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Ontario unions present Ontario government with list of demands

Union leaders representing different groups of frontline workers have come together with long lists of grievances with one central theme: Doug Ford’s Conservatives have failed Ontario workers and need to make immediate changes.

Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates was joined via zoom by Vice President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) DJ Sanderson, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, Karen Brown the President of the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO), and the leader of the official opposition NDP Andrea Horwath.

A joint statement endorsed by over 30 organizations puts forward six demands from frontline workers to be included in the Ontario government’s response to Omicron:

-Recall the legislature for an emergency session

-Repeal Bill 124 capping wage and benefit increases at 1%

-Legislate a minimum of ten employer-paid sick days

-Hold an emergency summit of all stakeholders in the healthcare system

-Require healthcare and education institutions to provide airborne precautions

-Launch an emergency health campaign

“Ontario is continuing to face its worst public health crisis since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President.

“Our healthcare system remains in crisis, schools are still not equipped to protect students and education workers, and most Ontarians still do not have adequate paid sick days. This crisis is far from over. We need urgent action now.”

The statement calls for action and responsibility from the premier that speakers said has been sorely lacking throughout the pandemic and even prior to it.

DJ Sanderson, ONA’s Vice President says things are dire for healthcare workers, and Ontario’s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse.

He says however the current state of growing emergency was avoidable.

“This healthcare disaster we’re currently experiencing could have been easily prevented had the Ford government listened to frontline workers and acted upon our advice,” Sanderson said.

“This government must act now to turn this disaster around for all Ontarians.”

Sanderson continued specifically mentioning Bill 124, saying it adds “insult to injury” and is driving more nurses and healthcare workers away from the industry.

The press conference and statement came two hours before Ford’s own public address joined by Christine Elliott and Dr. Kieran Moore.

In that press conference Thursday morning, Doug Ford announced the easing of COVID restrictions, including allowing restaurants, gyms and movie theatres to reopen at 50% capacity.

Ford also lauded his government’s own investments into and building up of healthcare infrastructure in Ontario, saying the previous government left the healthcare industry in a difficult position with cutbacks.

At this time, Ontario’s reopening plan does not appear to include any enhanced supports for workers.

Other cosigners of the letter include presidents from Queen’s University Faculty Association, Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union and Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttps://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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