Home care workers say Paramed is pushing them towards a strike in Renfrew County

Paramed Home Health Care is pressuring workers in Renfrew County to accept a deal that will extend the freeze on their wages for a total of five years.

Renfrew (28 May 2014) — Front-line professional and support staff at Canada's largest private sector provider of home care say they are being pushed towards a strike that could soon affect patients in the Arnprior, Deep River and Barry's Bay area.

Paramed Home Health Care is pressuring workers in Renfrew County, members of the  Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), to accept a deal that will extend the freeze on their wages for a total of five years.

Poverty level wages for workersmore than a million a year for CEO

The starting wage for Paramed Home Health Care is $12.88 per hour for a home support worker. On this wage they are expected to provide their own vehicle to shuttle between appointments.

That's  a wage below the poverty line, and made especially dire by the fact that most of these workers—predominantly women—are limited to part-time hours.

This contrasts with the earnings of the CEO of Extendicare, the corporation that owns Paramed. In 2012 Business Week reported that CEO Timothy Lukenda earned $1.129 million in compensation.

Paramed claims inability to pay better despite funding increases

Now Paramed says it cannot offer their Renfrew workers—which also include personal support workers, nurses and clerical staff—anything better for the next three years.

This is despite the fact that home care is the one sector where the government has been providing funding increases. Last year the increase was six per cent. This year the proposed increase for the sector was intended to be five per cent.

Depending on the outcome of the election, the personal support workers may or may not receive the entire wage increase government promised them earlier this year. The rise in the minimum wage for PSWs was intended to stem the massive turnover in these positions. However, if PC Leader Tim Hudak implements an across-the-board wage freeze, even these workers may not achieve the $4 per hour wage increase promised to them by 2016.

Financial disclosure promised but not delivered

Members of OPSEU/NUPGE have been demanding financial disclosure from Paramed during the bargaining process. While Paramed has agreed to provide the disclosure, they continue to drag their feet on doing so.

There are 140 Paramed Home Health Care workers represented by OPSEU/NUPGE in Renfrew County. No strike date has been set.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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