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Unifor lobbies nationally for action on public services

Unifor lobbies nationally for action on public services

OTTAWA – Unifor members from across Canada are on Parliament Hill to lobby MPs for an expansion of public services, including national child care and pharmacare programs, and action on climate change.

“To continue to push for progressive change, the work of Unifor never stops and our members are vigilant in lobbying and speaking up for all workers and families right across Canada,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Public services are the best way to ensure the needs of all are met and the federal government must put words in to action.”

As part of its effort to bring the concerns of working people to MPs this week, Canada’s largest union in the private sector has more than sixty union members representing different sectors, workplaces and regions in Ottawa. On Thursday, May 24, in a series of scheduled meetings with government and opposition MPs, Unifor members will deliver a message about the importance of investing in public services to ensure access and universality for all working families.

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Local Union Presidents and Recording Secretaries, Retiree Chapters

May 16, 2018                                                                                                                                                                                                        For Immediate Release

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Provincial Election Discussion Should be About Rebuilding Public Hospitals & Long-Term Care Not “Efficiencies” or “Lean” or Code Words for Cuts: Health Coalition Calls for Concrete Commitments to Redress the Crisis in Access to Care

 

Toronto – After touring Ontario in recent weeks, Health Coalition spokeswoman Natalie Mehra returned to Toronto this morning at a press conference outside the Emergency Department at Mount Sinai Hospital to talk about the crisis in access to health care. Noting that the Coalition’s mandate is to protect public health care in the public interest, she said that the group has chosen its words carefully and has not used the word “crisis” since the 1990s until recently when the overcrowding situation in Ontario’s hospitals truly reached crisis proportions.

 

The coalition released its platform for the election in Toronto this morning. Called “Time to Rebuild” the coalition has highlighted two key “asks” for all political parties leading into June 7th’s provincial election to fix the crisis:

  • An immediate and significant infusion of funding is needed for Ontario’s hospitals which are funded at the lowest rate of any province in Canada by every measure and which have the fewest funded beds remaining after 40-years of downsizing. The coalition is asking for 5.3% per year, based on the best evidence available (2.2% inflation, 1% population growth, 1% aging, 1.1% increased utilization) and a commitment to get that money directly to care, not executive salaries and administrative functions that do not support increasing care levels.
  • A commitment to open 30,000 new long-term care spaces as quickly as possible to address the wait list of 34,000 (according to the most recent government of Ontario figures from December) people, mostly elderly, often with dementia and complex care needs that are too heavy for their families to provide. Within long-term care homes, care levels need to improve to meet the increasing complexity. People are suffering for months or even years waiting for long-term care placement.

 

The coalition will measure each of the parties’ commitments throughout the election campaign against these priority “asks”. In addition, there are recommendations for home care reform; support for community health centres that promote equity in access to needed care and primary care reform; a plan to build new hospitals publicly, reform Infrastructure Ontario and save billions that are currently wasted on P3 privatization; streamlining will rid Ontarians of top-heavy administration and get money more directly to care; democratization of our public hospitals; a roll-back and re-integration of privatized outpatient services and labs, and other public interest reforms.

 

Health care is polling at the top of the public agenda this election and the Health Coalition is working to ensure that the political parties make commitments that will effect real policy change. “We are here among world-class hospitals in Ontario that simply cannot provide even a safe level of care because of decades of downsizing,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director. “The discussion has to change. This is not a time to be talking about “lean” or “efficiencies” or “transformation” or any other code words for cuts and privatization. All the political parties to make real commitments to fix the crisis that we are seeing in our hospitals and in access to seniors’ care in nursing homes. That means a multi-year commitment to significantly improved funding and restoration of services. Its time now to rebuild.”

 

For more information: Dana Boettger, Communications Manager (416) 441-2502 (office)

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Unifor gears up for the Ontario election

Canvassing in elections is exciting, sometimes awkward, and absolutely vital to the success of campaigns.

To kick start Unifor’s member to member campaign, twenty-four members from ridings across Ontario gathered in Toronto for two days of training.  The organizers participated in sessions that offered tools and resources on how to have doorstep conversations with union members as part of the Make it Count campaign that will gear up when the writ drops next week.

The training follows a directive that was approved by members at the December 2017 Ontario Regional Council and is part of Unifor’s plan to campaign to, “elect a progressive government that respects trade union rights and the role of the labour movement.”

The adopted recommendation also called on local union leadership to work actively to mobilize members to vote on June 7.

“There’s too much at stake in this election, with conservative threats to public services like healthcare and squashing the rollout of the $15 an hour minimum wage,” commented Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. “Unifor volunteers and organizers will put in the work in order to turn the tide.”

Unifor’s Make it Count campaign asks all Unifor members to not settle, but to unite and demand a more progressive province for all of us.

