Personal support workers still fighting for pay increase

    TORONTO, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Home care personal support workers
rallied today in a bid to finally obtain money pledged last year to increase
their wages.
    The workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE),
gathered outside Health Minister George Smitherman's office to encourage him
to get home care contractors to pay up.
    "George Smitherman made a big announcement last year, pledging more money
for personal support workers for the tough and underpaid job they do," said
Kelly O'Sullivan, President of CUPE 4308. "But that money is being kept by
some employers instead of being passed on to the workers who provide home
care, a vital part of our health care system."
    "The withheld money amounts to $1.49 more per hour. Only Minister
Smitherman can make sure it flows," Sullivan said.
    The Mike Harris government introduced compulsory contracting out and
competitive bidding of home care services in the 1990s. The result was little
continuity of care, poor working conditions, high staff turnover, and
privatization of service delivery.
    Instead of scrapping this system, the Liberal government proposed some
modest changes in the spring of 2006. But a year later, personal support
workers are reporting that some employers are keeping the modest funding
increases that were intended for them.
    "The Liberal government must require home care contractors to reach
binding agreements with their unions to make the money flow," said Fred Hahn,
Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario. "Contractors must be instructed that they
cannot use the money for other purposes - it must immediately go to improve
PSWs' wages and working conditions."
    "If contractors fail to deliver, they should be considered in breech of
the terms on which these funds were provided," Hahn said. "Problems like this
underscore the structural flaws of the contracting system. Competitive bidding
is entrenching a sector that is fragmented and fraught with poor working
conditions, to no one's benefit but some employers."

For further information:

For further information: Kelly O'Sullivan, President, CUPE 4308, (416)
529-9600 (C); Fred Hahn, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario, (416) 540-3979
(C); David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878-1431 (C)

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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