Peterborough – Some 50 registered nurses and registered practical nurses working at We Care Home Health Services in Peterborough have voted overwhelmingly in favour of becoming members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
A number of workplace issues led the nurses to seek union representation. Some 90 per cent of them are part-time workers who have been seeking full-time positions for years. The expectations for nurses on call are not only unmanageable, but they also jeopardize the nurses’ physical and mental health. Workers are also looking for a restoration of sick leave, which the employer abruptly eliminated two years ago, as well as bereavement leave.
“These nurses work extremely hard to help individuals maintain their independence,” said Lucy Morton, chair of OPSEU’s Community Health Care Professionals Sector. “Not only do they greatly improve the quality of life of their clients, but they save the treasury millions by allowing people to stay in their homes and retirement homes, rather than putting them in institutionalized care.
“We Care nurses knew they wanted to join a union,” Morton continued, “and they knew that OPSEU, which already represents thousands of nurses across the province, was the right fit. Now these dedicated professionals will have a single, strong, and equal voice at the bargaining table.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was also pleased with the results of the vote.
“As a registered practical nurse myself for most of my adult life, I’m particularly sensitive to the challenges that Ontario’s hardworking nurses face. I know the sacrifices on their time and family life. I know the long and exhausting hours they put in, day or night. And I know that, far too often, they don’t receive half the appreciation and recognition they richly deserve.
“In this case, the employer cut off all paid sick days – and these are professionals who deal with sick individuals all day long. Can you imagine the risk that poses, both to the nurses and their clients? This kind of action is as mean-spirited as it is irresponsible.
“So I salute the nurses at New Care, I congratulate them for choosing OPSEU, and I warmly welcome them to OPSEU. I’ll be following closely as they negotiate a better working life.”
We Care Home Health Services provides a wide range of health care and support services to clients of all ages in their homes, in assisted-living facilities and long-term care facilities, and hospitals.
For more information: Lucy Morton, 905-317-9464