COPE Ontario members and Union leaders across Ontario are celebrating the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision that determined that Bill 124 infringed on a Union’s right to collective bargaining and freedom of association. Bill 124 limited wage increases for all public sector workers in Ontario to 1% total compensation for a three (3) year period.
Justice Koehnen stated in his decision that “the Charter of Rights and Freedom protects not just the right to associate, but also the right to a meaningful process in which unions can put on the table those issues that are of concern to workers and have them discussed in good faith. Legislation that takes issues off the table interferes with collective bargaining.”
Justice Koehnen then concluded that Bill 124 was void and of no effect.
The Attorney General’s office has indicated that the province is reviewing the decision and it is their intention to appeal the court decision.
COPE Ontario is part of the Ontario Federation of Labour coalition of approximately forty (40) Unions that challenged the constitutionality of Bill 124.
Premier Ford and his Conservative party’s Bill 28 is an abhorrent piece of legislation that seeks to impose a contract with cuts to wages, strips workers of the right to protest and suppresses their voices, and saddles workers who dare to defy such ruthless and brutal legislation by the Premier and his party with a hefty fine. This legislation also pre-emptively overrides the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code which leaves workers with no right to challenge the legislation at the Labour Board or in court.
Bill 28 is historic and precedent-setting in all the wrong ways. It seeks to attack and undermine workers and the very democratic principles and ideologies that make a civil, democratic society civil. By invoking the notwithstanding clause, Ford and the Conservative Party are seeking to trample on some of our most fundamental rights while limiting the ability of those he and his government are stomping all over to challenge him and the legislation.
As of Friday, November 4, education workers who are members of CUPE-OSBCU will be in a legal strike position. Regardless of if the Bill passes or not, these brave workers will be off the job and fighting for themselves and for all our collective human rights. We must support and stand with them.
There are many ways you can support these workers who are bravely taking a stand.
COPE Ontario stands in solidarity with education workers and all workers who are under an unprecedented attack that seeks to undermine our collective Labour and human rights. We must stand together and fight back. If history has taught us anything, the old adage remains true – the workers united will never be defeated.
COPE ONTARIO HEALTH CARE REPORT (October 2022)
COPE Ontario has instituted a regular health care report for COPE members four (4) times a year. The health care report will keep COPE members updated on the changes occurring in health care and the impact of changes on COPE health care workers.
The next issues of the COPE Health Care Report for 2022 will be in December. In 2023 the Health Care Report will be quarterly.
Privatization of Healthcare in Ontario – Part 2
On August 18, 2022, the new Minister of Health Sylvia Jones announced the Ford government’s “Plan to Stay Open, Health System Stability and Recovery” which includes investments in private clinics surgeries, legislation to permit the transfer of some hospital patients to long-term care and the governments commitment to hire 6,000 more healthcare workers as well as a five-point plan to provide the best possible care to patients and residents. Minister Jones also stated that the “status quo” is no longer acceptable. The Plan to Stay Open includes temporarily covering the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, so they can resume or begin caring for patients sooner.
The government further indicated that they are “considering options for further increasing surgical capacity by increasing the number of publicly funded surgical procedures performed at “independent health facilities” and by “investing more to increase surgeries in existing private clinics.”
By transferring some surgical procedures out of public hospitals to private clinics, this means that a public hospital system already experiencing severe shortages of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers runs the risk of escalating staff shortages to even a higher level. Private surgery clinics in Ontario accept a patient’s OHIP card for the surgical procedure but are able to charge patients for other things such as meals, physiotherapy, and more. Patients often leave a private clinic following a simple surgical procedure owing hundreds and sometime thousands of dollars which they must pay.
The Shouldice Hospital, one of Ontario’s private hospitals which specializes in hernia operations, require patients stay in hospitals for three (3) nights post-operatively. This surgical procedure is covered by OHIP. In most public hospitals patients having a hernia operation are discharged the day of their operation.
Thirty to forty per cent of Ontario’s health care system is already privatized, including services delivered by physicians, laboratories, and many walk-in clinics.
The Canada Health Act (CHA ) of 1984 sets out criteria and conditions that provincial and territorial health insurance plans have to meet in order to receive the full cash contribution for which they are eligible under the Canada Health Transfer.
It is important to remember that the role of publicly funded health insurance is to ensure that no Canadian is denied health service because of an inability to pay. For profit health care undermines the Canada Health Act and results in unequal access to quality health care.
Toronto emergency physician Dr. Lisa Salamon said that the Ontario government should focus on supporting and retaining healthcare workers instead of considering privatization to solve the province’s staffing crisis.
Expanding the privatization of health care leads to increases in staffing shortages driving skilled health care workers from public hospitals to private clinics.
A recent poll conducted by Angus Reid a non-profit Institute in September of 2022---found that half of Canadians reject the idea of more private care, and another half are less certain.
One thing is clear, Canadians are concerned about the future of healthcare. Three in five (61%) say care in their community is poor or terrible.
When Minster Jones was asked if there would be further privatization of the provincial healthcare system, she responded by saying “all options are on the table.”
Research has clearly shown that the further privatization of health care will result in health care workers moving from the public health care sector to the private health care sector. A short while ago Health Minister Sylvia Jones claimed that the health care system in Ontario was fine. However, if one looks at the actual situation in health care in Ontario, it is clear that hospitals have been closing emergency departments, and critical care units due to lack of staff, and that wait times for surgical procedures and diagnostic tests are expanding.
Home Care Privatization:
In 1996, Ontario’s former government under Premier Mike Harris began the privatization of homecare. The Harris government brought in for-profit companies to bid for services against the non-for-profit organizations such as the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), Red Cross, and others. Over a number of years, for-profit organizations took over more and more homecare services. In 2015, Ontario’s Auditor general reported that 62% of public funding for the Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) went to private home care companies.
Home care is also in crisis and the current provincial government is pushing ahead with privatizing the last public parts of homecare.
Long-term Care Privatization:
The Ford government has announced that they will be building another 30,00 new and renovated long-term care beds. The majority of these beds have been awarded to for-profit companies including chains where thousands of long-term patients died during the pandemic. Research indicates that for-profit long-term care homes hire fewer full-time staff, opting instead to hire casual and part-time staff in order to avoid providing staff decent salaries and health and welfare benefits.