Ontario nurses win 11.5% wage increase

Ontario Nurses Association members marching over pay and staffing

THE Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) in Canada has welcomed the arbitration decision that includes the most significant wage increase for registered nurses (RNs) and health-care professionals working in the province’s nursing homes in more than 30 years.

During the two-year term of the new collective agreement, nurses will receive an 11.5 per cent salary increase (8.5 per cent in 2024 and 3 per cent in 2025), representing an increase of $5.82/hour.
ONA Provincial President Erin Ariss, RN, said: ‘This decision is a first step towards recognising the highly skilled work performed by nurses and health-care professionals in this sector.
‘For too long, the public has subsidised private, for-profit, nursing homes to the detriment of residents and staff.
‘While the decision does not eliminate the wage gap between public- and private-sector nurses, it significantly reduces the disparity between them and brings us closer to equal wages.’
The arbitration decision was the result of a lengthy bargaining process that culminated in an arbitration hearing before Arbitrator Sheri Price, held on May 1 and 2, 2024.
By law, nurses in long-term care are prevented from going on strike and must resolve contract negotiation disputes by arbitration.
ONA had sought significant wage increases in response to systemic deficiencies in the sector, while also pushing for increased staffing to address resident needs.
‘This decision partially addresses the concerns presented by ONA,’ said Ariss.
She continued: ‘During the pandemic, many of us had to endure the indignity of wage suppression, the lack of personal protective equipment, short staffing, and outbreaks, seeing patients and staff unnecessarily endangered, but continued working through it all.
‘Profit has no place in health care. Instead, we need to invest in patient, resident and client care.
‘That’s why ONA members have campaigned and organised collective actions for months to inform their communities and build support.
‘This new contract will not fix staffing shortages or sector neglect, especially with the Ford government pursuing a clear privatisation agenda, but it is one step in the right direction.’
Ariss thanked the ONA Nursing Homes Provincial Negotiating Team and members across the province, saying: ‘Together, we fought like nurses and health-care professionals.
‘I was proud to work alongside our team throughout bargaining. I was even more proud to march with so many of our members for care, not profit.
‘Now the fight continues, and I encourage ONA members in all sectors to get involved. The fight for better care is only beginning.’
ONA is the union representing 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

  • Meanwhile, local home and community care workers paid a visit to the office of Bay of Quinte MPP and Minister of Energy Todd Smith last Tuesday.

The members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees CUPE) Local 4788 Southeast deliverer a petition protesting about a delay in reaching a new contract with the provincial government and many of its members are struggling to pay their bills.
CUPE says it has been without a new contract since legislation capping public sector wages at one per cent was overturned in February.
Union members affected include nurses, personal support workers, physiotherapists, and administrative staff.

  • Some Toronto Transport Commission (TTC) workers could go on strike as early as June 7, says the union representing roughly 11,500 Toronto transit employees.

In a news release on Tuesday afternoon, the Amalgamated Transport Union (ATU) Local 113 said the Ontario Ministry of Labour has issued a no-board report – formal notice that the government is not appointing a conciliation board.
That decision starts a 17-day countdown, after which point the members of ATU Local 113, the TTC’s largest union, can legally go on strike.
‘This is the next legal step with respect to exercising our right to withdraw services,’ said union president Marvin Alfred in the release.
‘We have already started mobilising our members to prepare for this, should we need to take strike action in June,’ Alfred said.
Both union and employer say they remain at the bargaining table and there won’t necessarily be a strike.
‘However, we need to be honest with all our employees and customers,’ said TTC CEO Rick Leary in a news release.
‘Past experience tells us that if there is a labour disruption with ATU Local 113, there will be service impacts,’ Leary said.
He said exact service impacts are ‘not yet known’.
The ATU Local 113, which has been without a contract since April 1st, says it was last on strike in 2008.
So far in 2024, the TTC says it has reached new agreements with three of the transit agency’s six bargaining units.
Transit advocate Steve Munro said he doesn’t think there’s an appetite for a strike on either side.
‘From the union’s point of view, unless they can somehow turn it around into: “We were forced to strike because of those terrible people at the TTC who are being completely unreasonable.” Unless you get the public on your side, they’re going to go downhill real fast,’ Munro said.
Munro said there would be ‘a lot of very upset people very quickly’ if there is a strike and it would affect people right across the city. It’s just not a downtown issue, he added.

  • Earlier this year Oshawa, ON, Del Monte shuttered the doors to the local factory. Seventy-one workers at the Oshawa Del Monte factory were terminated without notice or severance pay.

Prior to the closure, these workers were on the picket line fighting for a livable wage above poverty line and other basic compensations.
Three weeks into the strike, Del Monte announced the factory was shutting down and stated it was due to the economic impact of the strike.
But since Del Monte used a third-party temporary staffing agency, Premier, to hire these 71 workers, the company was able to subvert Ontario employment laws by simply cancelling their temp agency contract.
‘That’s a massive loophole that was exploited in this situation which made it so that Premier didn’t have to give any kind of termination or severance pay to these workers and especially to workers who had been there for five years and who are entitled to severance pay,’ said Navjeet Sidhu, international director at Unifor.
‘In this situation, it was really gaps in the Employment Standards Act.
‘Whenever an employer terminates a contract, it really gives zero protection for the workers because they have very little recourse in that situation.
‘It’s a constant issue for workers,’ Sidhu added.
In the event that a worker is terminated because of economic loss or discontinuation of business because of a strike, they are not entitled to notice of termination or severance pay according to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA).
‘Essentially again, they’re blaming the workers who were not asking for $40 an hour increases.
‘You know, they were asking for a very modest increase from $16 to $20, and they even brought that demand down to $18.
‘And still, Premier just came back with a very insulting five cent increase offer to their wages,’ said Sidhu.