In late 2019, the Provincial Government passed a law that limited salary increases for workers in the Public sector to 1% per year for three years. Not too terrible (more below) but it exempted Firefighters and Police officers which are predominantly male while Nurses who are predominantly female are not exempt. Given their role in the current fight against the pandemic, Nurses are not happy and the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) LOCAL 105 decided to have a day of action. They campaigned outside the Port Hope Office of MPP David Piccini and their spokesperson Sarah Cowin had a meeting with David. I counted about 16 demonstrators although some were representing Gay Pride – I’m not sure what the connection is.
It’s currently easy to be supportive of first-line health workers and I would think most people would be supportive of paying them well but a report in the National Post by Randall Denley pointed to some interesting background details:
Randall said that:
- Nurses get $4/hour extra from late April to late August for pandemic pay
- Acute care nurses start at a little under $59,000 a year rising to about $71,000 after 5 years and $85,000 after 25 years.
- Nurses asked for a 2 % raise and an arbitrator said he would have awarded 1.75% if the Province’s law had not been in place.
This means that, if Randall has his facts straight, Nurses are campaigning for a general increase of 0.75%. (See Link below for the full National Post article).
Also, Nurses working at the Hospital would be affected by the law but Cobourg’s and Port Hope’s Police and Firefighters would not since they are Municipal employees.
But the bigger issue is no doubt that the new law seems to imply that nurses are not deserving of an increase while Police and Firefighters are. Further, this seems to be related to gender given the predominance of women in the Nursing profession.
In fact, their statement on the subject says:
This Day of Action has been called to bring attention to the Ontario Government’s unfair attack on women by not exempting Ontario’s predominantly female nurses from Bill 124, as it did for similar male-dominated frontline professions such as police and firefighters, thus forcing this wage suppression legislation of 1% for each of the next 3 years. This unfair labour practice will only continue to widen the pay equity gap for Ontario’s nurses.
It seems that the Nurses are not explicitly campaigning for a salary increase but instead want Nurses to also be exempt under the legislation – that is, equality of the rules with Police and Firefighters. But if there were equality, they would get an extra 0.75% – they are not allowed to strike; they must accept an arbitrator’s ruling.
Here’s a short video of their “action”.
- Randall Denley: Nurses complain about their raise while other Ontarians are losing their jobs – National Post 19 June 2020