Bill 124 interferes with free collective bargaining, says ONA
TORONTO, March 4, 2020 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says that contract talks between ONA hospital registered nurses and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) have broken down.
"While ONA always prefers to negotiate a new contract for our dedicated and highly educated members, the unfortunate reality is that the provincial government's passage of Bill 124 interferes with free collective bargaining," says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Bill 124 is the statute that the Ontario government passed that caps compensation increases below the cost of living to a maximum of one per cent annually for some – but not all – Ontario public-sector workers. It is clear that this government is targeting public-sector workers who are female for wage suppression. It has exempted those in male-dominated professions, such as firefighters and police, from the effect of the bill."
ONA has held two weeks of talks for its approximately 60,000 RNs and health-care professionals who provide care in Ontario hospitals. Talks ended late last week with a number of significant outstanding issues remaining unsettled because of the restraints in bargaining mandated by Bill 124, ONA says.
"The role and value of RNs in providing quality health care for Ontarians has not been recognized. The urgent need to recruit and retain RNs to ensure the appropriate and safe RN staffing levels are in place are unresolved," says McKenna. "This province is suffering from a serious nursing shortage and many Ontario hospitals are crippled by vacancies in nursing positions that they find impossible to fill, and by hallway nursing."
ONA is one of several unions that have launched a Charter challenge of Bill 124 but the only one to raise the gender discrimination caused by the bill. "It is very clear that this government has no problem with attempting to suppress the wages of female professionals in Ontario," says McKenna. "This is 2020 – and our constitution and pay equity laws require fair and just compensation for women; it is time this government recognized that."
ONA and the OHA will now proceed to arbitration on March 25 and 26 to achieve a collective agreement.
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association