OTTAWA, Sept. 2, 2014 /CNW/ - Professional and support staff that provide home care to more than 1,200 frail and elderly in Renfrew County are on strike today.
ParaMed Home Health Care has shown no interest in avoiding a strike among its 140 Renfrew County staff, refusing to bargain again until this Friday, Sept. 5 – four days into the labour action.
"This is a completely irresponsible employer," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents the striking workers. "They are more concerned about protecting their profits than caring for the frail and elderly."
The professional and support staff are frustrated with an employer which seeks to freeze their wages for five years. The workers have been without a wage increase for almost four years. The collective agreement for members of OPSEU Local 492 expired in January 2013 – 21 months ago.
ParaMed has also insisted on changing the geography of assignments, making home care workers travel much further without any adjustment to their mileage rate. Personal support workers have only had a one cent per kilometre increase in five years. The 42 cents per kilometer rate is supposed to cover both automobile expenses and travel time. ParaMed nurses received no increase in mileage rates for five years despite record gas prices this summer.
"Many of these staff members can no longer afford to go to work," says Thomas.
The strike could impact patients not presently serviced by ParaMed. The Champlain CCAC is asking the other agencies to prioritize ParaMed's most acute patients. That could mean longer waits to access care from these agencies as well as for patients outside of Renfrew County.
Starting wages at ParaMed are as low as $12.88 per hour while the CEO of Extendicare – ParaMed's parent company – was reported to have earned $1.1 million in 2012.
SOURCE: Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Nelson Ross Laguna at 1-800-268-7376 ext 5445 or 613-324-4174.