Peterborough front-line health-care workers ask MPP Dave Smith to repeal Bill 124

Click to play video: 'Peterborough & area healthcare workers rally for repeal of Bill 124'
Peterborough & area healthcare workers rally for repeal of Bill 124
Ontario healthcare workers are continuing to ask for a repeal of Bill 124. The bill limits wage increases for healthcare professionals to 1% per year. A group gathered outside Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith's office Thursday to make their plea. Jessica Nyznik reports. – Mar 17, 2022

More than 50 front-line Peterborough-area health-care workers protested Thursday, asking their MPP to help repeal Ontario legislation that will cut their wages.

Hospital and long-term care workers gathered outside the Water Street constituency office of Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith, asking him to repeal Bill 124 — legislation enacted in 2019 which caps some public sector wages, including those for nurses, at a one-per cent annual increase.

Protesters argue the legislation hasn’t taken into account rising inflation for the province’s “pandemic heroines” which they claim will translate into a four-per cent “real wage” cut in both 2021 and 2022.

“The Ford government’s wage cap devalues and disrespects a largely female workforce that has made huge personal sacrifices,” said Maggie Jewell, a registered practical nurse and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario Council of Hospital Unions area vice-president.

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CUPE says the legislation impacts more than 70,000 registered nurses, nurse practitioners and health-care professionals.

“It cuts our real wages and leaves us with no ability to bargain badly needed mental supports after the trauma of caring for patients and residents through the pandemic,” said Jewell.

“We think most Ontarians are on the side of health-care workers. We are asking MPP Smith to stand with us in calling for this bill to be repealed.”

Global News Peterborough has reached out to Smith for comment.

CUPE also says the legislation is sexist since 90 per cent of RPNs and personal support workers are women along with 65 per cent in trades, administrative and cleaners and 75 per cent of respiratory therapists.

“At the root of it, Bill 124 is sexist and discriminatory legislation,” said Jewell. “It doesn’t cover any other emergency personnel, like paramedics, police, and fire — which tend to be male-dominated.

“It must go or many more nurses, PSWs and other staff will leave their jobs at hospitals and long-term care homes which are already struggling with staff shortages.”

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More to come…

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