Ontario budget tax changes, current arbitration law good for nurses and patients

TORONTO, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - The increase in the tax rate for those with incomes of $500,000 or more per year, the pause on giving away more tax revenue to large corporations in exchange for nothing, and the removal of Schedule 30's unnecessary changes that would attack hospital workers' right to a fair contract negotiation process are good news for Ontario nurses, their patients and all Ontarians.

"Beginning to set a fair corporate tax rate again and increasing taxes paid by the rich are good decisions, however the increased revenues should be used to stop the cuts to front-line health care services that are being experienced across the province," said Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses' Association.

"Nonetheless, the budget passed today is better than the one that was originally proposed and I want to thank nurses for their advocacy on behalf of their patients. Many nurses contacted their Members of Provincial Parliament and some even went to Queen's Park to meet with MPPs this spring."

"Thank you to MPPs on the Finance Committee who took the time to thoughtfully debate and amend the provincial budget, despite an unwarranted onslaught of criticism for doing exactly what they were elected to do."

One part of Bill 55, the proposed 2012 omnibus provincial budget bill, that was removed by the committee would have gutted the arbitration legislation governing hospital workers—the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA).

Arbitration is a fair alternative to labour disruptions in the public sector. It is the trade-off for taking away the democratic right of some workers, including most nurses, to strike.

The Hon. Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance, has indicated his intention to bring back the arbitration provisions that were deleted from the 2012 budget when the legislature resumes sitting in the fall.

"The government is suggesting it will again attempt to attack the right of nurses to have a fair process for determining their working conditions. We urge the government not to gut this fair and reasonable law that has served the province well for nearly 50 years."

"Nurses did not cause the budget deficit that the Ontario government claims is the motivation for gutting the fair and functioning arbitration system. We are committed to stopping any attacks designed to make nurses pay for a recession and deficit we did not cause."

Nurses continue to be concerned about the Government Services and Service Providers Act, 2012, previously known as Bill 55's Schedule 28.

"As passed, this new law does not address important matters of oversight that were raised by the Ontario Ombudsman," said Haslam-Stroud.

"More importantly, the governing party did not seek nor receive a mandate from Ontario voters during the last election to sell off public services."

"In fact, especially in the case of health care, the governing party accused Progressive Conservatives of hiding their intention to privatize public services and criticized the shortsightedness of such a proposal."

"Nurses will be watching closely to make sure that no health care services are privatized because the evidence shows that the quality of care is reduced when profit enters the equation."

ONA is the union representing 59,000 registered nurses and allied health professions, and more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association 

Ken Marciniec
(416) 964-1979, ext. 2306; cell (416) 803-6066; kenm@ona.org

Melanie Levenson
(416) 964-1979, ext. 2369; melaniel@ona.org

Visit us at: www.ona.orgFacebook.com/OntarioNursesTwitter.com/OntarioNurses

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