“We were there for patients in the pandemic”.
Cornwall hospital staff are joining thousands of front‑line hospital workers across Ontario in speaking out about their dissatisfaction with how their hospital employers and Doug Ford’s provincial government are treating them.
Registered practical nurses, personal support workers, environmental cleaners, and other hospital workers (who are members of CUPE 7811) took part in a socially distanced rally on Monday at the Cornwall Community Hospital.
They are among nearly 70,000 hospital workers across Ontario currently negotiating a new provincial contract. But after working the past 18 months at a hectic pace in a pandemic, these workers feel devalued by both the Province and their hospital employers.
They deserve a fair contract say their unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare, but they are instead, being “rewarded” by a wage cut under a provincial policy (Bill 124) that restricts them to a wage increase less than the rate of inflation. Bill 124 also impacts hospital workers’ ability to negotiate much‑needed increases to mental health supports, like psychotherapy and post‑traumatic stress counselling.
At Monday’s Cornwall rally, hospital workers asked for respect and better pandemic protections – safety measures which will also benefit patients. In addition to getting Bill 124 repealed, they want the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), the umbrella group for hospital employers, to take several concessions, including language around seniority and retirement packages, off the table.
In July, workers rallied at hospitals throughout Ontario’s northwest and northeast. Many similar rally actions are scheduled across the Province through the end of August.
CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare began bargaining with the OHA last month and will return to the table in early September.