Latest Labour News

Manitoba Announces ‘Risk Recognition Program’ and MAHCP responds

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

Today, more than three weeks after the federal government announced a joint federal-provincial low-wage top-up program for essential workers and over a month after other jurisdictions such as Ontario announced “pandemic pay” for front-line workers, Premier Pallister finally announced details of Manitoba’s program.

The Provincial Government is calling it a “Risk Recognition Program,” but that name is misleading. Our members’ safety is never for sale, nor does this program recognize everyone who has put themselves at risk to serve Manitobans through this pandemic. The government’s program is actually a low-wage top-up program primarily aimed at workers in multiple industries and sectors who worked at least 200 hours in the ten weeks between March 20, 2020 and May 29, 2020 but who earned no more than $2500 per month. MAHCP has not been provided further details on the program but we anticipate that the vast majority of MAHCP members will not be eligible based on the government’s decision. The online application for the program will be posted on the Provincial Government’s COVID-19 website tomorrow.

The government news release is available here and eligibility criteria are now listed on the Provincial website, along with a list of eligible organizations and positions. The government’s criteria appear to exclude most MAHCP members based on income, employer and/or classification. We will update you as soon as we have clearer answers.

MAHCP’s position has been clear from the outset. There is no question that low-wage essential workers, many of whom do not have the benefit of union representation, deserve to be recognized. During recent consultations, we reminded the Province that Allied Health Professionals have also continued to show up to provide essential care and services during this pandemic and have put themselves at significant risk in doing so.

MAHCP will not lend our name or support to any government process that pits worker against worker. We are not part of any so-called “consensus.” At the end of the day, this is a provincial government program and the final decision on program eligibility was theirs. They have created an overly complicated and inconsistent program that is likely to include some front-line Allied Health Professionals who put their own safety and that of their families on the line during the height of the pandemic, but that will exclude others who did so.

The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals (MAHCP) joined other health care unions more than two months ago to put forward a proposal for the provincial government to recognize all health care workers for their extraordinary service during this pandemic. Premier Pallister and his government have ignored that request.

MAHCP will continue to advocate for all Allied Health Professionals to be recognized for the heightened risks you have faced during this pandemic. At the same time, we acknowledge that one-time bonuses are never a substitute for real increases negotiated at the bargaining table. They aren’t enough to make up for the fact that Allied Health Professionals have experienced years of neglect, mistreatment and frozen wages at the hands of this provincial government. They don’t make one bit of difference to our members’ personal safety while at work.

We won’t be distracted. MAHCP will continue the fight at the bargaining table. We will continue to push for the real and meaningful increases and protections our members deserve.

 

In solidarity,

Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

Unifor welcomes move to appoint new management at Forest Height's LTC home

Unifor -

June 3, 2020

KITCHENER – Unifor applauds the Ontario government's decision to appoint St. Mary's General Hospital to temporarily manage Forest Heights long-term care home due to an uncontained outbreak of COVID-19. 

"The continued severity of the COVID-19 outbreak at Forest Heights clearly illustrates the mismanagement, and are a result of a  lack of health and safety protocols and an effective pandemic plan to protect residents and workers," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "I hope that today's decision sends a clear message to the management of Forest Heights and all other LTC homes that they need to get their act together and put residents and workers first."

To date, the home has had 51 deaths due to COVID-19, and 175 residents and 69 staff have tested positive for the virus.

"The order makes it clear that the spread of the virus is not the fault of residents and staff but of management and Revera, a for-profit company that puts dollars and cents in front of the health and safety of its workers and residents," said Ruth Pryce, President of Unifor Local 1106. “This is also a message that we cannot return to business as usual after the pandemic ends.”

The order from the Ministry of Long-Term Care will be in effect for the next 90 days and will put in place a new management structure to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Unifor represents more than 250 members at Forest Heights long-term care home in Kitchener.

Information about the union's response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype or FaceTime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Hamid Osman at hamid.osman@unifor.org or 647-448-2823 (cell).

 

Unifor applauds investigation of Ontario’s oversight of long-term care during pandemic

Unifor -

June 3, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor applauds the decision of the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate the provincial government’s oversight of long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One thing that we know for certain is that this pandemic publicly exposed the precariousness of the long-term care system that we have been raising red flags about for years now,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We know for a fact that if nursing homes were properly staffed, especially with personal support workers, we would have been in a much better position to weather a pandemic.”

