65,000 Ontario Hospital Workers Awarded 6% Wage Increase, Benefit Improvements In New Contract

Toronto, Ontario – 65,000 Ontario hospital workers represented by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-CUPE (OCHU-CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare will see a 6% wage increase (3% wage increases in each of the next two years), improvements to health and dental benefits, enhancements to weekend, evening and night premiums, and pay for periods of quarantine or isolation due to outbreaks of communicable illnesses. This comes as a result of an intensive round of coordinated bargaining and almost identical, two-year arbitrated contracts awarded by Arbitrator William Kaplan to OCHU-CUPE and SEIU Healthcare on Thursday.

This award follows a June 2023 Kaplan decision that awarded these same workers a 6.25% retroactive wage increase following the defeat of Doug Ford’s unconstitutional Bill 124.

This past fall, along with Unifor, OCHU-CUPE and SEIU Healthcare proposed to bargain jointly with the Ontario Hospital Association but were denied in what the unions called “a decision clearly made to divide the unions and weaken outcomes for hospital workers.” Notwithstanding, the unions signed a Solidarity Pact and maintained collaboration and coordination across the bargaining tables. This is just the beginning from unions bringing workers together to save our hospitals.

In addition to other compensation and benefit improvements, the unions also achieved mandatory reporting around agency usage, which financial reporting makes clear is an expensive band-aid to the long-running staffing crisis.

The Award also provides for a review of healthcare work which has been privatized, with a view to assessing the viability of bringing it back within Ontario’s public hospitals.

QUOTES:

“Hospital workers can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief knowing their wages are going up six percent over the next two years with this new contract. Patients deserve hospital workers who are focused on them, not the economic anxieties they face because of years of attacks from the provincial government. After our unions delivered Premier Ford a defeat on Bill 124, this award is a win for hospital workers who have been holding the healthcare system together with sacrifice and grits, and it’s a brutal recognition that hospital services will indeed collapse without better wages for frontline staff. While data shows that Ontario patients are waiting longer for the care they need, healthcare workers shouldn’t have to beg for the tools to do their jobs well. Unfortunately, the Ford government refused to join us at the bargaining table to hear directly from frontline staff who know the solution to healthcare access can only come from investments in nurse-to-patient ratios. On that Premier Ford is AWOL. So, here’s a policy solution even politicians can understand: Raise the wage. Hire the staff. Fix the care.” – Sharleen Stewart, President, SEIU Healthcare


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