“It’s time the Doug Ford PC’s take responsibility for the staffing crisis that’s unfolding before our eyes here at our Ottawa area hospitals – and, at every hospital across Ontario. It’s election time, show us you value us and want to retain this valuable workforce by scrapping their wage cap Bill that’s punishing us and many are leaving. COVID-19 infections are also fueling staff shortages,” says Dave Verch a registered practical nurse (RPN) in Ottawa.

As the outrage over how they are being disrespected by capped wages intensifies there are renewed protests by nurses, personal support workers, environmental cleaners, clerical and other essential hospital workers throughout May. There is also widespread dissatisfaction over the lack of gumption from hospital employers to support them publicly.

In what is the second Ottawa and area hospital staff protest in less than two weeks, a demonstration is planned at Bruyère – Hôpital Saint-Vincent Hospital (Ottawa) this Monday, May 9, 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. Provincial data shows that more than 50,300 health care workers have been infected with the virus. 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.

Job vacancies at 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 at the Ottawa site of Bruyère Hôpital Saint-Vincent Hospital are planned for Sudbury (May 10), Hamilton (May 11).

For more information contact:

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