Gains achieved on central issues:
time - a deal at the table
The HPD central bargaining team announced May 2
that a tentative settlement has been reached on the HPD Central
Language. After twelve days of bargaining and three days of intensive
mediation, our team arrived at a deal that they could unanimously recommend
It is the first time since February 2000 that
central issues have been resolved at the table without going to
HPD central negotiators report a huge attitude
change on the part of the hospitals and an increased respect for both
our work and the positions we take at the table, over the past two
There are many important improvements on our issues
and we were successful in forcing the hospitals to withdraw
concessions they were seeking in the areas of notice of layoff,
benefits, percentage in lieu of benefits for part-time employees, and
call-back and stand-by premiums.
Your central HPD team made improvements on wages,
benefits, job security, premium payments, and a number of other key
issues that will positively affect HPD members.
Key details of the tentative agreement include:
Improved labour stability from a proposed three year term (running
April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009)
Improvements to job security language and other non-monetary issues
Both parties have agreed to ratification no later
May 25, 2006.
“We have accomplished many important improvements.
We hope that this settlement will set a foundation for an improved
working relationship as we face the challenges ahead," said
Yves Shank, chair of the OPSEU central negotiating team.
This proposed settlement covers 43 participating
hospitals covering approximately 6,500 employees.
1, 2006 - 3%
1, 2007 - 3%
1, 2008 - 3.25%
Benefits improvements were achieved in the areas
of vision care, dental, and coverage for part-time workers and
workers over the age of 65
Participating members will vote on ratification of
the deal in May. Details of the improvements to our contract if the
settlement is ratified are available on the web site at:
Please see our collective bargaining web page and
view issue 3, of our bulletin,
Hospital Professionals at the Table.
the Central Team Chair
As we all
study the Settlement and prepare to cast our votes at our various
ratification meetings, I wish to thank the members of your Central
Bargaining Team for the work done on your behalf. The division had set
some very hefty goals. We were given a series of tight timelines and
compressed negotiation dates, which meant that this team would have to
faced with an OHA team that was as determined as we were, and wanted
resolutions for their issues, which led to a few unexpected impasses
to be overcome. We were faced with three days of mediation which went
late into the night, and faced decisions that were not as easy as some
in the past two rounds.
worked hard. We listened, argued and discussed the issues while
respecting every opinion. The debates were often heated and
interesting, but that is what we call negotiations. We bring you this
Settlement and believe it to be a good settlement for our members. We
hope you agree, but only time will tell.
I take this
opportunity to thank the team members for their support of me as
chair. I have realized over these past three rounds that the reason
the HPD is strong is from the quality of its leaders at the local
We thank you
for your support and cooperation.
rally against private (P3) hospitals in Toronto
Federation of Labour is organizing a giant rally at Queen’s Park to
draw attention to the McGuinty government’s P3 agenda.
Infrastructure minister David Caplan is correct when he says that
Ontario’s infrastructure deficit could be as much as $100 billion.
However, his prescription for addressing that deficit could put
billions in the hands of private corporations and create a legacy of
unnecessary debt for the next generation.
money gets tight, the first place to cut costs is usually through
layoffs and job cuts. That’s why health care workers are so fearful of
Caplan announced 28 hospital projects using what he calls “alternate
financing and procurement,” or “AFPs.” Most of us know this
arrangement by another name: a “public-private partnership, or a “P3.”
just for hospitals
been creeping into Ontario for some time, often below the public
radar. And they aren’t just for hospitals and highways, like the 407.
Recently announced P3s include new court houses in Waterloo and Oshawa,
a $700 million light rail project in Ottawa, a new arts center for
Orleans. These projects are being initiated by all levels of
government as the private sector lobby grows.
represents a remarkable turnaround by the McGuinty Liberal government,
who campaigned against using P3 financing, recognizing three years ago
that these projects cost more and deliver less.
