Workers want a fair deal from ParaMed Home Health Care — not five-year wage freezes and increased mileage costs.
Ottawa (03 Sept. 2014) — Professional and support staff that provide home care to more than 1,200 frail and elderly personsin Renfrew County went on strike on September 2.
Home health care workers in Renfrew County strike after employer tries to freeze wages for five years
ParaMed Home Health Care has shown no interest in avoiding a strike among its 140 Renfrew County staff, refusing to bargain again until September 5 — four days into the labour action.
“This is a completely irresponsible employer,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), the union representing the health care workers. “The company is more concerned about protecting their profits than caring for the frail and elderly.”
The professional and support staff are frustrated with an employer that seeks to freeze their wages for five years. The workers have been without a wage increase for almost four years. The collective agreement expired 21 months ago in January 2013.
Home health care workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the province yet ParaMed pushed for further concessions
ParaMed has also insisted on changing the geography of assignments, making home care workers travel much farther without any adjustment to their mileage rate. Personal Support Workers have had only a one cent per kilometre increase in five years. The current rate of 42 cents per kilometer rate is supposed to cover both automobile expenses and travel time. ParaMed nurses received no increase in mileage rates for five years despite record gas prices this summer.
“Many of these staff members can no longer afford to go to work,” says Thomas.
The strike could impact patients not presently serviced by ParaMed. The Champlain Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is asking the other agencies to prioritize ParaMed’s most acute patients and that could mean longer waits to access care from these agencies as well as for patients outside of Renfrew County.
Starting wages at ParaMed are as low as $12.88 per hour, while the CEO of Extendicare — ParaMed’s parent company — was reported to have earned $1.1 million in 2012.
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