Outrage at how the Doug Ford government is disrespecting them by capping their wages and the lack of gumption from hospital employers to support them publicly, is sparking renewed protests by nurses, personal support workers, environmental cleaners, clerical and other essential hospital workers throughout May, including at Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital this Thursday, May 5, 2022 – 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Ontario hospital staff have endured among the highest COVID-19 workforce infection and burnout rates in the world. Yet, the Ford PC’s have rewarded Ontario’s predominantly female hospital workforce with Bill 124, which, “has cut their real wages by 10% over the last two years,” says Sharon Richer secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE).
With the wage cut on top of failing to provide proper personal protective equipment during the pandemic and the back-breaking workloads that come from working in a hospital system with the fewest staff of any developed economy, “many people are just giving up. Hospital workers are saying ‘enough of the disrespect’. Some others are taking another form of protest, they are leaving their jobs altogether,” says Richer.
Vacancies in Ontario hospitals are soaring as Bill 124 artificially supresses the wages for hundreds of thousands of women working in health care.
Data shows that the hospital job vacancy rate has increased from 1.6% at the end of 2015 to 6.3% at the end of 2021. Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities have over 32,000 job vacancies. Add another 10,350 for ambulatory health care and the total is over 42,000 job vacancies. That is up from about 10,000 at the end of 2015, a four-fold increase.
Over the 2020 and 2021, registered nurse vacancies more than doubled and registered practical nurse vacancies more than tripled. Nurse aide and orderly vacancies more than doubled. Other assisting occupations in support of health services saw vacancies more than quadruple.
Hospital staff are also angry that although their senior hospital administrators can see the detrimental impact the wage cap and other PC compensation policies are having on staff morale and attracting and retaining front-line staff, they’ve shown no interest in wage increases in the period after the bill expires or in improving access to personal protective equipment or protecting staff from rising violence.
Protests similar to the one in Toronto tomorrow on hospital row (University Ave.) are planned for Oshawa (May 6), Ottawa (May 9), Sudbury (May 10), Hamilton (May 11).
“It’s time this government take responsibility for the staffing crisis that’s unfolding before our eyes here at Sick Kid’s and at every hospital in Toronto and start to show that they value us by scrapping Bill 124,” says Leonora Foster, CUPE 2816 president and a patient services aide.
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications 416-559-9300 firstname.lastname@example.org