SEIU Local 1 Canada

SEIU Local 1 Canada

June 03, 2009 07:00 ET

Red Cross Home Care Workers Endorse New Contract

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 3, 2009) - Home care workers from across Ontario voted to ratify a new contract SEIU Local 1 Canada negotiated with Red Cross Canada. The provider of home care services is now obligated to cover a portion of workers' travel time between clients.

"This agreement is a step in the right direction for Red Cross home care workers," said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Local 1 Canada. "But we still have to continue our fight to address home care working conditions and fix Ontario's dysfunctional home care system."

David Caplan, Ontario Health Minister, was urged to act in the wake of the agreement to address widening cracks in a home care system that is putting vulnerable Canadians at risk.

The deal negotiated with Red Cross was endorsed by 66 per cent of home care workers and effectively ends a month-long work stoppage of rotating strikes that began on March 20. Thousands of home care workers employed by Red Cross from Windsor to North Bay were previously forced to cover their own expenses when they travelled from client-to-client. At the end of the day, some workers were left with less money than minimum wage.

"A vast majority of employers cover their employee's travel expenses," said Cathy Carroll, Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 1 Canada. "Red Cross must do the same for their home care workers."

Ontario's home care system is far from being fixed. Many home care agencies still don't cover travel time and expenses for their employees. Many home care employees work 10-12 hours a day driving from client to client to be paid for only an 8-hour work day.

SEIU Local 1 Canada will help fix Ontario's home care system by:

- Fighting a broken system of competitive bidding between home care agencies that drives down standards and forces agencies to drastically cut rates to compete, while they download costs onto their staff.

- Winning successor rights legislation for all home care workers and eliminating "elect to work" status for home care workers. This means home care workers will have the same contract regardless of who their employer is.

- Ensuring home care workers are recognized as health care professionals through a provincial registry.

- Pressuring the Federal government to develop a national home care strategy.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada represents more than 46,000 health care and community services workers in Ontario. Local 1 members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes and community services throughout the province.

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