Extendicare's US Woes May Be Stoking Renfrew County Home Care Strike

OTTAWA, Sept. 9, 2014 /CNW/ - ParaMed Home Health Care's reluctance to achieve a deal with front line staff in Renfrew County may be the result of company losses in the United States.

The mostly low-wage staff at the home care agency has been without a raise in almost four years. ParaMed is insisting it be extended to five years.

"If I were the Health Minister I would be reviewing all of ParaMed's contracts in this province," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "At a time when the province is recognizing the importance of retaining a skilled home care workforce, ParaMed is seeking take-aways from the workers' collective agreements."

The 110 unionized staff at the Renfrew home care agency has been on strike since September 2 forcing the Champlain Community Care Access Centre to reassign clients to other health care providers.

Extendicare, ParaMed's parent company, reported $16.4 million in net after-tax profit for its Canadian operations in 2013. The company reported a loss of $11.1 million south of the border.

"It appears that home support staff earning as little as $12.88 per hour in Canada are being asked to pay the price for Extendicare's business decisions in the U.S.," says Thomas.

Extendicare also recently negotiated a $42.2 million settlement with the U.S. government over alleged violations of the U.S. Social Security Act, placing the company under greater financial pressure.

ParaMed walked away from the bargaining table last Friday extending the length of the strike. OPSEU says it is willing to return to the bargaining table at any time.

SOURCE: Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: Rick Janson at 416-443-8888 ext 8383 or 416-525-3324 (cell).

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http://www.opseu.org

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