TORONTO – Arbitrator William Kaplan has issued an arbitration award for a new collective agreement covering 9,000 hospital professionals employed in 46 hospitals across Ontario.
Under the provisions of the award, which will be in effect from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2014, these employees will receive lump sum payments for the first two years, and an across-the-board wage increase of 2.75 per cent in the third year of the contract. The new contract also provides for early retirement benefits for employees aged 57-65, enhanced discrimination and harassment language, and a minor improvement to bereavement leave. The Hospitals’ proposed rollback of early retirement and voluntary exit incentives was rejected by the Arbitrator.
OPSEU Hospital Professionals Bargaining Team Chair Sandi Blancher said that this award does not meet the expectations of the bargaining team or the members.
“We knew this round would be difficult ever since the government’s announcement in March 2010 that no funding would be provided for compensation increases to hospital workers,” Blancher said. “This interference in our bargaining made it impossible to achieve a satisfactory outcome. What makes this even harder to accept is that other public sector workers, as well as hospital executives, have achieved better results. Despite this, we are happy to have some stability for the next three years and the gains we have made will benefit our members for many years to come.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said that he is proud of the work the bargaining team did both at the table and in preparing for the arbitration.
“Ontario’s Hospital Professionals perform vital services and are an integral part of the Province’s health care system,” Thomas said. “Without the work of these members, our doctors are only guessing. We hope that after this contract expires, the hospitals will come back to the bargaining table with a renewed vision that fully recognizes the importance of these members, and how essential they are to a safe and healthy Ontario.”
The 9,000 members affected by this award include classifications such as Audiologists, Speech Language Pathologists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Respiratory Therapists, Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, Medical Radiation Technologists, Biomedical Technologists, Psychologists, Lab Technologists and Lab Technicians.