Nurses and administrative staff of CarePartners OPSEU Local 294 from the Niagara-Norfolk region piled on a bright yellow school bus today and brought picket signs to the Toronto constituency office of Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.
It has been a long strike for these workers – almost six months. But spirits were high as they were joined by Regional Vice President Debbie Tungatt, OPSEU members from Toronto, as well as OECTA members from York Catholic Teachers and Toronto Catholic Elementary Teachers. OPSEU Local 575 presented Local 294 with a donation to their strike fund. People on busy St. Clair Avenue West stopped and chatted, and offered their support to the workers. Passing cars honked, and even a streetcar rang its bells in solidarity.
It is this kind of support that buoys Local 294 members. Despite months on strike and over two years of stonewalling by CarePartners at the bargaining table, these members have not given up. Every day that they are on the picket line, every time they share their story with someone new, they renew their determination to force CarePartners to bargain a fair contract.
The members today had a message for the Minister: Private companies like CarePartners introduce a thick layer of private-sector fat in the public home- and community-care system. These companies, with their bloated executive salaries, should not be allowed to rack up profits while patients and employees suffer.
Dr. Hoskins was not in his office today. A report about issues with patient care since the strike began was given to a constituency assistant to forward to the minister.