Unifor long-term care workers fighting for better contracts
By Pat Van Horne, USW member of the CHC Board of Directors
Unionized long-term care workers are fighting for collective agreements that recognize the increasingly-important work that they do for residents in facilities throughout Ontario.
In particular, Unifor members at Sarnia’s Trillium Villa Nursing Home rallied recently and called on their community for support as part of the union’s escalating actions across southwestern Ontario over failing negotiations with employers. Unifor is a member of the Canadian Health Coalition.
In the midst of the new and spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant, Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi told those at the rally: “Yet again, it’s long-term care workers who will comfort the residents and be their second family, and will sit with them, offering friendship and care over the holidays. And yet, the employer continues to bring concessions to the table. It’s shameful.”
Rizvi said employers must address the urgent and much-documented need for increased wages and improved working conditions. She asked communities to show support for caregivers as they “fight for the respect, protection and fair pay they deserve.”
Unions with members in long-term care have been up against conditions that have meant staffing recruitment and retention challenges in the face of the pandemic and an aging population.
For instance, in its final report the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission documented thoroughly the horrific working conditions in the province’s long-term care system. It provided the Conservative government with recommendations to address staffing shortages, workloads and high turnover in the system, especially at privately-operated facilities.
However, Bill 37, which was improve long-term care and was enacted earlier in December, paid little attention to the report’s recommendations.
(Cover: Long-term care workers at Sarnia’s Trillium Villa Nursing Home on December 15, 2021. Photo: Unifor)