Updates

Superior Court Justice Koehnen Strikes Down Bill 124

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.

COPE Ontario Stands with Education Workers and All Workers in Ontario

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.

  • To find your closest picket line, please use CUPE’s Picket Line Finder here: https://cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully/. You can also send an email to Ford using the email form provided on the page. For those who live closest to an NDP MPP office, please consider travelling to your nearest PC MPP’s office to picket. The NDP is standing in solidarity with education workers, and we thank them for their solidarity.
  • Email your MPP and let them know you’re opposed to this draconian legislation and that you stand with education workers using the OFL’s handy email your MPP tool found here: https://ofl.ca/action/email-hands-off/
  • Keep an eye on https://cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully/ and CUPE’s social media channels for the latest directly from CUPE:
  • For our members working in education, keep in touch with your Local and their communications for your protocol on how to navigate this all.
  • Stay vigilant and ready to act – in the coming days, there’ll be further actions called. Hear the calls to action and rise to stand with your fellow workers.

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 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.

COPE Ontario Health Care Report - July 2022

COPE ONTARIO HEALTH CARE REPORT (July 2022)

COPE Ontario is instituting 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 October and December. In 2023 the health care report will be quarterly.

New Health Minister:

The Ministry of Health of Ontario is the ministry responsible for the administrating the healthcare system in Ontario. On June 20, 2019, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care were split into two (2) separate ministries, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Premier Doug Ford unveiled his new cabinet on Friday, June 24, 2022. The new Minister of Health is Sylvia Jones, who will also be the Deputy Premier of Ontario.

She takes over from the former Minister of Health Christine Elliot who did not seek re-election after serving in the role for more than two (2) years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sylvia Jones is the member representing Dufferin-Caledon and has held this seat since she was first elected following the 2007 general election.

She was appointed to the provincial cabinet after the Conservative Party formed government in 2018, and has been the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Solicitor General of Ontario.

She attended Fanshawe College, where she received a diploma in radio broadcasting. She also worked as an executive assistant to former Progressive Conservative (PC) leader John Tory. The Ministry of Health consumes almost half (75 billion) of provincial program spending.

Ministry of Long-Term Care:

The Ministry of Long-Term Care’s role in health care is to ensure that Ontarians have access to quality long-term care in a safe, home-like environment.

Minister of Long-Term Care:

Paul Calandra will remain as the Minister of Long-Term Care. He has served as a Minister in the Ontario cabinet since 2019. He has been the government house leader for the Progressive Conservatives since 2019, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Minister of Long-Tern Care since 2022.  He represents Markham-Stouffville in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Canada Health Act:

The Canada Health Act is a statute of the Parliament of Canada, adopted in 1984, which establishes the framework for federal financial contributions to the provincial and territorial health insurance programs, commonly known as “medicare.”  The Canada Health Act is federal legislation that provides the foundation for the Canadian health care system. The Act is administered by Health Canada, the federal department with primary responsibility for ensuring and improving the health of Canadians. The Act also establishes certain principles and sets out the criteria and conditions that each health insurance plan, such as OHIP, must meet in order to receive funding. These requirements are public administration, universality, comprehensiveness, and accessibility. Extra billing is also banned by the Act.  In order to qualify for federal funding, provinces and territories must provide coverage for all “insured health services” which includes hospital services, physician services, and surgical-dental services provided to insured persons, if they are not covered by any other program. “insured persons” is defined as anyone who is a resident of a province or territory and lawfully entitled to be or remain in Canada.

The provinces and territories administer and deliver most of Canada’s health care services, with all provincial and territorial health insurance plans expected to meet the national principles set out under the Canada Health Act. Each provincial and territorial health insurance plan covers medically necessary hospital and doctor’s services that are provided on a pre-paid basis, without direct charges at the point of service.

The role of the Ontario government in health care includes:

  • Administration of health insurance plans;
  • Planning and funding of care in hospitals and other health facilities; such as services provided by doctors and other health care professionals;
  • Planning and implementation of health promotion and public health initiatives; and
  • Negotiation of fee schedules with health professionals.
  • Section 15 of the Canada Health Act allows the federal government to withhold all or part of the transfer payment to a provinces and territories for non-compliance with the Act.

Hospital Sector Update:

Several COPE collective agreements have been resolved for the next period of time up to and including March of 2024, e.g., Smooth Rock Falls Hospital and the Smooth Rock Falls Detoxification Centre,

Dryden Regional Health Sciences Centre March 31, 2023

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is proceeding to interest arbitration.

Sensenbrenner Hospital and London Health Sciences Centre are currently in negotiations.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Service Workers International Union (SEIU) have been bargaining with centrally with Hospital Employers.  Negotiations have reached an impasse and an arbitration date has been set for either late June or early July. The arbitration award when issued will affect approximately 70, 000 health care workers in the hospital sector primarily service and clerical worker and Registered Practical Nurses.

The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPEU) have been bargaining in the hospital sector centrally for paramedical workers and received an interest arbitration award on July 7, 2022. Their current collective agreement expired on March 22, 2022.  The new collective agreement is for the period April 1, 2022, until March 31, 2025. This award affects approximately 12, 536 employees in 59 different hospitals

  The wage increases awarded were 1% in each year of the collective agreement, as per Bill 124, effective April 1, 2022, 2023 and 2024.  Slight increases were also awarded for evening and weekend premiums in each year of the agreement.  The Board of Arbitration also awarded language dealing with the elimination of a bargaining unit position.

Privatization of Healthcare in Ontario - Part 1

Privatization of Healthcare in Ontario – Part 1

Medicare is a publicly funded single-payer system that is a source of national pride in Canada.  Proponents of privatization of healthcare believe that private healthcare should be allowed to operate alongside Canada’s publicly funded Medicare. Among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and  Development (OECD) countries with publicly funded healthcare Canada is considered middle of the road with a 70% :30% public-private split of healthcare expenditures. It was not that long ago that virtually all Canadian medical care existed in the public sphere. Further privatization of Canada’s healthcare system will siphon talent and resources away from Canada’s already overstretched public health system. Many advocates of further privatization of healthcare argue that private healthcare should be allowed to operate alongside Canada’s public funded Medicare system.

Ontarians should be aware and concerned about the continuation of privatization of social and public services that the Ford government continues to impose on the public.  The government continues to claim that privatization will save taxpayers money, although there is abundant evidence that privatization does not save money, and that it almost always results in a lower quality of service. Some examples of privatization by the current provincial government include the contracting out of the care co-ordination role for home care and the continuation of privatization of long-term care homes. The Ford government is currently in the process of privatizing 18,000 long-term care beds over the next thirty (30) years. They have also passed legislation to privatize the remaining parts of homecare. The Ford government has also expanded the private sector’s role in COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

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:  

 

In1996, 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 

 

 

Healthcare Sector Meetings - 2022

COPE Ontario will be hosting virtual meetings for all COPE Ontario Healthcare Sector Locals and or bargaining units. Local Presidents, Chairpersons, current negotiating committee and Executive Board members are invited to participate. Meetings start at 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Upcoming Meetings scheduled:

November 30

Please register with Pina Farisco at [email protected] or with Maureen O'Halloran at [email protected] 

 

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