Ontario hospital workers awarded 6% pay increase, new agreement on agency nurses

A sign directing visitors to the emergency department is shown at CHEO, Friday, May 15, 2015 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Some 65,000 unionized hospital workers in Ontario have been awarded a pay increase of six per cent over two years in an arbitration decision.

Workers represented by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions — CUPE (OCHU-CUPE) and SEIU Healthcare — will have their pay increased by three per cent per year for two years, with a boost to health and dental benefits also awarded, according to the union.

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The union represents groups including personal support workers, porters, food servicing and technicians in both pharmacy and X-Ray.

The same workers were given a retroactive pay increase of 6.25 per cent over three years for the period they were capped by the now-cancelled Ford government wage restraint legislation.

“Today’s arbitration decision will lift the spirits of frontline hospital workers who are struggling with impossible workloads in a staff retention crisis,” OCHU-CUPE president Michael Hurley said in a statement.

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The agreement also includes a new clause between hospitals and the union that will require regular disclosure of the use of agency nursing staff by health-care leaders in the province. Every quarter, hospitals will need to share data, including the number of hours worked by either agency nurses or PSWs.

“New measures to police agency nursing profits, review contracted-out work, and provide stable weekend staffing are also good steps forward,” Hurley added.

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