OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and Unifor National President Jerry Dias joined front-line community health care workers from Owen Sound and Thunder Bay as they took their fight against “bad boss doctors” to Queen’s Park.
“Doctors take an oath to do no harm, but the Owen Sound Family Health Organization (OSFHO) doctors aren’t living up to that oath,” said Thomas during a news conference in the Queen’s Park media studio. “They’re spending a fortune on private security and high-priced Toronto lawyers instead of investing a little in decent pay and conditions for their front-line workers.
“The new premier campaigned on standing up for working Ontarians. We’re here today to make sure he stands up for these workers.”
The members of OPSEU Local 276 — who work as nurses, clerical, and custodial staff — have been on strike from the OSFHO organization since May. The members of Unifor Local 229, who are receptionists and medical records clerks, have been on strike since late April.
“We invest billions of public dollars in public health care,” said Dias. “We want to ensure that those billions go to ensure that the workers who run our community health clinics are earning a living wage instead of simply going to further enrich doctors.”
Along with Thomas and Dias, the news conference featured striking workers from the Owen Sound and Thunder Bay clinics.
“We do not want to be on strike — we want to get back to work,” said Tina Roscoe, an RPN at the FHO in Owen Sound. “But we won’t go back to work until some things change. Until the low pay and disrespect is addressed.
“They expect respect from us. We would like it from them.”
The striking Thunder Bay workers are likewise eager to get back to work with decent pay and fair working conditions.
“Some of us have worked there for 30 years and are barely making $14 an hour,” said Lori Salmi. “The doctors have told us that they have the ability to pay decent wages, but that they want to maintain their profit margin.
“Decent pay and basic respect is more important than their profits.”
After the news conference, Thomas and Dias led the front-line workers upstairs to Doug Ford’s office, demanding a short meeting with the new premier about this issue. The premier wouldn’t meet then, but committed to a meeting in the near future.