McGuinty not only attacked the Tories for developing two new hospitals
this way, but vowed he would bring these hospitals back into the
public sector. “We believe in public ownership and public financing,”
he said at the time.
hospital deal expected to cost $300 million more
Only a year
after these remarks, McGuinty signed the two private deals the Tories
set up for the William Osler and Royal Ottawa Hospitals. The
government has been fighting in the courts since to keep these deals
out of the sight of the public.
McGuinty has a good reason to – government is not contesting the $300
million estimate in added costs advocates say the public will be
paying for the Osler deal. That’s $300 million more than it would cost
to use public financing of the building.
hospital projects announced in the fall, and the new Woodstock General
Hospital announced recently, the extra costs of these projects could
be crippling to future government finances.
job cuts and scandals
The truth is
coming out. In Nova Scotia, a pro-privatization Tory government had to
cancel a P3 school construction program amid cost overruns, scandals
and lack of public control. In Hamilton the city had to take back its
water service after poor performance by several P3 consortiums.
an average of 30 per cent of staff at P3 hospitals was cut to balance
And we all
know about how much control the government had over the skyrocketing
costs of P3 Highway 407 – none. It’s no wonder David Caplan prefers to
call these projects AFPs, and not by their real name.
of events is beginning to change. The P3 Union Station deal in Toronto
recently collapsed after the private consortium was unable to meet the
terms set out by City Hall. Many communities
are taking back their water services after poor performance by large
international water companies. We cannot stop now.
The Ontario Federation of
Labour is organizing a 1 pm rally on June 3rd at Queen’s Park to draw
attention to the McGuinty government’s P3 agenda. Together we can make
OPSEU is organizing buses to bring members from nearby
regions to the rally. Watch for details soon on the OPSEU web site.
Planning for a pandemic
Planning for disaster and adversity is important. It
is particularly important when the event causing the disaster is both
predictable and inevitable. Hurricane Katrina was an example of what
can happen when there is no proper disaster plan. Katrina was no
surprise. It was a predictable and inevitable event. There were even a
few days warning that “this
storm” was going to be ”the
storm.” Still the richest and most powerful country in the world
stood in a state of paralysis as it unfolded
The H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) that is
getting all the headlines of late has many of the characteristics of a
virus that could (but
not necessarily will) become the next Pandemic Influenza. It is a
prime suspect and is being watched very carefully.
It has highlighted two important issues. The first is
that a Pandemic Influenza is an inevitable event. The second is that
the world is under-prepared for this inevitable event. It has also
caught the attention of the public policymakers who wisely do not wish
to be caught unprepared, as happened with Katrina. The importance of
planning has grown with the complexity of our society. Just-in-time
delivery of just about everything is now the norm from auto
manufacturers to grocery stores. Even hospitals carry as little
inventory as possible. What happens if 30 per cent of the truck
drivers get sick?
Planning is under way
Fortunately, planning for a pandemic is underway at
national, provincial and local levels, and that is a good thing. But
despite the fact that, during a pandemic, health care workers will be
on the front line, the focus of much of the planning to date has not
focused adequately on protecting the front line. In health care,
planning is largely focusing on how to keep the system functioning
given the possibility that 30 per cent of health care workers may be
ill themselves – committees
are addressing issues such as supplies, availability of beds and
equipment, laboratory testing, stockpiling of vaccines and antivirals,
labour supplies, but ironically, planners at the Ministry of Health
and Long Term Care have resisted inserting occupational health and
safety content into the planning process. OPSEU, working closely with
ONA, is at many of these planning committees trying to make sure that
the frontline healthcare workers are given proper consideration
particularly when it comes to the health and safety of workers. We are
not yet satisfied that our concerns have been addressed appropriately.
One of our more serious concerns is the presumption
that surgical masks, not respirators, will be sufficient protection
even for high risk procedures that
generate aerosols such as intubation, There appear to be
two distinct camps when it comes to respiratory protection.
