Health-care workers protest Ontario’s 1% wage increase cap on public employees

Health-care workers rallied outside of the Orillia hospital to protest the Ford government's one per cent yearly wage increase cap on public sector employees. Supplied/NSMDLC

Healthcare workers rallied outside the Orillia hospital on Tuesday to protest the Ontario government‘s one per cent wage increase cap per year on public sector employees — also known as Bill 124.

Last month, Canada’s annual inflation rate surged to 3.7 per cent, the biggest increase in more than a decade.

Read more: Ontario government passes bill to cap public sector wage increases at 1 per cent

The current inflation rate would mean public sector workers — including healthcare employees — will see a two per cent purchasing power cut, while their housing and food costs go up, according to the North Simcoe Muskoka & District Labour Council (NSMDLC)

“Our healthcare workers went from being heroes to near zeroes in the eyes of this government,” NSMDLC President Mike De Rose said in a statement.

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“These men and women have sacrificed their health and safety, their time with their own families, and sometimes even their own mental and physical health to support us through COVID-19, and now they aren’t even able to negotiate a meaningful cost of living increase?”

De Rose said he’s heard working conditions have deteriorated for healthcare staff during the pandemic and that healthcare settings are “chronically and critically” understaffed.

Read more: Ontario government moves to cap pay increases for public service workers

“If inflation were to keep this pace, a four-year contract could set workers back a whopping eight per cent from where they are now,” the NSMDLC added.

De Rose said his organization is calling on MPP Jill Dunlop and the Doug Ford government to repeal Bill 124 and the yearly one per cent wage increase cap.

Tuesday’s rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents many different health-care workers. The NSMDLC was also represented at the protest.

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