Long-overdue Ontario healthcare wage subsidies a good step, but workers need more says IAM Union

Long-overdue Ontario healthcare wage subsidies a good step, but workers need more says IAM Union

For immediate release
25 April, 2020

The Ontario government’s announcement on wage subsidies for all frontline healthcare workers was welcome news to the IAM Union, which has been advocating for this long before the pandemic started.

The subsidy provides four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee’s hourly wage. Further, employees working over 100 hours per month will receive lump-sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. Therefore, eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week will receive $3,560 in additional compensation. The payments apply to staff “working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals,” according to the announcement.

The IAM has been pushing all levels of government for proper compensation for all frontline staff at homecare, long-term care, community care and retirement homes through individual meetings and lobbying on Parliament Hill.

Kim Valliere, Directing Business Representative with IAM District 78 said, “This is a temporary pandemic payment and it’s great news for frontline workers. But we want it to go further – we want it to be retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. The IAM will continue to fight for higher wages for its members in the healthcare sector,”

“Healthcare is still in a crisis,” added Jim Snider, Business Representative with IAM District 78. “This pandemic has exposed the ugly underbelly of the system: understaffing at long-term care and retirement homes. For years, they’ve trimmed budgets and staff. The long hours and extra workload also cause absences and high turnover. Healthcare workers are currently struggling to take the breaks they are entitled to. The stress is incredible. And they’re not being paid properly.”

“Finally, governments have heard our concerns and have included the Home Care sector and recognized these frontline workers as an integral part of the fight against COVID-19,” IAM Grand Lodge Representative Ralph Martin said.

The IAM Union also wants this subsidy to apply to patient transfer workers because they are also frontline workers. The IAM represents members at a number of patient transfer companies who transport patients from one location to another.

The IAM continues to be concerned about the downloading and redistribution of healthcare work: work that would normally be done by long-term care homes is being shifted to retirement homes, and the work of hospitals is being farmed out to long-term care homes. This makes it more challenging for some care facilities.

Stan Pickthall, IAM Canada General Vice-President summed up the victory nicely, saying, “This is a big win for the IAM, its members, and for healthcare worker in general.”

The IAM represents almost 4,000 workers in the healthcare sector in Ontario.

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For more information:
Kim Valliere, Directing Business Representative, District 78 kvalliere@iamdl78.org
Jim Snider, Business Representative, District 78 jsnider@iamdl78.org
Ralph Martin, Grand Lodge Representative rmartin@iamaw.org
Neil Giroux, Grand Lodge Representative ngiroux@iamaw.org


English link to Ontario announcement