Dear Premier Ford,
We write on behalf of unions that represent over 150,000 dedicated Ontario health care workers, to address the announcement of a one-time $5,000 retention bonus for front-line nurses. Together our unions represent 25,000 Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) and we write to ensure that these nurses are explicitly covered by any retention bonus. Furthermore, we are calling on your government to ensure workers who deliver critical services in Ontario’s retirement homes also receive this retention bonus.
Nurses remain significantly undervalued and a one-time signing bonus will not, unfortunately, address that. Bill 124 must be repealed if Ontario is to properly and materially value nurses. Health care unions must be free to negotiate wage increases which reflect the high level of skill, the complexity of the work, the heavy mental and physical strain, the dedication, and competence of nurses and of other health care workers. Otherwise, the delivery of care continues to be at risk as the health human resource crisis goes unresolved.
As was the case with pandemic pay, all health care workers have delivered for the people of Ontario throughout the pandemic. There are shortages in many health care occupations and professions. It is only fair to extend any retention bonus to all health care workers. To not do so will result in further demoralization.
We remain available to jointly discuss these essential measures and look forward to your timely response.
Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU-CUPE
Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, Unifor