The traditional infection control camp generally takes
an approach that they call “evidence based.” When it is proven
conclusively that there is significant transmission of an agent by the
airborne route, then respirators such as N95s should be considered for
those at risk of exposure. Traditional infection control practitioners
are firm believers in the three-foot (1m) rule which says that the big
nasty infectious influenza droplets cannot remain airborne farther
than three feet after being expelled by a cough or sneeze and the
little droplets that can remain airborne don’t matter. Therefore,
there is no need to supply workers with anything more protective than
surgical masks to protect them from these large droplets. There is a
substantial body of evidence to dispute the ‘3-foot rule’ but many
infection control practitioners appear to be willing to dismiss it.
Precautionary approach is
The other camp out there is that of the Industrial
Hygienists. These practitioners believe that it is more than possible
that influenza can be transmitted through the air, and consequently
those at risk of exposure should be provided with respirators to
protect them. This philosophy, unlike an ‘evidence-based approach,’
does not require healthcare workers to prove harm with their bodies.
This approach is consistent with the “Precautionary Principle” which
requires precautionary measures to be taken when there is a threat to
human health, even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not
fully established scientifically.
Manufacturers of masks and respirators (N95) are
quite clear on their products’ capabilities. Masks protect the patient
from you. Only properly fit-tested respirators can protect you from
aerosols. A mask is not a respirator.
OPSEU wants the Ontario Health Pandemic Influenza Plan
(OHPIP) to include a Respiratory Protection Appendix that is based on
the “Precautionary Principle” and clearly reference the appropriate
requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act throughout.
Emergency Measures or Draconian Powers?
“Emergency orders will not work if they leave workers deep concern for
their personal health and safety. The deepest concern of workers in an
infectious outbreak is not their own safety but the safety of their
families and those they may infect if not properly protected.
Emergency orders that do not meet these concerns cannot be enforced.”-
Justice Archie Campbell (SARS Commission)
While we were busy with
LHINS, needlesticks, bargaining, workplace violence etc, the McGuinty
government introduced Bill 56-
Emergency Management Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006. It
has already had second reading. This Bill gives the government
extraordinary powers during a declared provincial emergency, powers
that have huge implications for Hospital Professionals. It defines our
work as “Necessary Services” and gives the Premier power of:
“The procurement of necessary goods,
services and resources, the distribution, availability and use of
necessary goods, services and resources and the establishment of
centres for their distribution.”
The Bill gives powers to:"
The authorization of any person, or any person of a class of persons,
to render services of a type that that person, or a person of that
class, is reasonably qualified to provide”
It overrides collective
agreements which have provisions for worker participation in handling
emergencies (Article 30).
And it has nasty teeth to
intimidate workers: Failing to
comply with an emergency order or interfering with a person acting
under an emergency order are offences which carry a fine of up to
$10,000,000 for corporations, $500,000 for corporate directors and
officers and $100,000 for other persons.”
And this is per day!
Imprisonment is also possible. This may severely limit our ability to
act to protect and advocate for our rights in an emergency.
Fortunately the Bill does
not override the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It does provide a
basic “Good Samaritan” clause offering some protection for people
conscripted or volunteered into service. It extends WSIB protection
for people volunteered into service that are not normally covered
Extraordinary powers afforded
Some employment protection
is offered for people seconded from normal duties, but not enough to
offset the power to compel workers in a manner usually reserved for
those who voluntarily sign up for military service.
The government says they
don’t intend to conscript workers against their will, they don’t mean
to strip away collective agreement rights, and they don’t intend to
bully unions and their members with threats of fines and imprisonment
if they stick up for their basic human rights. If this is so, then why
not state so clearly in the Bill?
Workers will be there when
One has to ask why the government would need powers to
compel workers in emergencies? In all true emergencies, workers have
a proud history of rising to the occasion without being compelled by
law. Governments in exercising such powers have a less than
encouraging history. Workers have reason to be concerned when
governments say “Trust us”
members call their MPPs and tell them these powers are both
unnecessary and dangerous. Governments should trust
us. Workers have reliably
demonstrated that trust. We were always there for our communities in
the past. We will be there for them in the future.
debate moves to the drafting of regulations
The Local Health Integration Networks became law in
March, creating a framework that will require the drafting of
regulations to make it workable.
