Regent Park community health care workers rally as strike deadline looms


Toronto, ON — Ahead of an imminent strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 22, Regent Park Community Health Centre (RPCHC) workers rallied Tuesday with a crowd of community members and allies to demand a fair deal for workers and the patients they support.

These workers – members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 5115 – provide critical services and programs for people in the Regent Park and surrounding communities including life-saving overdose prevention programs, low barrier support for addictions and homelessness, primary health care and much more under one roof.

“The impact community health care workers have on their communities is immeasurable. Regent Park community health care workers provide critical and at times life-saving services within their Toronto community. They support many vulnerable patients, including those who are racialized, often with precarious status, and mid to low-income,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “Their employer has enough money to reward themselves with raises but refuses to provide fair wages and benefit increases for workers. It’s shameful.”

Talks broke down after 4 months of bargaining, when the employer refused to negotiate a deal that would put patients and workers first. But after 30 years of frozen benefits, the workers are standing firm in their demands for improved wages and benefits, and an internal work environment that is healthy and psychologically safe.

“Community health care workers save lives. They support their patients in fundamental life and death situations,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell. “Their fight isn’t just for better compensation, but for the quality of patient care and the health of their community. These workers deserve respect and OPSEU/SEFPO will fight alongside them until they get it.”

OPSEU/SEFPO Local 5115 Local President Kirsty Millwood says it’s not too late for the employer to avoid a strike, by coming to the table with a deal that includes fair, competitive compensation.

“We provide vital services to the Regent Park community, but we’re facing a recruitment and retention crisis. Without fair compensation and healthy working conditions, the crisis in patient care will only get worse,” said Millwood. “We want to continue serving our community, but many workers simply can’t afford to live in the city we work in. We need the employer to get on board and do what’s right.”

Local 5115 is part of the OPSEU/SEFPO Community Health Care Professionals Sector, representing more than 4000 community health care professionals across Ontario.