3,000 Red Cross Workers Begin Strike Action

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3,000 Red Cross Workers Begin Strike Action

TORONTO – 3,000 women and men who work for Red Cross providing home care services will begin strike action starting with a one day strike in the Sudbury region commencing at 11am today.


“The women and men who provide home care support have been pushed to the limit. The McGuinty Government needs to take responsibility for the crisis in Ontario’s home care system,” says Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada.


Red Cross is one of the largest agencies under contract with the government to provide home care services. Home care is the delivery of health care and support services in the home. This service enables seniors, people with disabilities, people recovering from surgery and children with special needs to access care in a more comfortable environment.


Red Cross personal support workers with SEIU have been in a legal strike position since Monday. Last summer, Red Cross home care workers voted 88 per cent in support of a strike to address key issues. After months of bargaining it’s clear that a resolution isn’t possible unless the government acts.


Home care workers across Ontario have been in a legal position to strike since Monday. Strike action begins today with a one-day action in Sudbury. Home care workers in Sudbury will be back on the job tomorrow. Red Cross home care workers also provide services in Toronto, Windsor, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Timmins, Peterborough, Cornwall, Burlington and other communities around the province.


“Ontario’s home care system isn’t working. The McGuinty Government has adopted a system that leaves the professionals who provide key home health services living below the poverty line. The services our members provide are a vital part of the health care system, and the McGuinty Government has to take responsibility,” said Stewart.


They need your support.


This is a holdover from Harris who started the underfunding of CCAC's in order to fill up private nursing home beds that his cronies were overbuilding. The Ontario government still farms CCAC work out to the lowest bidder, standards and accountability be damned; and of course that agency then has to take their cut before passing along the meagre remainder to staff. Many of these jobs are now unfilled. They can't get qualified people to work under these conditions.

rural - Francesca rural - Francesca's picture

I love how the local coverage starts out...Owen Sound Sun Times

"With few exceptions, Red Cross personal support workers in Grey-Bruce stopped bathing clients, caring for the dying and helping wheelchair-bound people in their homes Wednesday as a rotating strike making its way across the province interrupted work here."

See how mean these workers are...they left the most vunerable alone...to DIE!!

Ok I"m exaggerating, but that's how I read it


All high priority clients are continued to be cared for. High priority can be defined as those that require daily care, 7 days a week, holidays included.

The only clients that do not get care for this one day strike are the ones that get care for once or twice a week, or every second day and not on holidays.


To put this in context, these workers have been without a contract for many months. This responsible job action is the only way they can get their employer to come to the table to address the problem that workers do not get paid for the periods of time they spend travelling between clients. They only get paid for the time they spend actually providing care -- and never nearly enough time for what really needs to be done, but that's not a bargaining issue this round.

Up until now, the employer's response has been to offer them less money for the same work.

The Red Cross workers earn up to about $15.00 per hour, less travel time (which may be several hours per shift) for challenging and physically demanding work that includes assisting with basic personal hygeine. Nursing home employees doing the same job don't have to travel, they get paid straight through their shift, they can call on co-workers for assistance when required, and they are paid up to $19.00 an hour. That's why there is an average 40% turnover in these jobs over the life of a three-year agreement.

We say that we want to give elderly and disabled people the dignity of remaining in their homes and communities as long as possible. We want to free up hospital beds for urgent cases, not long-term care or recovery. It is much cheaper to provide care this way and it is almost always the clients' fervent preference. Yet we're underfunding community care providers, by a program of farming out service contracts for competitive bidding, to such an extent that even the most committed and caring workers often can't afford to keep these jobs.

These clients are some of the most vulnerable people in the province and their suffering is tremendously increased by this cruel and heartless practice.

The Ontario government’s decision to invest in massive corporate tax cuts instead of working people is an example of misplaced priorities, according to Sharleen Stewart President of SEIU Local 1 Canada.

“This government is ready to hand billions to companies that are making good money – but doesn’t have a cent for a working woman struggling in home care,” said Stewart.

Women and men who provide home care services in Ontario are often surviving on wages that leave them below the poverty line. While the government has set a “minimum wage” of $12.50 an hour – home care workers are only paid for a fraction of the hours in their work day.




Here here triciamarie.  You couldn't be more right.  I've always thought that our society was messed up.  We pay millions to CEO's, hockey players etc. and yet the people who look after us when we are old and frail or the daycare workers who look after our children, make nothing.

Our country seems incapable of wrapping our minds around the urgent need to get homecare right.  Hopefully this job action will raise people's awarness of the real problems faced by workers in this industry and this industry as a whole.


About time. Those working as home care support workers for the CRC in Ontario start out with $13, have to work an obscene amount of hours including shift work that changes by the day, and have a heavy physical/psychological burden. When the vote came around, these taxed workers were told by their fear-mongering management that if they voted for a strike they would lose their jobs because the government cannot afford to raise their pay during this recession. I am glad they didn't listen. Their working conditions are VERY poor and something needs to be done NOW.


A Video interview of Cathy Carroll, SEIU  from Bracebridge yesterday.





Here is a blog to keep Home-care workers and the public up to date with the latest strike locations and news. http://pswlocal1.blogspot.com/


350 Home Care Workers to be Fired in Retaliation for Strike


TORONTO, ONTARIO - Home care workers and their supporters occupied the headquarters of the Toronto Community Access Centre today after learning that 350 women and men who work for Red Cross were going to lose their jobs because they exercised their right to bargain for a better contract.

"These women and men are trying to improve their lives and the quality of the home care system. No one should lose their job for that," said Louise Leeworthy an SEIU home care worker. "We've been taking strike action for over a month and not a single person with essential health needs has gone without support. Home care workers in Toronto haven't missed a day of work."

Last night, SEIU was informed by Red Cross management that they would be firing 350 home care workers in the Toronto-area after the Toronto Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) declared that they would be switching to other providers. Camille Orridge, the CEO of Toronto CCAC, claimed that they decision was a result of Red Cross home care workers decision to take strike action.

Members of SEIU Local 1 Canada employed by Red Cross have been in a legal strike position since March. Rotating one-day strikes have taken place in communities across Ontario. All clients with essential health needs have received the same regular care. No strike action has been taken in Toronto.

Home care workers have chosen to take strike action after years of poor work conditions. While the government has set a "minimum wage" of $12.50 an hour - home care workers are only paid for a fraction of the hours in their work day. Home care providers spend as much as a third of their day travelling from client to client - time that no home care agency provides real compensation for. Statistic Canada calculates a "low income cut off" annually. In 2006, a single mother in Toronto with one child had to earn $21,384 a year to be above that cut-off. Many home care workers don't earn this much. By contrast, Camille Orridge, the CEO of the Toronto CCAC, receives over $180,000 in annual compensation.

"I'm not asking for a six-figure salary," said Leeworthy. "All we want is to be able to do our job."

Source SEIU


It appears that the CCAC won't be cancelling its contract with Red Cross now. Negotiations are resuming Monday, so they are going to wait and see what happens.




Red Cross and SEIU have reached a tentative agreement