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Ontario homecare personal support workers on strike

Wednesday, December 11, 2013   by: SooToday.com Staff
Local personal support workers are on the picket line, now. SooToday.com will have more on this developing story as information becomes available. The full text of a news release from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare follows.
 
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Personal Support Workers launch province-wide strike against Red Cross Care Partners; SEIU Healthcare president Sharleen Stewart wants justice for PSWs

TORONTO - Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, has given notice to Red Cross Care Partners that Personal Support Workers (PSW) across Ontario walked off the job today, December 11.

The workers have been in a legal strike position for several weeks and recently voted to reject a tentative agreement with the largest homecare agency in Ontario, a for-profit company.

They have been working without a contract since April.

"These workers are tired of being pushed around and taken for granted," said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare. "They are paid poverty-level wages of $15 an hour and are expected to pay for gas out of pocket when they drive long distances to make home visits."

In the last two years PSW earnings have been reduced by about 7 percent as a result of a wage freeze combined with inflation and a massive increase in the price of gas.

Ms. Stewart said the government of Ontario has been warned that its homecare system is falling apart as agencies misuse public funds and exploit the workforce.

"We estimate 50 cents of every dollar given to Red Cross ($143 million this year) is skimmed off for bureaucracy, excessive executive pay and profit. Where is the accountability in this system for delivering quality care to seniors and vulnerable clients?"

Last year the CEO of the Red Cross Society was given a 9 percent pay increase, bringing his salary to $297 thousand, which is 11 times the average salary of a PSW.

About 4,500 PSWs will be on strike.

"We take this action with a heavy heart," said Ms. Stewart. "Nobody wants to be on strike in this economy and at this time of year, but the fight for justice doesn't always fit into a neat calendar. Our members are determined to take a stand."

Day one of the strike, Wednesday, will include a noon rally at Queens Park of PSWs from the Toronto area who will gather at City Hall and walk up University Ave. to the legislature.

About SEIU Healthcare

SEIU Healthcare represents more than 55,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario.

The union's members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes, and community services throughout the province. 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. www.seiuhealthcare.ca

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(SooToday.com photo by Kenneth Armstrong shows local PSWs on the picket line on Bay Street Wednesday morning.)
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Tag33&1/3rd 12/11/2013 12:39:38 PM Report

Meantime what about all the seniors that need home-care? Or the disabled?
Lugnuts 12/11/2013 12:40:15 PM Report

Hopefully they will get a fair and reasonable increase in pay. I think an 11 percent increase in this case would be justified.The Ontario government will cry poor as they should since they are spending 10 billion dollars a year more than they bring in.
phesoj 12/11/2013 12:43:11 PM Report

I back these workers one hundred percent. As usual the CEO's and bigwigs get hefty increases while the real workers get gouged. It's just a shame (and a disgrace on the part of their employer) that they need to take these drastic measures at such a needy time of year for most. Hats off to them!!
Tag33&1/3rd 12/11/2013 12:51:17 PM Report

I definitely back them too for the work they do going into people's homes and the work at institutions! Just feel bad for the ones needing them right now--as it shouldn't have come to this!
scottstewy123 12/11/2013 1:10:38 PM Report

The province better not yell poverty. 1 billion lost dollars for the canceled power plants . 1 billion dollars for U.S.A and Quebec taking our excess power. Theres 2 billion right there. Samsung scandal. ORNGE. When will you NDP stop supporting this government
D0BBER 12/11/2013 1:13:48 PM Report

There is no reason why red cross should be allowed to hold our elderly hostage in order continue underpaying their PSW's

These people need an immediate bump to $20/h with a personal standard vehicle usage fee paid on a $/km. basis.
waterpolo 12/11/2013 1:14:43 PM Report

$15/hour is a disgrace for the responsibility they have. These are people they are caring for. They are providing a valuable and much needed service to the people of Ontario and should be paid accordingly.
Ski-Dude 12/11/2013 1:16:34 PM Report

Agree 100% D0BBER!!!!
Ski-Dude 12/11/2013 1:19:33 PM Report

About time for this stand!!! Here's hoping all works out and fast!!!
waterdragon 12/11/2013 1:24:58 PM Report

These people do not get paid enough for the work they do. I could never go in and clean up an elderly or bed ridden patient that has been lying in there bed for hours in their own excriment. How can the Govenement consider raising the minimum wage to $14.00 per hour and not take into consideration that these people go to school to get a diploma to be eligible to do this job and yet a kid going thru school or just getting a job out of high school can make almost the same wage as these people. This job takes a special person to deal with people with special needs. I think they deserve a raise, benefits, vacation days and a pension plan.

CherRN 12/11/2013 1:46:30 PM Report

Home care Nurses are also underpaid compared to their hospital peers.... we have no union so no option to strike... too little money gets filtered down to direct patient care and this NEEDS to change...
pandabear26 12/11/2013 1:52:12 PM Report

I back those workers 100% I hope it's settled quickly, but it's time they stand up for what's right, home workers go into homes, most times unaware of any risks, they pay gas as well as the upkeep to their cars, I also would like to correct the rate of pay for RCCP are 14.17$/hr, so it's UNDER $15./hr that's an insult to the health workers that do this daily. I work for a short time for RCCP and the demand and expection this company demands from their staff with rate of pay is insane, the men and woman that do this daily for yrs do it cuz they care, but it's due time they get some respect for the service they provide.
Notperfect 12/11/2013 2:23:17 PM Report

I strongly support the Personal Support Workers. These are skilled workers who have prepared for their careers and provide an extremely valuable service!
Less than $20 an hour plus benefits plus mileage when travelling is a disgrace and is unfair!!
Gurpy 12/11/2013 2:40:43 PM Report

PSW`s should receive no less than $25.00 per hour! The work is not only physically demanding but emotionally as well. They work hard!
mema 12/11/2013 3:08:19 PM Report

Not only do these underpaid PSWs need pay raises we need more of these trained caring people to help our aging population stay in their own homes.....it is a fact that the cost of assisted living cost less to the taxpayer vs. warehousing seniors in huge Long Term Care facilities when for the most part with assistance they can remain at home.
These people are an excellent resource but as dedicated as one can be....they still have families of their own to support..and the wages are far below what they should be. Please support these PSWs so perhaps more young people will look at this career choice without being discouraged. Hug a support caregiver today.....we will most likely all need them in the future.
kirby0162 12/11/2013 3:24:15 PM Report

I am a PSW although I don't work for Red Cross, I work for a different health care provider. It is so nice to know there are so many people who support and appreciate the work we do. Our jobs are more than cleaning dirty bums. We give support, comfort and peace of mind to entire families as they deal with serious health issues that impact their loved ones. Sitting with a dying person and holding their hand as they take their last breath is not something everyone can do, but we do everyday. A raise in pay would be nice, no doubt there but for most of us being there and making life and death easier for our clients is where we find the biggest reward. Thank you again for supporting all of us.
mage 12/11/2013 3:59:37 PM Report

I support the workers. I have a friend who's husband counts on their service twice a day and she is in total agreement that they don't make enough for the services they provide. She supports them but hopes it ends quickly due to her circumstances. It's a shame that the sick and disabled along with their families will suffer for this however, the care givers have been pushed far enough and have to take a stand. What a shame.
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Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. Keep discussions civil and on topic. Refrain from obscenity and don't post anything that your grandmother would be ashamed to read. Those who do not abide by these guidelines will have their membership revoked without notice. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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