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CarePartners Local 294 members to picket Employment Ontario Job Fair in St. Catharines

(St. Catharines) Members of OPSEU Local 294, who have been on strike against CarePartners since April 10, will hold an information picket at an Employment Ontario job fair in St. Catharines on Thursday, October 22.

When: Thursday, October 22.  10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Where: YMCA Employment and Newcomer Services
285 Bunting Road, St. Catharines

Members of Local 294 will make it clear to potential workers that CarePartners is offering scab jobs, and that new employees would be crossing a picket line.

“It is reprehensible that CarePartners is trying to recruit new employees at hiring fairs rather than trying to resolve issues with their current striking employees at the bargaining table,” said  OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.  “CarePartners should not be permitted to offer scab jobs at a government-sponsored job fair.”

Background on CarePartners Local 294 job action.

CarePartners is refusing to negotiate responsibly with Local 294. The Wynne government is actively assisting CarePartners’ attempt to break the union using taxpayers’ dollars to pay strikebreakers to do the jobs of health care professionals.  

Unlike standard industry practice of paying employees an hourly wage, CarePartners pressures new nurses to rush through home care visits by paying a flat rate of $16 per visit.  But some visits can take up to two hours, which means that the nurses often earn less than minimum wage. That’s not good for patients or nurses.

CarePartners nurses get no sick leave, which pressures them to come to work when they are ill. Patients should not be exposed to colds, flus, and other communicable illnesses.

These poor working conditions create burnout and high turnover rates. Patients need the same nurses over time who are familiar with their medical history, to avoid confusion and distress.  They suffer when different nurses show up every day.

At the same time, the owners of CarePartners — who are simply intermediaries because all of their funding comes from taxpayers — pay themselves handsome salaries and build large corporate offices.  A thick layer of for-profit fat, which previously did not exist, has been introduced to Ontario’s home care system. The result is that patients are receiving poorer care and health care professionals are seeing good jobs destroyed. The Auditor General recently released a withering report on the varying quality and high administrative costs of home- and community-care in Ontario.

 “The public is being robbed of the full medical treatment it deserves. Private-sector administrators are skimming profits when 100 per cent of scarce health care dollars should go towards care and treatment,” said Thomas.  “It is time for Minister Hoskins to personally intervene and resolve the CarePartners dispute.”

Employers like CarePartners should not be allowed to hire new workers to replace striking employees either during a strike or afterwards.  This is why Ontario needs legislation prohibiting replacement workers during strikes, and a guarantee that striking workers can return to work no matter how long the strike lasts.

Currently, Section 80 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act only protects striking workers’ jobs for the first six months of the strike; after that, employers are not required to reinstate them after the strike. This is a provision brought in by Mike Harris Tories and has never been fixed by the Liberal government.

The Ministry of Labour is currently reviewing Ontario’s labour legislation, and restoring proper protection for striking workers should be a priority.

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For more information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU