NORTH BAY, ON – Exhausted by a year and half of pandemic work and working short-staffed, front-line North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) registered practical nurses, personal support workers will make an appeal through their union at a media conference in front of the hospital on Monday August 23 (11 a.m.) to area MPP and Minister of Economic Development and Cabinet Chair the Hon. Vic Fedeli. They will ask him to intervene to stop their wages and working conditions from being cut.

NBRHC hospital workers represented by CUPE 139 are among nearly 70,000 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare hospital sector members currently negotiating a new provincial contract with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), which is seeking takeaways that would gut workplace rights.

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford and MPP Fedeli call hospital workers pandemic heroes, their government is “rewarding” them with a cut to real wages under provincial legislation (Bill 124) that restricts them to a wage increase less than 1/3 of the rate of inflation, which is running at over 4% in Ontario. The province has also severely limited hospital workers’ ability to negotiate much-needed increases to mental health supports like post-traumatic stress counselling.

After working the past 18 months at a hectic pace in the pandemic, hospital workers feel devalued and betrayed by both the province and their hospital employers. Throughout July and August hospital workers across Ontario represented by CUPE and SEIU Healthcare held 55 protests in front of their hospitals to show their displeasure. However due to staffing challenges, CUPE 139 members at the NBRHC were not able to join the rally actions. A rally in North Bay is planned for late September.

“North Bay hospital workers have held the line for patients and the people of Nipissing. They sacrificed to do that, and they were proud and grateful to be able to help. They did not expect a reward. But a cut to their modest real wages and the gutting of their contracts is not acceptable. We hope that the provincial government will walk back from its 1% wage cap, as the British government did in July, in acknowledgement of the pandemic effort.

“We are asking Mr. Fedeli to intervene and do what’s right here,” says Michael Hurley, CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) who is speaking at Monday’s 11 a.m. media conference in North Bay.

Contact

Stella Yeadon           CUPE Communications                  416-559-9300           syeadon@cupe.ca