SEIU Local 1

SEIU Local 1

April 30, 2009 10:57 ET

Tentative Deal for Red Cross Home Care Workers

Victory for Red Cross-but home care battle continues says SEIU

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 30, 2009) - Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada announced today that home care workers employed by Red Cross have reached a tentative agreement which represents another step in the ongoing campaign to fix Ontario's home care system. The tentative deal ends rotating strikes that have been taking place since March 20.

"Across Ontario more and more people are joining SEIU's movement to fix Ontario's home care system. The 3,000 women and men who work for Red Cross took a stand to raise standards and improve home care in Ontario. This agreement shows they've made a difference," said Sharleen Stewart President of SEIU Local 1.

The new agreement addresses long-standing concerns around unpaid travel time. Across Ontario, home care workers spend several unpaid hours a day in their cars or on public transit so they can visit people at home and provide care. As a result, after a day of work they're often left with less than they'd earn at a minimum wage job.

"Together we've made real progress and this agreement shows it - but we have much more to do. We need to build support so we can take a message directly to the government of Ontario. The crisis in home care needs to be fixed," said Stewart.

The provincial government provides funding for all home care services in Ontario. However, rather than providing home care as a public service, the government forces different agencies to compete for three year contracts. Agencies are awarded contracts based on their ability to provide services and, of course, cost. Not surprisingly, agencies have to lower costs to win bids. That cost-cutting impacts the service people receive and the compensation of the people who provide it. Over two years ago, the government promised to set minimum working standards for home care workers - to guarantee that home care professionals wouldn't be living in poverty. Unfortunately, home care workers are still waiting.

As a result, turnover in the home care sector is high. Waiting lists for home health services are growing and too many Ontarians are in expensive hospital beds instead of receiving their health care in the comfort of their home.

"I'm proud of what we've accomplished and I'm proud of SEIU," said home care worker Louise Leeworthy. "Home care workers across the province can see what happens when we stand up for better home care."

Stewart noted that home care workers face many more serious challenges, "Over the last month the women and men who work for Red Cross were repeatedly threatened with firing by the government agencies they work for. It's clear that the agenda is to cut costs at any cost. We need to keep organizing in communities to ensure that Red Cross and other agencies don't lose contracts for paying a living wage."

Red Cross workers will be holding ratification votes over the next three weeks in communities across Ontario.

Contact Information

  • SEIU Canada
    Elliott Anderson
    905-695-1203 x 226 or c 647-237-7348