BARRY’S BAY, Ontario--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nowhere in Ontario has the lack of a real strategy to confront deficiencies in long-term care been more clear than at a rural not-for-profit facility in Barry’s Bay, west of Ottawa, says United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director Marty Warren.
“Valley Manor has a waiting list and is at capacity with disabled residents. Many are in varying stages of dementia, with some suffering behavioural problems and prone to violence. The facility has been understaffed for years,” said Warren.
“Along with an absence of minimum standards, provincial compensation restraints under the Ford government’s Bill 124 prevent the union from negotiating competitive wage and benefit packages, resulting in workers quitting and positions going unfilled,” he said.
Bill 124 applies only to not-for-profit long-term care homes. Facilities that are profit-based or municipally run do not face this restriction and are able to negotiate better wage and benefit increases. USW applied for an exemption to Bill 124 and has not received a response from the government.
And then came Bill 195, which empowers homes like Valley Manor to cancel vacations, cancel leaves and arbitrarily change schedules regardless of negotiated collective agreements.
“Adding to all that is the fact that a temporary $3 increase for personal support workers (PSWs) simply doesn’t address the wage gap between Valley Manor and other facilities that compete for PSW labour,” said Warren. “This not a sign of generosity and appreciation from the Ford government. Nor is it a sign that any real strategy to improve long-term care is on the way.
“It is an insult to our members and a complete disservice to long-term care residents, who deserve quality care from skilled workers, who should be properly compensated and respected.”
USW is part of a coalition of unions challenging Bills 124 and 195 as unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the local MPP, Conservative John Yakabuski, has refused to meet with long-term care workers from Valley Manor and their union.
Valley Manor usually employees about 100 PSWs, activity workers, housekeepers, dietary staff and laundry workers.
USW represents 225,000 women and men working in every sector of Canada’s economy, including 5,000 in health care.