In a year dominated by a pandemic, health care resolutions kicked off the policy and action plan debate at CUPE Ontario’s 57th annual convention.
CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick urged delegates to support Resolution #55, calling for the Provincial government takeover of privately-owned and managed long-term care homes and the creation of a system that greatly improves care and staffing levels. With more than 70 per cent of COVID-19 deaths happening in for-profit LTC homes, “now is the time” for this government to action. A moratorium on for-profit beds and better wages and working conditions for staff is needed, said Rennick, who acknowledged the fearlessness of long-term care front-line staff who not only worked diligently under gruelling conditions during COVID-19 but who also sounded the alarm on low care and staffing levels well before the pandemic hit.
Delegates also gave strong support for several resolutions committing to mobilizing, including Resolution #60 calling for community-based actions to support a common front to support nearly 40,000 hospital workers in Ontario now in central provincial contract negotiations. Hospital workers are pushing for respect, improved health and safety protections, and a wage increases in the face of Bill 124, the provincial government’s wage restraint regime. “We will rise up and push back on Bill 124, not just for hospital workers, but for all impacted by the legislation,” said CUPE Ontario 1st Vice President and Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE) President, Michael Hurley.
He also encouraged support for regional rallies to restore the rights of health care workers who have had key aspects of their contract provisions removed under Bill 195 and for Resolution #57, which opposes hospital patients being moved to ‘transitional care spaces’, like for-profit long-term care homes and hotels. This is a policy shift that essentially privatizes hospital patient care, Hurley said.
Several delegates, including CUPE Ontario 2nd Vice-President Yolanda McClean, spoke passionately about the importance of fighting the exploitation of racialized health care workers. McClean called on delegates to vote in favour of Resolution # 59 and fully support the struggle of the workers at the Hillcrest site of the University Health Network (UHN) who are paid $16.50/hour and get just three (3) sick days a year, to provide hospital services under a private contractor. A June 19 car cavalcade is scheduled (provided the provincial stay-at-home order is lifted) to underscore that the Hillcrest workers deserve dignity and improved wages and for UHN to make them direct employees of the hospital.
Every one of these resolutions passed with support.
55, 60, 57, 58, 59