Just a few weeks ago OPSEU President Smokey Thomas was praising Doug Ford for raising the minimum wage but now his union wants to meet with Premier Doug Ford to discuss a late Friday announcement that the province has reportedly agreed to pay a $5,000 dollar bonus to all front-line nurses.
“We would like to get more details about who will be able to apply for this bonus,” said Thomas. “Our members are scratching their heads about what this means, but one thing should be clear, a bonus is no substitute for eliminating Bill 124.” Bill 124 capped public sector salary increases at 1 percent
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says he hopes that the bonus will be extended to other health care professionals. “The devil is in the details,” said Almeida. “I hope Mr. Ford will not lose sight of the fact that in addition to nurses, the health care system relies on tens of thousands of professionals in other areas to keep running – they shouldn’t be left out.”
Almeida added that OPSEU/SEFPO represents nurses in the Corrections Division who are significantly underpaid, and they deserve not only a retention bonus but an exemption from Bill 124 so their wages can be raised.
Sara Labelle, chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Hospital Professionals Division, said she is happy to see that the government is recognizing the difficulty in finding nurses but notes there are other job classifications that are facing staff shortages.
“We are seeing staff shortages in labs, in pharmacies, in respiratory therapy, in radiation technology and many other professions,” said Labelle. “We need a well-thought-out strategy to address shortages in all health care professions and we’d like to speak to the Premier about it.”
Ed Arvelin, vice-chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Health Care Divisional Council, points out that the union also has health care professionals in the Ontario Public Service, the colleges and in social services. Arvelin also says this is a perfect example of where front-line know-how can solve problems.
“Our front-line members know the problems and know how to fix them,” said Arvelin. “When we are listened to Ontarians are the ones who benefit.”