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Hospital Support end-of-year 2021 newsletter

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Message from the President and First Vice-President/Treasurer:
Recognizing our true heroes

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It’s always a great pleasure for us to salute our hardworking and courageous hospital support members. Your efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic – and long before it – have been nothing short of heroic, and on behalf of our entire union, its 180,000 members and all Ontarians, we thank you.

This pandemic continues to expose the alarming cracks in our neglected and underfunded health care system. As a sector, we’ll continue to fight for better, safer workplaces, and to address the ongoing staffing and workload issues. We’ll continue to push for improved hospital capacity and to challenge Bill 124 and its punitive wage cap. You deserve much better, and we will continue to demand it.

We must also continue to fight against privatization. We know that the public sector, and public sector workers, deliver higher-quality health care services, at a lower cost – that’s why public is always better. But, we must continue to defend our precious health care system and push for its improvement – to build capacity so that we’re better prepared for the future, and any pandemics that might come.

As the holidays approach, we want to take this occasion to wish you happy and safe celebrations. For those who must work through the holidays, please know that we recognize and appreciate your sacrifices.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer

Message from the Chair Georgia (Jill) McIllwraith

At the BPS Conference in November of this year, we had elections for a new Divisional Executive. We’d like to offer our sincere thanks to John Vanderputten for the long hours and hard work he put in as a member of the executive. We’d also like to say farewell to Lisa Hovinga, a long-serving Sector 11 member. Serving in positions of responsibility is both fulfilling and a valuable learning experience, and we have no doubt your work will stand you in good stead for future leadership positions.

At the same time, we want to congratulate and welcome Lee-Anne Hofland to the Education and Newsletter Editor position, as well as Deb Black-Smith to the Treasurer position.

Your new Divisional Executive has wasted no time rolling up their sleeves. We’ve had our first meeting, and we’re busy planning for the next two years. Front and centre, of course, is next June’s provincial election. This is a once-every-four-years chance to get promises from politicians to act on our most urgent concerns. Please stay tuned for how you can participate in any upcoming campaigns.

Collective bargaining update

After a successful bargaining conference in February 2021, we had several units in the sector proceed with negotiations in 2021. Unfortunately, Bill 124 and its one per cent limit on annual compensation increases has restricted monetary gains. However, improvements to non-monetary areas of our agreements, such as health and safety and job security, remain achievable.

Next year will be another important year for the sector. Thirteen collective agreements expired in the fall of 2021, with another four agreements expiring in the spring of 2022. As a result, the majority of our sector will be bargaining in 2022. To support these units, the sector executive has begun planning for a bargaining conference to be held in the first half of 2022.

Additionally, our central comparators in both CUPE and SEIU are proceeding to interest arbitration after negotiations with the Ontario Hospital Association failed to produce a settlement. Both have scheduled hearings for the near future. Due to Bill 124, both central agreements will be stuck with one per cent wage increases. However, any non-monetary improvements achieved at those tables will be instructive for the bargaining units in our sector.

Meet your new divisional executive

Jill McIllwraith, chair

I am an RPN at Grey Bruce Health Services, Local 260. Currently, I am chief steward for the Service bargaining unit. I am the chair of the Health Care Divisional Council and have been a union activist with OPSEU/SEFPO for 22 years.

Jonathan Hopkins, vice-chair

Maintenance mechanic at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Local 275.

Harjinder Sangha, collective bargaining

Team attendant at Mackenzie Health, Local 374.

Rose Ann Faubert, secretary

Secretary at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Local 132. I usually follow this motto in everything I do: Vision: together, growing a healthier community.

Debbie Black-Smith, treasurer

RPN for 27 years at the Grey Bruce Health Services – Markdale Hospital, Local 260. I have been involved with our local union as unit steward for about 7 years now. I am also on the RPN Occupational Division with OPSEU/SEFPO. I look forward to this new position and the experience that it will bring over the next two years.

Christine Marshall, health and safety

I have been an RPN at the West Parry Sound Health Centre, Local 320. I have been working for 24 years. I also sit on the executive for the RPN Occupational Division with OPSEU/SEFPO.

Lee-Anne Hofland, education and communications

I’ve worked in IT at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital since 2014, Local 159. I believe that small rural hospitals are incredibly resilient, and I often say that rural hospitals are so accustomed to doing things with so little that we can do anything with nothing. I am excited and looking forward to the next two years serving with some amazing people from Sector 11. Please stay tuned for a Sector 11 Facebook page that will be announced in the New Year.