RENFREW – Front line professional and support staff at Canada’s largest private sector provider of home care say they are being pushed towards a strike that could soon affect patients between Arnprior, Deep River and Barry’s Bay.
Paramed Home Health Care is pressuring workers in Renfrew County to accept a deal that will extend the freeze on their wages for a total of five years.
Starting wage for Paramed Home Health Care is $12.88 an hour for a home support worker. For that they are expected to provide their own vehicle to shuttle between appointments.
That’s below the poverty line, and made especially dire by the fact that most of these workers – predominantly women – are limited to part-time hours.
This contrasts with the CEO of Extendicare, the corporation which owns Paramed. In 2012 Business Week reported CEO Timonthy Lukenda earned $1.129 million in compensation.
Now Paramed says it cannot offer their Renfrew workers – which also include personal support workers, nurses and clerical staff — anything better for the next three years.
This is despite the fact that home care is the one sector where the government has been providing funding increases. Last year it was six per cent. This year the proposed increase for the sector was intended to be five per cent.
Depending on the outcome of the election, the personal support workers may or may not receive the entire wage increase government promised them earlier this year. The rise in the minimum wage for PSWs was intended to stem the massive turnover in these positions. However, if PC Leader Tim Hudak implements an across the board wage freeze, even these workers may not achieve the $4 an hour wage increase promised to them by 2016.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has been demanding financial disclosure from Paramed during the bargaining process. While Paramed has agreed to provide the disclosure, they continue to drag their feet on doing so.
There are 140 Paramed Home Health Care workers represented by OPSEU in Renfrew County. No strike date has been set.