Hamilton Hospital Workers Rally for Fair Pay and Quality Patient Care


HAMILTON, ON — Health care professionals employed by Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) held concurrent information rallies today at all three hospital sites to draw attention to their demand for pay parity. The members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 273 also hand-delivered a petition to hospital management at Hamilton General to demand action on the staff recruitment and retention crisis that stems from their unfair pay – and which threatens the quality of patient care.

Staff at Hamilton General Hospital, Juravinski Hospital, and McMaster Children Hospital are being paid less than industry standards and other healthcare professionals in the region, and across province. The petition was signed by a majority of the local membership – a diverse group of health care professionals at Hamilton Health Sciences.

“Our members work in specialized programs and tertiary care, providing exceptional patient care – they should be valued for their expertise,” says Lori Reimer, President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 273. “We take care of the sickest of the sick, the youngest of the young, and the oldest of the old. Yet our members are making substantially less money per hour than the majority of workers at other hospitals across the province.” 

The local has been in bargaining for more than a year and is currently awaiting conciliation dates to approach the unresolved issues of fair wages and improved benefits. They are demanding wage parity with other hospital professionals who are covered by OPSEU/SEFPO’s Central Hospitals Collective Agreement. Those covered by the central agreement recently achieved substantial wage increases through interest arbitration and pay equity, which established new province-wide wage benchmarks for all hospital professionals.

OPSEU/SEFPO Local 273 represents over 1100 members who work as therapists, technologists, and technicians in Biomedical Engineering, Medical Laboratories, Diagnostic Imaging, Nuclear Medicine and a Cardiovascular Diagnostic Unit; perfusionists; respiratory therapists; behaviour therapists; rehabilitation therapists; advanced rehabilitation therapists; and other allied health professions.

Reimer says members are angry, fed up with employer’s performative gratitude that isn’t translating to better working conditions. “Yesterday, we were heralded as ‘heroes’ of the pandemic. Those sentiments have not translated into material thanks for frontline workers who have been to hell and back,” she says. “Something’s got to give.”

“Thanking workers for all they have done during the pandemic is an empty gesture without a fair deal to back it up,” said JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President. “Amid a crumbling healthcare system and the Ford government’s attack on public healthcare, we are standing up to ensure health care professionals achieve the wages and working conditions they deserve – and we won’t back down.”