Ontario Nurses’ Association Appalled as Ford Government Continues to Fight Pay Equity Maintenance to the Supreme Court of Canada

May 12, 2021

TORONTO, May 12, 2021 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is appalled that the Ford government and for-profit long-term care homes have appealed a recent decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal and have filed the appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to deny pay equity maintenance to long-term care home registered nurses and health-care professionals.

“While this is Nursing Week, and today marks International Nurses Day, our dedicated, highly educated and skilled registered nurses and health-care professionals are being ‘recognized’ for their heroism and dedication with yet another slap in the face by this government and the for-profit long-term care chains. Despite ONA’s calls to end this prolonged fight, it appears they would rather waste time and money in the court than see these mostly female professionals paid equitably,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN.

“The courts have been clear: the fundamental purpose of the Pay Equity Act is to redress systemic discrimination in compensation,” she says. “To do so, there must be an ongoing comparison between male and female job classes. Yet for 15 years, government and the long-term care for-profits have fought pay equity maintenance. The government and these greedy for-profits appealed the latest decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal on May 9, the eve of Nursing Week.”

McKenna has been urging the Ford government and for-profit nursing homes to end their battle against female-dominated health-care professionals. She also urges the government and for-profit nursing homes to respect fundamental human rights – especially during a time when a global pandemic has taken such a terrible toll on these care providers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted nurses and health-care workers in these for-profit homes,” notes McKenna. “We hear the Ford government hail these women as heroes publicly, but behind the scenes, the government joined the homes in fighting ONA – and our colleagues at SEIU Healthcare – in trying to prevent them from accessing equal pay for work of equal value.”

Pay equity is a fundamental human right protected by Ontario’s Pay Equity Act, as well as under numerous international human rights treaties that include Canada. Employers have a legal obligation to maintain pay equity to prevent the gender wage gap from widening. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that “leaving wage inequities in place makes women ‘the economy’s ordained shock absorbers’”.

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.


For more information: 

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240 (cell) shereeb@ona.org