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OPSEU supports ONA CCAC strike – criticizes 16% increase given to CEO

We the North
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TORONTO – The Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) is asking its members to support professionals on strike at nine of the province’s 14 Community Care Access Centres.

About 3,000 members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) walked off the job today over an impasse in bargaining with the nine CCACs. ONA’s last contract expired at the end of last March.

“Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres have no shame,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member OPSEU while visiting an ONA picket line in Kingston today. “While giving their executives lavish wage increases, the staff who do the difficult front line work are told once again the cupboard is bare.”

The Community Care Access Centres came under fire last February for CEO salaries that jumped by as much as 50 per cent between 2009-2012 while professional staff were undergoing a two-year wage freeze.

The subsequent sunshine list revealed that the party didn’t end there for these CEOs.

Richard Joly, who had already taken a substantial increase between 2009-12 as CEO of the North East CCAC, saw his pay rise by another 16 per cent in 2013 according to the Sunshine List. That’s an increase of almost $40,000 to $288,000. Now his CCAC is one of nine who cannot reach an agreement with their front line staff.

Cathy Szabo at the Central CCAC already experienced a 50 per cent wage increase between 2009-12. Last year her board added another $7,000 to her remuneration in 2013 – a raise of a little over 2.5 per cent. That’s in addition to $12,077 in taxable benefits. Central CCAC cannot reach an agreement either.

OPSEU says the high level of turnover of professionals in the home care sector is directly related to uncompetitive wages and benefits.

OPSEU is offering ONA its full support and is encouraging its members to do the same.

“Home care is key to health system reform, yet the government has done little over the last decade to stabilize the sector,” says Thomas. “We would ask Gail Donner to pay close attention to this issue as she finalizes recommendations from her expert review to the Minister of Health.”

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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas with striking ONA CCAC professionals in Kingston.