Healthcare workers held a rally outside of Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Orillia, Ontario on Tuesday, August 24th to protest the Ford government’s controversial Bill 124, which caps public sector employee increases to a maximum of 1% per year. The rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents many different healthcare workers.
The North Simcoe Muskoka & District Labour Council (NSMDLC) was represented at the rally, and voiced strong condemnation of the 1% increase cap. “Our healthcare workers went from being heros to near zeros in the eyes of this government,” said NSMDLC President Mike De Rose. “We’ve heard how working conditions have deteriorated for our healthcare staff during this pandemic. We’ve heard about healthcare settings which are chronically and critically understaffed. These men and women have sacrificed their health and safety, their time with their own families, and sometimes even their own mental and physical health to support us through COVID-19, and now they aren’t even able to negotiate a meaningful cost of living increase?”
With the inflation rate hovering around the 3% mark, a 1% increase would mean a 2% purchasing power cut for all public sector workers (including health care workers), as those impacted would continue to see housing and food and services costs go up, but their pay cheques will fall short. If inflation were to keep this pace, a 4 year contract could set workers back a whopping 8% from where they are now.
“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen all of our public sectors working diligently, under strained and sometimes dangerous conditions,” De Rose said. “Bill 124 and the 1% maximum is an undue and unfair imposition into the bargaining process. We call on Jill Dunlop and the Ford government to repeal this legislation and show respect and dignity to healthcare workers.”