Thomas to Minister Coteau: Step in at Morton House

Barrie – Faced with an employer blaming the province for the low wages it pays its workers, the union representing workers at Morton House in Barrie is calling on Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau to step in.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 355 has been in negotiations with their employer for 11 months. The 16-member bargaining unit, which works with male youth involved with the justice system, was forced to vote on strike action in January when the employer would not agree to raise wages that have been frozen for 15 years.

“While hiding behind ‘ministry instructions,’ and crying poor at the bargaining table, Morton House continues to find funding for costly and unnecessary upgrades,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “This is not acceptable. Staff at Morton House are making between $6 and $8 less an hour than is the standard at similar organizations, and many if not all employees have had to take on second and third jobs to make ends meet.

“Quality of care is sacrificed when workers are forced to take on a patchwork of part-time jobs, and when the faces of care providers are constantly changing due to turnover.”

The OPSEU President called on Minister Coteau to contact Morton House Executive Director Eric Evans, and “tell him to start valuing the work of his employees by paying them fairly.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931