Employees fighting freeze say money saved in wages would be scooped up by long-term care executives and private shareholders.
Toronto (17 Sept. 2010) - The Ontario government wants the pay freeze it is trying to impose on public employees to extend to executives and senior managers of for-profit long-term care homes across the province.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty may extend the freeze to companies such as Extendicare Real Estate Investment Trust and Chartwell Seniors Housing REIT.
Approximately 40,000 unionized employees work in Ontario’s government-funded, for-profit long-term care homes. One of the arguments they have made against the proposed freeze is that it could be abused by the companies to transfer money saved in wages to executives and shareholders.
Duncan has argued that Ontario's public sector workers must do their part to help the province reduce its massive deficit and, at the same time, preserve its cherished social programs.
The proposed two-year freeze is being strenuously opposed by public sector unions such as the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) on grounds that the public sector did not create the deficits the government is facing following the global economic meltdown and should not be singled out as the government tries to balance its books again.
“We have spoken about fairness and everybody working together,” Duncan told the Toronto Globe and Mail. “In that context, the unions make a very valid point.”
The debate raises new questions about the government’s relationship with the private health care sector, which is playing a growing role in the care of the province’s elderly residents. The private sector accounts for more than half of Ontario’s 620 long-term care homes.
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