Tag Archives: Extendicare

Video: The millionaire CEO vs. the $12.88/hour home support worker

Striking home care workers from Renfrew County were told yesterday by hired security guards that there was no one at Extendicare’s Markham headquarters to meet with them — not even their millionaire CEO. It appears the executives fled in the face of their own employees.

The company had tried to get OPSEU to cancel the picket the day before, pledging to return to the bargaining table later this week.

The Renfrew County women had travelled a round trip of more than 1,000 kilometres to face down the executives who have been proposing extending their wage freeze to five years as well as make other changes that will adversely affect their worklife. Some have starting wages as low as $12.88 per hour. The workers are employees of ParaMed Home Health Care, a subsidiary of Extendicare.

They were supported on the picket line Tuesday by OPSEU activists and board.

To watch the video, click on the window above.

 

ParaMed Strike: Are Canadian workers paying the price for Extendicare’s U.S. losses?

Photograph of striking Renfrew County home care workers and their supporters picket outside of ParaMed's Ottawa office on Monday.

Striking Renfrew County home care workers and their supporters picket outside of ParaMed’s Ottawa office on Monday.

As privatization creeps further into Canada’s health system it’s fair to ask whether decisions are being made based on private profit or health care needs?

As contract health providers become multinational, the interests of Canadian patients may also take a back seat to corporate priorities in other countries.

Extendicare is a Markham-based for-profit company that operates on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. About 37 per cent of its revenue comes from the company’s operations in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. CEO Timothy Lukenda lives in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, not far from the company’s U.S. headquarters in Milwaukee. His father is a well-known dentist in the Sault and owns the junior hockey franchise in that city. Prior to getting the top job at Extendicare, Lukenda was an investment banker.

Extendicare’s business involves assisted living centers, nursing homes, health technology services, outpatient therapy and home health care. Overall they have 35,000 employees, making them one of the largest private long-term care providers in North America.

Extendicare’s home care subsidiary, ParaMed Home Health Care, is presently involved in a bitter strike in Renfrew County, northwest of Ottawa.

It’s fair to ask whether the hard-line ParaMed is taking at the bargaining table is motivated by priorities on the other side of the border?

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Strike pits corporate behemoth against $12.88 an hour home support workers

Picture of a hand-written sign saying the ParaMed Office is closed. Thos who need assistance should call 1-800-565-3393.

Sign on the door Tuesday at of one of ParaMed’s Renfrew County offices.

Renfrew County doesn’t usually generate a lot of headlines.

In a very conservative part of the province the plight of a 110 striking home care workers is generating some sympathy as they take on a corporate behemoth. It’s a David versus Goliath story that pits the millionaire Extendicare CEO against the $12.88 an hour home support worker.

The striking front line staff at ParaMed Home Health Care’s Renfrew County operations are a mere drop in the bucket in Extendicare’s universe. Extendicare, which owns ParaMed, employs about 35,000 workers in Canada and the U.S. Its international headquarters are in Markham, Ontario.

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The power a company that size is being used to grind down the small Renfrew group. It’s been 21 months since their collective agreement expired and ParaMed has shown little interest in coming to the bargaining table or shifting from its hard-line position.

Of course, for Extendicare, there is little at stake beyond the profits generated from this small corner of the province and some public relations value. This is hardly showing Extendicare in a good light, but it may be the least of their concerns. Extendicare recently announced a $42.2 million legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after a 2010 investigation regarding undisclosed claims in alleged violation of the U.S. Social Security Act. The company also has to undergo a five-year corporate integrity agreement, not that Extendicare admits to having done anything illegal.

Back on the streets of Renfrew County the concerns are very different.

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Another home care strike looms as $1.1 million CEO offers workers less than inflation

This is starting to look like a pattern: another home care employer, another offer that has angered workers and led to another strike vote.

This time it’s both nursing and personal support workers in Renfrew County who are employees of ParaMed Home Health Care, a division of corporate giant Extendicare.

Tuesday the OPSEU local voted 86 per cent to give their bargaining team a strike mandate. The local is a mix of registered nurses, registered practical nurses, home and personal support workers as well as clerical staff.

