Challenge -Losses and Threats
- Bill 124: refuses to repeal wage suppression legislation affecting all public workers in Ontario – including nurses and other essential workers during a crisis of nursing shortage
- Fought and capped Paid Sicks Day
- Paid private company, along with WSIB, to run paid sick leave program instead of instating permanent, paid sick days
2. Long-Term Care Homes
- Allowed Private Long-Term Care Homes To Raise Rents during a pandemic
- Cancelled mandatory annual inspections of long-term-care facilities
- Bill 37 also made it easier for public dollars to fund for-profit long-term care changing the phrase that said government must be committed to delivery by not-for-profit organizations and removing the stricture not to issue licenses to operators with bad records – even those in which the military had found examples of terrible neglect – does not increase staffing
- Bill 218 will prevent families from being able to seek justice and hold long-term care homes responsible for negligence. The legislation will apply retroactively to March 17, 2020, which is when the province first enacted emergency measures
- Auditor general issued a scathing report on long-term care for which the government refused to take accountability
- Minister Stephen Crawford holds shares in private for-profit long-term care companies
3. Public Health and Workers
- Continued to Privatize Parts of Ontario’s Health System
- Refusal to expand Ontario’s paid sick leave program after 25% of Ontarians admitted to going to work with one or more Covid-19 symptoms and given the shortfall of the federal paid sick leave benefit
- Destabilized public health units by cutting their budgets by $200 million a year, then reversing the cuts without clarity on funding levels beyond the first year
- Rejected proposals to increase the number of nurses despite being shown the province has the lowest nurse-to-population ratio in Canada
- Cut: $1 billion from Toronto Public Health over the next ten years
- privatized access to PCR tests for the general public making the delivery system inequitable – inequitable vaccine roll-out accusations including in York South Weston, where many low income and racialized frontline workers live
- 2020 budget tabled with no new funding for hiring nurses, PSWS, public health or mental health
4. Home Care and other Services
- Passed Bill 175, restructuring the home-care sector in which for-profit private delivery of home care will increase, but with no commitment to increase the number of patients receiving home care or increase the number of visits a patient can receive.
- Rejected pleas to increase rehabilitation services for thousands of patients now paying for such needed services out of their own pockets
What do we need instead!
Take any one of the phrases above and try flipping it! We need action to protect frontline health workers – both during COVID and in general. Non-privatized home care, long-term care and public health need investment and good job conditions for workers, in order to provide for elders and others that rely on them.
Act like it’s an emergency! Amping up the approach….
It is an emergency – COVID. The climate crisis is also an ongoing and escalating emergency. Health care and the workers in this field are essential and will only become more essential.
In fact, the climate crisis is the number one health crisis of our time! Read the reports about the Limits of Livability by Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment for more details.
Care Work is Climate Work by Woo Qiyun
Spotlight on Strong Communities!
As stated above, a strong health care sector is a cornerstone of a strong community. Health care workers are also part of the low-carbon care economy and thus, valuing their work and strengthening workers’ rights and protections is key to a just transition as we move away from a dependence on fossil fuels in Canada. There is great potential in these fields. Even communities that are dependent on fossil fuels most often already have more jobs in the broader category of health care and social services.
Example of a win!
February 2022 – Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) negotiated a good-faith retention bonus for front-line nurses who work in publicly-funded facilities. Doesn’t include a repeal of Bill 124 but does include returning to the Late-Career Nursing Initiative and the New Graduate program, as well as working with the Ontario Hospital Association to make sure nurses can get the rest they deserve and take vacation.
What else can we do?
Raise your Voice and Take Action: For Ontario, we need more nurses per person and for nurses to be paid enough. Raise your voice along with ONA to keep pushing for a repeal of Bill 124.
Share the Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals with those you know in the profession!
- https://ofl.ca/ford-tracker/ under health.
- Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment – search word here was Ontario, but the whole site has good resources.