NIAGARA – Striking staff at a Niagara-area home nursing agency say they are alarmed that the Community Care Access Centre is not providing reasonable alternate arrangements for patients who up until recently had been in their care.
The 130 workers say some of their former home care patients are being driven by taxi to clinics operated by their employer during the strike.
“The CCAC should withhold referrals to CarePartners until the labour dispute is resolved,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “Instead the CCAC is placing these patients in a situation where they are forced to take sides in this labour dispute.”
Despite the difficult position the CCAC has placed them in, home care patients have been showing support for their caregivers. Last week Tammy McCormick Ferguson, who communicates through an iPad because of a neurological disorder that has left her non-verbal, sent a note to the striking staff and to the media calling the nurses’ working conditions “appalling,” comparing their compensation to that of “dog walkers.”
“Myself and some 70,000 people in Ontario are able to stay in our homes and save the government millions of dollars because of community nurses who care for their patients,” writes McCormick Ferguson.
During last year’s ParaMed strike in Renfrew County, the Champlain CCAC stopped new referrals well before the strike date and transferred patients to alternate home care agencies based on their level of acuity.
While CarePartners claims it cannot afford to give these workers basic provisions that are common to other professional and support staff in the sector, they appear to have an endless budget for taxi cabs and paid security to deal with a peaceful picket line entering into its fifth day.
CarePartners claims publicly it is willing to come back to the bargaining table, but has not given any new bargaining dates to the union.
Care Partners is a private for-profit agency under contract to the Community Care Access Centre. The agency delivers nursing services including oncology, dialysis, pediatric, wound and diabetic care.