Media Advisory - Home care workers know poverty first hand

    Home care workers earn poverty wages to care for the poverty stricken

    TORONTO, Nov. 29 /CNW/ - The Service Employees International Union, Local
1.on, President Sharleen Stewart told the Ontario government today that if the
Premier is serious about reducing poverty in the province he can start by
looking after the thousands of low paid home care workers who everyday care
for people - mostly the elderly - who are also living in poverty.
    "The cycle of poverty is gaining momentum in Ontario, and it is the
Government of Ontario that has set it in motion," Stewart said at a Queen's
Park poverty rally today. "Dalton McGuinty can stop the cycle of poverty by
restoring the worker rights his government and the previous Conservative
governments have eroded.
    Home care workers are an example of how government actions have meant
poverty wages for almost an entire employment sector, Stewart said.
    The current process of competitive bidding for home care services has
meant that home care workers' jobs and wages are determined by the agency that
ultimately submits the lowest bid to its Community Care Access Centre.
    The result is home care workers in Ontario have no benefits, no pensions,
and receive no travel allowance except a mere 26-cent per kilometre for using
their own vehicle to travel from client to client.
    Furthermore, 98 per cent of home care workers are women. Many are single
parents and new Canadians and are easily exploited by a system that puts cost
saving before service.
    "Home care workers are not even protected under the Employment Standards
Act," Stewart said. "They are considered elect-to-work workers, because they
theoretically have the right to choose when they work. Who chooses to work at
a below poverty level paying job? Especially, when you have to have two or
three of those jobs just to get by."
    By eliminating the competitive bidding process for home care services,
and eliminating the elect-to-work designation from employment standards for
home care workers, Stewart said, the Premier could help lift an entire
employment sector out of poverty.
    SEIU Local 1.on represents 43,000 health care workers throughout Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Sharleen Stewart, President,
SEIU Local 1.on, (416) 209-7741; Barry Smith, Communications, SEIU Local 1.on,
(416) 528-9116

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