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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Provincial long-term care funding is delivered to Ontario’s nursing homes bundled in what the Ministry likes to call “envelopes.” These figures are allocated for each resident under care.
There is an envelope for nursing and personal care, another for program and support services, one for raw food costs, and a fourth for accommodations.
August 9 the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN sent out a memo outlining the increase in funding for each of these envelopes.
The per diem for nursing and personal care will rise by 1 per cent – or 86 cents – to $86.91. The per diem for program and support services will rise by just 8 cents to $8.43. Despite rapidly rising food costs, homes will only get 22 cents more per day to provide three meals, snacks and drinks. Homes receive $7.68 daily for raw food costs. The biggest winner will be the accommodations envelope, which will rise by $1.09 to $52.17.
Guess which of the four envelopes for-profit homes are allowed to draw profit from? If you guessed accommodations, you would be correct.
Given all the problems with care and support in Ontario’s nursing homes, this appears to be a very odd priority.