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It was looking like serious rain but the sun came out to shine on CUPE 2553’s protest for better long-term care in Toronto today.

About fifty (50) front-line long term care workers hit the street outside Villa Colombo, one of Toronto’s most prestigious charitable long-term care homes.  They were joined by Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), Candace Rennick, Second Vice President of CUPE Ontario and Irene Harris, Secretary Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

Workers at Villa Colombo, including Local President Angela Cutulle, have seen the quality of care go down as management grows and cuts front-line staff.  In fact, Villa Colombo has less staff per resident than other charitable homes in Toronto. 

The workers picketed, chanted and sang to get the message out, with TV cameras and local newspapers hearing about the need for minimum standards.  CUPE is campaigning for an average care standard of 3.5 hours of care per resident per day and protesting the fact that more money is going into the system, but care levels are not rising accordingly. 

Workers were joined by several residents of the home, including Borsa Domenico, who marched and chanted alongside housekeepers, personal support workers and dietary workers, among others.  Borsa’s dedication lifted everyone’s spirits chanting as he marched, “No more staff cuts!” in Italian.

One worker commented, “What can you do?  You say yes, yes, yes to management, but two hands can only do what two hands can do.”

Today, those two hands held picket signs and CUPE flags to drive home the message:  minimum care standards and good working conditions now!