TORONTO, June 2, 2016 /CNW/ - Negotiations have abruptly broken down for more than 3,000 registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers and allied health professionals working in 179 for-profit provincial nursing homes.
The Participating Nursing Homes employers shut down bargaining when they failed to table a monetary offer for wages and benefits, instead holding to a litany of takeaways and concessions including stripping the nurses of any form of job security and reducing benefits to minimal levels.
The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), representing the 3,000 workers, tabled a number of proposals intended to bring its members' wage and benefit levels to those provided to their counterparts working in Homes for the Aged and the Hospital sectors. Homes wage parity exists in virtually every other province in Canada, where many – if not all – of these employers operate homes. In fact, a recent job evaluation study conducted in Newfoundland and Labrador found that Registered Nurses working in long-term care would receive a premium over and above those paid in the Hospital sector. There is simply no justification to deny ONA members these basic rights.
After eight days of bargaining, ONA was looking for a clear commitment by the employers for movement toward parity. Instead, they were only willing to address some minor language changes. ONA is left to conclude that these employers are intent on continuing to treat our skilled professionals as second-class nurses and to move downward from there.
ONA President, Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, says, "To be clear, the Participating Nursing Homes are not now nor have they ever argued that they have an inability to pay. Unfortunately, the employers' focus is on maximizing profits at the expense of our frail and elderly residents and on the backs of its nursing staff. They have put profit before quality care; profit before health and safety; profit before job security and profit before equitable pay for its employees. Our residents and patients deserve so very much more.
"The employers' refusal to negotiate monetary improvements was insulting and ONA's team is not prepared to stand for such treatment," adds Haslam-Stroud. "When the Participating Nursing Homes are prepared to return to the bargaining table with a proper mandate and a willingness to negotiate, ONA will be there. If not, we will have no other option but to head to mediation and ultimately interest arbitration in November. Our goal, however, remains a negotiated agreement that appropriately recognizes our commitment and contribution to long-term care residents in our province."
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 facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association