Last April, more than 200 physician coroners across Ontario participated in a union certification vote. After a year of lengthy legal delays, the ballot boxes were opened, and the results are in: Ontario coroners voted 96 per cent in favour of joining OPSEU/SEFPO.
This near-unanimous result represents the collective will of the coroners to unionize, despite their current exclusion, as a profession, from the collective bargaining rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The union has filed a constitutional challenge demanding the province recognize coroners’ right to bargain collectively.
“All workers should have access to the constitutionally protected right to collective bargaining under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO. “And that should include coroners who have taken this historic step in their desire to have a seat at the table in determining their working conditions.”
Like nurses, engineers and other professionals who are currently recognized by the Ontario Labour Relations Act and who have clear access to collective bargaining rights, the time has come for coroners to be recognized as well. Coroners are medical professionals who provide an invaluable public service by investigating causes of death.
Dr. Jeannie Walton, President of the Ontario Coroners’ Association, talked about the dire need to protect the quality of Ontario’s physician-led coroner death investigation system.
“Coroners are deeply concerned about provincial policy changes that are jeopardizing the integrity of their work and threatening the quality of death investigations in Ontario,” said Walton. “As a result, coroners are demanding a stronger voice through collective bargaining. These overwhelming vote results should be an early warning for citizens and decision-makers about the threat our death investigation system is under.”
“Coroners have spoken – now it’s time for the government to listen,” added JP Hornick. “We look forward to securing an agreement with the province.”
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For more information:
Luisa Quarta, OPSEU/SEFPO Campaigns Officer; 416-709-7451; firstname.lastname@example.org