BARRY’S BAY, Ontario--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The United Steelworkers union (USW) is calling on the provincial government to exempt the non-profit Valley Manor Nursing Home from Bill 124, the Act that holds wage increases in the provincial public sector to 1%.
“The Act applies to Valley Manor but not to other long-term-care facilities in Renfrew County,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren. “This creates inequality, both in terms of working conditions, but also in terms of staff retention – all things the government has said it wants to correct in light of the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the long-term-care sector.”
The history of collective bargaining with Valley Manor has been one of either negotiating, or receiving through interest arbitration, adjustments for the 140 workers at Valley Manor, Warren said.
“That process has historically brought wages at the facility closer to provincial standards as well as local labour market conditions. However, if forced to adhere to Bill 124, there will not be parity and care at the home is bound to suffer,” he said.
Valley Manor is the largest employer in the region. Both USW and the Ontario Nurses’ Association represent workers at the home, with the largest number of workers represented by USW. A request for exemption from Bill 124 was sent recently to Ontario Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy.
“The premier is fond of praising essential workers – like those working in long-term care – for their ‘courage’ and for stepping up ‘to ensure individuals, families and seniors have what they need to stay safe and healthy’,” said Warren. “But actions speak louder than words, and a good start would be to grant the exemption to workers at Valley Manor.”
The union has yet to receive a response to the exemption request.
USW represents 225,000 men and women working in every sector of Canada’s economy.