(HAMILTON) – Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Community Care Access Centre (HNHB CCAC) has come down firmly on the side of CarePartners, a for-profit homecare agency, in its dispute with striking nurses and administrative staff in Norfolk County and Niagara Region.
OPSEU Local 249 represents approximately 140 CarePartners staff, who have been out on the picket lines since April 10. They are seeking an hourly wage and sick pay. Currently, nurses are paid about $18 per visit, but each visit can vary greatly in time. They are required to do one to two hours’ unpaid paperwork daily and receive no sick pay.
HNHB CCAC had stopped referring clients to CarePartners when workers went on strike. Since then, CarePartners has transferred staff from other areas and hired replacement workers. “With this latest development,” writes HNHB CCAC in a staff memo, “we will resume our regular referral processes.”
Local 294 President Erin Warman condemns HNHB CCAC’s decision. “To put bread on their family’s table, nurses feel pressured to make as many visits as possible. They become prone to exhaustion, anxiety and illness. This shortsighted move is clearly not in the best interests of nurses or clients.”
While HNHB CCAC claims it is “hopeful the two parties will resume contract negotiations as soon as possible to reach a settlement,” Warman points out that it is actually supporting the labour dispute. “They are only prolonging the strike by referring patients to replacement workers.”
CarePartners CEO Linda Knight collects hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in salary and benefits through the Local Health Integration Network, which funds CCACs. Still, Health and Long‑Term Care Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins refuses to take action.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is adamant: “By turning his back on these nurses, Minister Hoskins is jeopardizing the health and the quality of care that vulnerable Ontario patients need and deserve. It’s time to turn off the taxpayer tap until Linda Knight returns to the bargaining table and offers her caring and hardworking nurses a living, predictable wage.”
Pati Habermann, Staff Representative
Erin Warman, President, OPSEU Local 294