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.
Well that was quick.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told the media this morning that she cannot support the Wynne budget, or more specifically, the Wynne government.
Horwath’s remarks suggested it wasn’t so much about the content of yesterday’s budget, but about trust in the present government.
A June 12 provincial election has now been set.
Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli told the Ottawa Citizen this morning “this budget is our platform for the next 30 days.”
The Liberals wasted no time in going on the attack, revealing their strategy to brand PC Leader Tim Hudak as representing the values of the U.S. Tea Party and accusing Horwath of bringing “zero policy forward.”
Horwath noted that the Wynne government had not delivered on past promises, including fixing home care and establishing a Financial Accountability Office.
Yesterday OPSEU President Warren Smokey Thomas had called upon Horwath to pull the plug on the two-and-a-half year-old minority government, calling the spring budget a “wholesale transfer of wealth from the public to the corporate sector.”
Terry Haffner with the stump of the tree planted in his father’s memory.
“It felt like digging up his grave,” said Terry Haffner.
A housekeeper at Kingston’s Providence Care, Haffner was disturbed to find a memorial garden to long-serving staff had been cut down and the plaques removed by the hospital without any notice to the families of the deceased or the union who had represented them.
One of those deceased staff members was Terry’s dad Neil, who had worked at the former Kingston Psychiatric hospital from 1961 to his retirement in 1993. Neil passed away in 1996.
When Neil’s tree was planted, his son kept it watered and tended in the early days until it grew hardy enough to withstand the extremes in weather so close to the lake.
It was Terry’s father who told him to apply for a job at the mental health centre in the 1980s. His dad recognized that the heavy construction work his son was doing at the time would be difficult to maintain as he got older. For many years they travelled to work together.
The March of Dimes is a registered charity that helps Ontarians with disabilities live independently. Recently the charity locked out about 30 Oakville Personal Support Workers (PSWs) after they refused to give in to wage concessions. These OPSEU-represented PSWs are currently paid as little as $14 an hour — or what some advocates are saying should be the minimum wage. This is for work that is both skilled and challenging. Meanwhile, the CEO of the March of Dimes rewards herself with compensation that is about $270,000 annually. The majority of the March of Dimes funding for disability support comes from the Province of Ontario. Our colleagues at Operation Maple recently made this video to tell their story and suggest that perhaps any further charitable donations should come with a condition.
Following Monday’s demonstration outside the former Kingston psychiatric hospital, Providence Care is now telling staff that the job cuts and bed closures are not about funding. Really? Even though the hospital is running at capacity, even though it is next to impossible to get a loved one admitted to a bed, even though long-term projections suggest greater need for mental health services in Kingston, even though the situation has become volatile with overcrowding and understaffing, the hospital expects us to believe that this is all part of the plan.
Sigh. If this is the plan, Providence Care desperately needs a new one.
On Monday we shot video of the demonstration outside the centre (below). If you live in Kingston, please share our video with others. The campaign to reverse the cuts continues. It’s time the LHIN involves the community in a plan that actually makes sense. Stay tuned for more events.
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Tagged Brendan Kilcline, Chris Cormier, d, Dave Lundy, Kingston mental health cuts, Kingston P3 hospital, Mary Rita Holland, Providence Care, Ross Sutherland, Tracey Newton, Warren "Smokey" Thomas