Strike countdown begins for 140 Ontario home care workers

Professional and support staff could be on strike as early as Sept. 2

About 140 unionized home care workers in Renfrew County, Ont., could be on strike as early as Sept. 2.

The professional and support workers of Paramed Home Healthcare Staff – represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) – announced the possible strike action after a no board was issued on Aug. 18.

OPSEU reports the employer is attempting to extend its wage freeze to five years for the nursing and home support staff. Personal support workers (PSWs) will receive an increase due to directed funding from Queen’s Park. The union said pay for home support workers beings at $12.88 per hour, well below Canada’s poverty rate.

Because workers are expected to fund their own vehicle to shuttle between appointments, the union said they cannot afford to fall further behind.

“The Wynne government has recognized the need for recruitment and retention in this sector,” said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “On the one hand they have increased compensation to the PSWs only to see for-profit agencies try to claw back compensation in other forms.”

Thomas said increasing demand for home support workers over the past several years means a strike would be very disruptive to patients. A strike, he said, would see more patients staying in the region’s hospitals for longer periods and at much greater expense.

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