Health-care Union Leaders call for government to stop obstructing pay-equity maintenance for nursing home workers
October 1, 2020
TORONTO, ON, October 1, 2020 – The presidents of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and SEIU Healthcare today called on the Ford government and for-profit nursing homes to end their 14-year legal fight against female-dominated health-care professionals working in long-term care and instead, respect their fundamental human rights.
At a media conference today, ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, said the government and for-profit owners “are prolonging a sexist fight to prevent hard-won pay equity maintenance for the dedicated women who provide care to our frail elderly. Meanwhile, their employers are raking in profits and government is spending taxpayers’ funds on what we believe is a fruitless fight.” Nurses, she notes, are 90 per cent female and have won the right to pay equity maintenance at the Supreme Court of Canada.
SEIU Healthcare President Sharleen Stewart said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Doug Ford publicly called the workers heroes, and yet has not supported them. “Not only did they rush through Bill 124, which limited all public-sector workers to one per cent compensation increases per year, they also appealed the decision last year of the Divisional Court that upheld that pay equity must be maintained with a male comparator. That has prolonged this legal fight and demonstrated that this government has chosen for-profit corporations over the women who provide care to our frail elderly.”
The union leaders say that as primary caregivers, ONA and SEIU members are on the front lines of the pandemic and have borne the brunt of it. Dozens of ONA and SEIU members have become ill and died from COVID-19 in for-profit homes – and continue to be. In a 2018 pay equity decision, the Supreme Court of Canada said women should not be “the ordained shock absorbers for the provincial economy.”
The appeal is set to be heard on October 6 and 7 at Ontario’s Court of Appeal. The courts have already found that pay equity is a fundamental human right that has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada and under international law. Employers have a legal obligation to maintain pay equity to prevent the gender wage gap from widening.
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.
SEIU Healthcare represents more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario. SEIU Healthcare has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, supporting the training and development needs of its members, and strengthening standards in the management and delivery of patient and client care.
For more information:
Sheree Bond, ONA: cell: (416) 986-8240; firstname.lastname@example.org; Corey Johnson, SEIU Healthcare: (905) 695-1767, ext. 3044; cell: 416) 529-8909; email@example.com