Like their counterparts at Red Cross Care Partners, the part-time work means many of these workers are earning wages that would place them close to the poverty line if not below it. The top rate for a personal support worker at this employer is $15.45 an hour when their hospital and long term care counterparts can be earning well in excess of $20 an hour.

A no-board has yet to be issued so no strike date has been set. The Local is hopeful it can still reach an agreement at the bargaining table.

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Summer election may be fought over sneaky clause in budget bill

Dalton McGuinty is threatening to pull the plug on his own government after the opposition parties amended his budget bill yesterday in the legislature’s finance committee.

Like the Harper government budget bill, the McGuinty government inserted a large number of legislative amendments to create a massive omnibus bill. Many of these the NDP and Conservative opposition stripped out yesterday with their 5-4 majority on the committee.

Among them is the controversial Schedule 28 which would give the government enhanced latitude to privatize public services without returning to the legislative assembly for debate and approval.

McGuinty claims the Schedule is to facilitate the complete privatization of ServiceOntario, itself a mistake. High-profile lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo accompanied OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas to the legislative committee last week to point out that such privatization potentially opens up serious privacy concerns given U.S. subsidiaries would be forced by American law to share sensitive information gathered by ServiceOntario with the American government.

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McGuinty says he needs majority to take hard line against labour

Dalton McGuinty may have handed health care professionals and other public sector workers a reason to vote against the Liberals in upcoming Kitchener-Waterloo byelection.

The seat was recently vacated by Tory health critic Elizabeth Witmer after she accepted an appointment as Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). This despite past conflicts between Witmer and the Liberals over the WSIB.

Should the byelection be won by the Liberals, it would propel the McGuinty government into a defacto majority, the speaker allowed to break tie votes in provincial parliament.

Given the “elegant” compromise with the NDP over the budget, why would McGuinty suddenly need a majority so badly that he would be willing to appoint a long-time opponent to such a sensitive position at WSIB?

According to the Toronto Star’s Martin Regg Cohn, McGuinty says he needs the majority “because tough times require a hard line against labour.”

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Can Ontarian’s afford more PC long-term care?

The Progressive Conservatives (PC) under Tim Hudak say they will add an additional 5,000 long-term care beds on top of the 35,000 that are already coming on stream. There is no reason to suggest that Hudak will handle this any different than his predecessor Premier Mike Harris did.

Historically, the relationship between the Conservatives and the long-term care corporations has been very tight.

In 1998, when the government announced a $1 billion would be spent to create 20,000 new long-term care beds in Ontario, the PC’s received large campaign contributions from the top three private for-profit long term care corporations operating in Ontario: Extendicare, Liesureworld, and Central Park Lodges Real Estate Income Trust (CPL REIT)

In 2001 when the tenders were announced, two thirds of the new beds were awarded to for-profit operators. Extendicare, Leisureworld, and CPL REIT received 39.5 per cent of the contracts.

Upon the completion of construction, all the sites received the provincial per diem funding for all beds in operation just like the other facility operators but also continue to receive an additional subsidy of up to $10.35 per bed per day, payable for the next 20 years to offset the cost of borrowing and construction. That is $75,550.00 per bed over 20 years.

This was an unprecedented subsidy of the construction costs for the private sector. After 20 years the facility operators will own the new building with no further obligation to the taxpayers.

In 2001 the private for-profit nursing homes began to operate the majority of LTC home beds in Ontario.

In 2003, Chartwell Real Estate Income Trust (REIT) was formed by consolidating three other private long-term care home operations and according to its trust document was established for the purpose of investing in a portfolio of income-producing seniors facilities. It has grown into one of the largest private long-term care providers in Ontario.

According to information obtained by the Ontario Health Coalition in 2008 through a Freedom of Information request, the lowest level of care is provided in the for-profit nursing homes compared to the not-for profit and municipal facilities.

The latest available data shows Ontario pays 36 per cent more in accommodation rates for long-term care than other provinces.

Most of the large private for-profit operators are structured as a Real Estate Income Trust (REIT) so they don’t pay any corporate taxes.

There is a critical need for long term care beds in Ontario. To get the most efficiency for public funding,  Ontario needs to invest in not-for profit and public long term care beds.