Bargaining 101: Myriad of problems must be addressed at the bargaining table, says Chief Negotiator
January 26, 2023
There’s no question that Ontario’s struggling health-care system has been fraught with problems these past few years: the worst nursing crisis in decades, forced wage caps, and a global pandemic that turned our health-care workforce on its head.
Yet if there is one thing that is crystal clear going into hospital bargaining for our 60,000 members, it is that the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and hospital CEOs must address these problems in the next collective agreement.
“My hope is that the OHA and the hospitals understand where our members are coming from and are forthcoming to make changes that reflect the value and dedication of our membership,” says ONA Chief Negotiator Steve Lobsinger. “Our members have faced Bill 124 for three years, which means that this new collective agreement can be negotiated freely without government restraints. The Bill 124 barrier has now been removed.”
While Bill 124 has most certainly negatively impacted past negotiations, other issues have surfaced that must be tackled in future contracts. “We are in the midst of the worst nursing crisis that Ontario has faced in decades,” he says. “The results of ONA’s Have Your Say Bargaining Survey made clear that our members experience extreme workloads that impact providing safe patient care. Our next agreement needs to deal with workload problems with safe staffing as well as additional supports. Our proposals outline concrete ways in which hospitals can retain and attract nurses, while reducing the reliance of agency staff.”
With the prices of food, rent and gas soaring this past year, it’s not surprising that cost of living is the highest it’s been in recent history. Again, the new contract needs to take into account what is occurring across the country. “Our members have not had a cost-of-living increase in years because of wage restraints. The OHA and hospital employers must recognize that workers’ wages need to keep up with inflation – it’s just common sense,” notes Lobsinger.
Although ONA’s Hospital Central Negotiating Team will be bargaining face-to-face with the OHA, the Team can use all of the support it can get from members across the province. Front-line members can become involved by taking part in the actions that ONA has launched to support our bargaining.
Says Lobsinger, “Our members are integral in educating the public about the real issues that are happening in health care. It’s the public who stands to suffer if real changes are not made.”