Dear Premier Ford,
On behalf of 220,000 union members in the health care system, and more than 18,000 nursing students, we are once again cautioning you against further demoralizing the workforce by providing one-time payments to some, but not all, health care workers. While retaining nurses is vitally important, there are shortages in many health care occupations and professions, and it is appropriate to extend any retention bonus to all health care workers.
We have put forward real plans to address the nursing and health human resource crisis because the short-term incentives are not working. The crisis rages on and requires urgent action to better respect, protect, and pay all healthcare 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.
While you’re promising up to five-thousand dollars for nurses, what they really want is the support to do their jobs well and to do them safely. They want to be able to bargain wage increases that reflect their worth and the significant inflation they are facing. Absent a real plan to confront Ontario’s chronic staffing shortage, nurses, personal support workers and other dedicated health professionals see these short-term promises for what they are: pay-as-you-vote gimmicks.
Ultimately the public will continue to experience longer wait times for health care services because the province fails to put forward a health human resource strategy that works.
As always, we remain available to jointly discuss what is required to fix our worsening health care system.
Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare
Cathryn Hoy, President, Ontario Nurses’ Association
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU-CUPE
Katha Fortier, Assistant to the National President, Unifor