Tag Archives: Gilles Lanteigne

ONA Strike: Home Care critical to Ontario’s health care strategy – just tell that to the CCACs

Picture of OPSEU President Warren Smokey Thomas with striking ONA CCAC professionals in Kingston on Friday January 30.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas (far right) with striking ONA CCAC professionals in Kingston last Friday.

About 3,000 professional staff at nine of the 14 Ontario Community Care Access Centres started walking a picket line Friday.

Represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, it’s the latest labour disruption in a sector the government considers to be critical to its overall health strategy.

About 140 OPSEU home care workers at ParaMed Home Health Care in Renfrew withheld their services last September after their agency initially failed to negotiate a deal that would lift many of its workers out of poverty. In 2013 SEIU took 4,500 personal support workers at Red Cross Care Partners out on strike over similar conditions. Following that strike the government implemented a well-intentioned but poorly constructed initiative to stabilize the Personal Support Worker (PSW) workforce by increasing funding for their wages over three years. As the government passed on wage increases for these PSWs, some private for-profit home care agencies clawed back compensation for travel time and mileage. In Niagara and Norfolk Counties OPSEU’s nursing staff at CarePartners are likely to strike soon to gain a first contract.

Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has appointed former RNAO President Gail Donner to lead an expert review on the sector. Her recommendations are expected early this year. They can’t come soon enough.

The pressures during this latest strike will be tremendous given Ontario’s underfunded hospitals have little room to maneuver now that the ability to discharge home care patients to the CCAC has become much more limited.

The CCAC boards are looking particularly ridiculous. The Toronto Star reports that ONA was asking for a 1.4 per cent hike for its workers after emerging from a two-year wage freeze. To most people, that seems more than reasonable in the face of the lavish wage increases the CCAC boards have been bestowing on their CEOs.

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CCAC CEOs may not have enjoyed their cornflakes this morning

You would think the Community Care Access Centres would tread a little carefully these days. The Tories want to get rid of them. The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario would like to fold them into the LHINs. We’re creeping into the time of year where budgets run out and home care patients get left in the lurch, particularly around rehabilitation. It’s generally not a fun time for the CCACs.

The CEOs might be enjoying their day a little less this morning after Bob Hepburn’s column in the Toronto Star.  It left our spoons hovering above the Cornflakes.

Hepburn contends that the leadership at the CCACs have been handsomely rewarding themselves with lavish increases while applying restraint to the front line workers. Maybe it’s a last hurrah before it all ends?

Hepburn points to two examples – Cathy Szabo, CEO of the Central CCAC who saw her salary jump by 50 per cent from 2009 to 2012, and Melody Miles, CEO of the Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant CCAC who gave herself a 24 per cent increase over the same period. For Szabo, her wage jumped $91,000 to $270,734. For Miles, her wage jumped during the same period by nearly $53,000 to $265,949.

The information comes from the sunshine list, which we always caution fails to give the full picture, including if the executives worked the full year covered under the report.

We decided to look at the rest of the list. Among CCAC CEOs, you have to really feel for North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC chief William Innes. Back in 2009 he reported earnings of $224,890. For the last two years it has been $199,877.

Central East’s Don Ford is the lowest paid CCAC CEO today. It’s true his kid’s likely didn’t go hungry with earnings of $180,769 in 2012, but the man has not had a raise since the economy took a dump in 2009. In 2009 Ford’s reported earnings on the sunshine list were $181,953. His taxable benefits are also far lower than many of his counterparts at $761.02 in 2012 (by comparison Catherine Szabo received $11,723 in taxable benefits). He’s at the bottom of the provincial heap.

Szabo and Miles draw down some of the biggest incomes among CCAC executives province-wide, but the biggest winner in 2012 was former deputy minister Margaret Mottershead,  who was then the CEO of the Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres (and now she’s gone). Some may wonder why a small group of 14 CCACs needs an association, but we’ll leave that alone for now. Mottershead’s reported compensation for 2012 was $318,322, up slightly less than $5,000 from the year before. That would be a 1.5 per cent increase for anybody lacking a calculator.

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