Currently, the Progressive Conservatives are ahead in all provincial polls even though the party’s leader has expressed support and interest in implementing anti-worker, anti-woman policies and threatens the public services that we all rely on.

Denise Hammond, Director of Communications, reminded members that polling looked similar leading up to the 2014 election, with Tim Hudak ahead, but Unifor mobilized to stop the conservatives then and union members can do it again with Doug Ford.

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Unifor gears up for the Ontario election

Ontario hospital workers win new provincial contract

Intense weekend bargaining for 75,000 Ontario hospital workers, whose three unions formed a unique alliance in provincial negotiations, resulted in a tentative master contract with hospital employers.

“The hospitals had offered inferior wages and were looking to take away hard-earned rights,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to the Unifor National President. “To achieve a contract without any takeaways from the employer was only possible because hospital workers showed visible solidarity with all three unions and the bargaining teams.”

The tentative settlement was reached after weeks of hospital workers mobilizing, rallying and conducting visible workplace solidarity actions under the banner of Together For Respect. The joint union bargaining campaign spanned across more than 100 hospitals across Ontario where members of Unifor, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare were employed. Just last week, on April 18 members of the three unions held workplace rallies across the province.

Initially the hospitals had tabled a long list of concessions and had refused to extend the wage increases that were voluntarily agreed to with other employees. When each union reached an impasse during its respective negotiations, CUPE, SEIU and Unifor formed the first-ever, tri-union bargaining alliance at the end of March.

“Frequently, hospital workers are activists for quality patient care and services in communities across Ontario,” said SEIU President Sharleen Stewart. “It is with much humility that they came forward to advocate for their own working conditions and respect in the workplace. Together, our three unions were able to accomplish something that, on our own, we would not have been able to do.”

One of the central issues in negotiations was workplace violence. A CUPE poll released last year found that 68 per cent of hospital staff offering direct care had experienced violence in the last year. In addition to new language on workplace violence, the tentative deal provides for a wage increase and there were no concessions accepted by the unions.

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Ontario hospital workers win new provincial contract

Hospital workers demand better working conditions, compensation in rally

About 100 hospital workers in Windsor joined thousands of other health care employees in a province-wide rally to back contract demands.

It’s part of a “Together for Respect” campaign by their unions – SEIU, Unifor and CUPE — to demand better working conditions and compensation with the Ontario Hospital Association.

The local rally was held outside Windsor Regional Hospital’s Ouellette campus on Wednesday afternoon. Nurses, personal support workers, administrative staff, as well as custodial employees are part of 75,000 workers at 160 public hospitals across Ontario who want a new contract.

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Unifor looks to Ontario budget to address challenges


The Ontario Liberal’s last budget before the June 2018 provincial election must address inequality and the crisis in care, says Unifor.

“Workers are looking for a provincial budget that builds off the advances that we have won in recent years and refuses to shy away from universal public programs that will build a more equitable society,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “We have lobbied for legislation that raises wages and protects the most vulnerable members of our society but we’re not done yet, and Unifor members are not ready to slow down.”
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Unique alliance of 75,000 hospital workers formed in Ontario

Three of Canada’s largest unions today announced an alliance that kicks off an escalating campaign of membership mobilization to push Ontario hospitals to return to bargaining and treat their staff with respect.

This is the first time the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (OCHU/CUPE), SEIU Healthcare and Unifor have come together to seek a negotiated agreement on behalf of 75,000 nurses, personal support workers, porters, administrative staff and dietary, cleaning and trades staff at 160 public hospitals in Ontario. A bargaining alliance is rare for the unions, which normally negotiate independently with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) – the hospital employers’ umbrella group.

“By coming together, we are making history to demand that our members get the respect they deserve. The OHA has been unwilling to negotiate fairly, but I truly believe we are stronger together and I’m hopeful that our alliance will lead to us achieving positive outcomes for the 75,000 hospital staff we collectively represent,” said SEIU Healthcare president Sharleen Stewart.

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Let’s talk mental health: How can we support one another?

Whether you’re looking to be more directly involved in the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) or be a change-maker on your workplace health and safety committee, Unifor has tools to help all members promote good mental health practices.

The Worker Referral Assistance Programis the first step in order to become a referral agent in your workplace or local. In this role, members can act as liaisons to community resources that can help members access the services they need while protecting their confidentiality. The Level One program will be offered through the PEL program at the Unifor Family Education Centre in Port Elgin.  This course is open to participants from all Unifor Local Unions.

In level one, participants will discuss:

  • Unions and communities working together;
  • Your community services;
  • Principles of communication;
  • Interviewing and referral skills;
  • Implementing/strengthening employee and family assistance program in the local union;
  • Stress;
  • Addiction and dependency;
  • Loss and grief

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