Katha Fortier. “Of major and urgent concern is Bill 124 which must be repealed if we hope to address the fundamental issues plaguing our health care system.”
Bill 124 limits hospital workers’ and not-for-profit long-term care workers’ compensation to 1% for three years. Fortier stressed that rate of pay amounts to a pay cut after accounting for inflation and in no way honours or respects the frontline workers who have struggled through nearly two years of this pandemic.
“Unifor is demanding a reinstatement of pandemic pay for every Ontario health care worker covered under the emergency orders that can supersede their collective agreement by changing their schedules, cancelling vacation time, or reassigning or redeploying workers to another facility,” said Fortier.
Unifor representatives also drew attention to the government’s excessive waste in using expensive private agencies for nurses and PSWs.
“There’s clearly money in the system to invest in health care if they’re paying agencies double or more what our members in hospitals or nursing homes make,” said Andy Savela, Unifor Health Care Director. “We must move to creating full-time jobs with paid sick days rather than wasting resources on for-profit models that only worsen the problem.”
“We’re at a real crossroads in the health care system and the Ford government needs to take this opportunity to invest in the people who save Ontarians’ lives each and every day,” said Fortier.