The leaders of the four unions campaigning against
the LHINs – OPSEU, ONA, CUPE and SEIU -- have met with health minister
George Smitherman on several occasions with the goal of achieving a
table to discuss human resource issues.
We also must work to protect workers against the
widening of the competitive bidding process to LHINs-funded health
care providers. The competitive bidding system has made a shambles of
home care, with runaway costs and inconsistent services offered from
one region to another. Staff shortages brought about by an unstable
workplace are leaving some home care agencies no choice but to turn
This is the model that health care providers,
including hospitals, could easily face under the LHINs.
Some achievements of our campaign so far include:
only health service providers could appeal a LHINs integration
decision. Now the public has 30 days to respond in writing,
aboriginal and francophone communities
now have their own advisory panel,
language restricting when LHINs meetings could go in-camera,
access to service agreements between the LHINs and the health service
definition of community,
which includes health care workers (but does not specify their
service providers are expected to develop human resources adjustment
principles of the Canada Health Act have been recognized in the
access to any reports from the CCACs to the government.
Members are encouraged to attend LHIN community
consultations in their area so input from front-line workers is
included in the action plans that each of the 14 LHINs must submit to
the Ministry in the fall.
Deal in Ottawa ratified
The members of Local 464 ratified a new two-year
contract at The Ottawa Hospital. More than 2,100 HPD members, who make
up OPSEU’s largest bargaining unit, will receive wage increases of 3
per cent retroactive to April 1, 2005, and an additional 3 per cent
retroactive to April 1, 2006. Achievements in this round also included
improvements to benefits, more flexible working arrangements, and
better working conditions for part-time employees. The
collective agreement expires March 31, 2007. Details of the deal are
Benefit coverage for
students under age 25
Recently we have had a number of members who said
their employer has denied them coverage for a dependant who is under
25 and attending school.
Locals in several hospitals such as
Thunder Bay and North
Bay have had to submit grievances over this issue. Both have been
The centrally negotiated benefit plan says a
dependent child means a natural or adopted or step child who is not
married or in any other formal union recognized, who is entirely
dependent on you for maintenance and support and who is:
21 years of age
25 years and attending a college or university full-time and
physically or mentally handicapped incapable of self support
Normally the employer will ask for proof they are
attending school, but it should not be a problem. Hospitals known to
have used this benefit with no problems are Lakeridge Health
Corporation and Kingston General.
If your employer is denying you this benefit raise
it with the human resource benefit officer, if denied then grieve
under Article 20 - Health and welfare benefits.
For more information contact your staff
breaks an issue in locals
The issue of Lunch Breaks appears to be an issue at
many locals, particularly as to when does overtime apply. The contract
says an employee is entitled to an uninterrupted lunch break but
another issue is
whether or not an employee can leave the building during their lunch
break time. In many instances supervisors have instructed employees
they cannot leave the building or area/department and must be
available for an emergency or stat event.
In these circumstances the lunch break is not the
employee’s own unpaid time but additional work time required by the
employer. In these situations the employee should put in an overtime
claim for one-half hour at time and one-half which results in an extra
forty five (45) minutes of paid time.
local has dealt with this issue and their employer has agreed to
automatically pay thirty (30) minutes to any employee who cannot leave
building, area or department, or who must carry a beeper.
My local has put the employer on notice that we
will be asking for overtime for all members in these situations. It
is time to stop working for free.
Hospital Professionals Division
Patricia Rout Local
348 Chair Lakeridge Health Corp. Oshawa
Local 659 Vice-Chair Sudbury Regional Hospital
Secretary Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto
Local 566 Treasurer Toronto East General
Local 141 Education & Membership Huron Perth Healthcare
Kilcline Local 444 Health & Safety Kingston
Local 464 Job Security Ottawa Hospital
Local 466 Public Policy Perth & Smiths Falls District
Local 659 Chair -
Central Team Sudbury Regional Hospital
Peggy Burke Local
662 First Alternate North Bay General Hospital
Authorized by Leah
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