Six months ago, the Ontario Health Coalition report commissioned by Unifor “Caring in Crisis; Ontario’s Personal Support Worker Crisis” was released at Queens Park. The report, compiled from a series of cross-province roundtable meetings with all stakeholders, raised the alarm over chronic short-staffing and mass exodus of PSWs leaving the industry.

As that report was released, Dias issued a challenge to Premier Doug Ford to spend one shift with him in a nursing home to see first-hand the everyday realities faced by workers and residents.

“While we appreciate any effort that puts the spotlight on what is happening in long-term care, it is disappointing that the voices of so many women on the frontlines have been ignored for so long,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “We can only hope that the Ombudsman will focus on listening to those women now.”

The union believes the pandemic has lit fire to a tinder box of problems, where PSW’s are first on the front lines. “No-one should be surprised that eight out of the 11 health care workers who have died from COVID-19 in Ontario are PSWs, who provide the most personal of care, with the least access to personal protective equipment,” said Dias.

Information about the union's response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype or FaceTime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Hamid Osman at hamid.osman@unifor.org or 647-448-2823 (cell).

Ford government moving ahead with home care privatization bill

Rank and File - latest news -

By Zaid Noorsumar Premier Doug Ford and his PC government are moving ahead with their new home care legislation. According to the Ontario Health Coalition, the legislation will further enable privatization of home care and remove the existing provisions of public control and accountability.  The legislation was being through the Ontario legislature before the government’s Continue readingFord government moving ahead with home care privatization bill

UFCW observes Injured Workers Day – June 1, 2020

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – May 30, 2020 – Every year on June 1, UFCW Canada joins with advocates from across Ontario in support of Injured Workers Day by celebrating the health and safety gains won through united action, raising current concerns for today’s workers, and reminding governments that injured workers cannot be ignored.

UFCW observes Injured Workers Day – June 1, 2020

UFCW Canada -

Toronto – May 30, 2020 – Every year on June 1, UFCW Canada joins with advocates from across Ontario in support of Injured Workers Day by celebrating the health and safety gains won through united action, raising current concerns for today’s workers, and reminding governments that injured workers cannot be ignored.

Co-op Refinery spill highlights dangers of relying on scab workers

Unifor -

REGINA—Unifor Local 594 is extremely disappointed, but not surprised, to learn of the major loss of containment from the Co-op Refinery Complex that occurred on May 22, 2020, that resulted in the contamination of the City of Regina’s sewer system.

“With the Co-op Refinery using inexperienced scab labour to operate an intricate and complex refinery, it’s these types of major incidents that we were afraid of when we were locked out back on December 5, 2019,” said Kevin Bittman, Local 594 President. “I’ve worked at the refinery for 23 years, and windy conditions are not abnormal in Saskatchewan, so Mr. DeLorey’s explanation doesn’t have merit. There is more to this than just weather.”

It was reported in the Leader-Post on May 29, 2020, that the Co-op Refinery is guilty of discharging an “unknown amount” of oil into the City of Regina sewer system. The alarming fact that it was the City of Regina that discovered the spill, and was not reported by the Co-op Refinery, should concern almost everyone.

“Our hardworking members are highly skilled and highly trained for these exact scenarios and it’s clear we are the key to safety at the refinery. Bringing in replacement workers from out-of-province with little to no training and throwing them in to operating the refinery is a recipe for disaster," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

This latest spill is not an isolated incident. Since the lockout began there have been numerous spills and releases that have the potential for significant impact on the environment. Picture and videos have circulated the internet of catalyst excursions to the atmosphere, abnormal sulphur releases, and transporting tank cars with the lids open or covered in product from spills during the loading process. These are just a few examples of incidents we have become aware of. Much like the latest spill, it’s impossible to say what else has gone unreported.

“At this point, it’s not clear what else needs to happen before Premier Scott Moe shows leadership and legislates an end to the lockout. Our lives have been threatened on the picket lines and at our homes, and now the environment has been impacted. It shouldn’t take a catastrophic event to occur before the government ends this,” said Dias.

Local 594 will be calling on the Ministry of Environment, and all other appropriate agencies, to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the release from the Co-op Refinery. There are real concerns that once oil enters the city wastewater system that it can easily migrate into the Qu’Appelle Valley water way that many farmers use for irrigation and drinking water. This incident is drawing similarities to the 2016 Husky spill into the North Saskatchewan River.

The collective agreement between Local 594 members and the Co-op Refinery Complex expired on February 1, 2019. Local 594 represents nearly 730 members. The union has accepted the recommendations of Special Mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, but the Co-op Refinery has rejected the mediators’ report and this unnecessary lockout continues.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).

 

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