TORONTO, March 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Arbitrator William Kaplan has released an arbitration decision for more than 3,000 Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) registered nurses (RNs) and health professionals.
Earlier this year, the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) members working at nine provincial CCACs were on strike for 17 days to achieve respect and recognition for the valuable and essential health care they provide in the community. At the urging of the provincial government, our members returned to work following an agreement to send the dispute to arbitration. The hearing was held early in March.
"Mr. Kaplan's award acknowledges our highly skilled and valuable RNs and health professionals, giving them respect they so rightly deserve," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "We said all along that we wanted to negotiate a fair contract after taking a two-year wage freeze in the last contract, but these employers would rather we froze on the picket lines in minus-30 temperatures and impact our patients and families who rely on community health care than provide the same wage increase that 57,000 other ONA members received."
Mr. Kaplan's decision means that ONA members in seven southern Ontario CCACs will receive what they should have had all along: a 1.4-per-cent increase in each of two years. ONA members in the two northern Ontario CCACs will receive a 1.4-per-cent increase in year one and a 3.4-per-cent increase in year two – providing them with a degree of catch-up pay with their southern counterparts. The increases are retroactive to April 1, 2014.
"This strike should have been avoided," she said. "It wasted taxpayers' money and caused our patients to suffer. However, the employers left us with no choice. We were on strike for fairness, and it took the resolve of our members and enormous support from Ontarians to demonstrate to the government and employers that there is broad respect and appreciation by Ontarians for our RNs and Allied Health Care Professionals."
The contract will expire on March 31, 2016, and as the next round of bargaining is quickly approaching, Haslam-Stroud says that she hopes that the employers rethink their approach. "It is always ONA's intent to reach a negotiated agreement," she says. "But we must have a willing partner."
These 3,000 health professionals include: Care Coordinators, Direct Care Nurse Practitioners, Rapid Response Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses and allied health professionals who provide care through Community Care Access Centres across Ontario. In addition, ONA has CCAC members who are respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers and team assistants as well as other highly qualified professionals. They assess their patients' health-care needs, develop care plans, and deliver health care services for their patients in the home and the community from birth to death.
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care, the community, public health, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
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