Once called “heros” for being on the frontline at the height of the pandemic, the Ford government has completely turned their back on health care workers as the pandemic slows down.
Introduced in the beginning of July, Bill 195 is part of the Ontario government’s plan to reopen the province. If passed, the bill would “allow Ontario to continue its path to recovery by easing restrictions where appropriate, while maintaining important select tools to address the ongoing threat of this deadly virus”. This means that the government wants to be able to maintain the kind of broad powers they have under a declared emergency, only without having to declare an emergency.
This bill, unless amended, will override health care worker rights in areas including vacation, hours of work and opens up the possibility of contracting out their work. It will strip away their leave of absence rights, their seniority rights, their health and safety rights. In short, this bill destroys the power of collective bargaining in favour of rules imposed by the government.
From the Power of Many’s website, “Bill 195 will override front-line workers’ contracts indefinitely, even when the current emergency orders are over. The Ontario Conservatives’ Bill 195 would give the Premier and Ministers the power to break collective bargaining agreement provisions like layoff and reassignment rights, it suspends grievances, denies vacation rights, and allows for the contracting out of work. Bill 195 drastically curtails basic rights and freedoms without the need to engage in the legislative process or involve members of the Legislative Assembly.”
The government made the decision to introduce this bill unilaterally and without consulting any of the unions.
It is understandable that the government would want to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus, as cases could climb as the provinces reopens, regardless of how cautious that reopening is. We also don’t know how the virus will affect those who have recovered later down the road; could it reemerge in their systems and potentially cause another outbreak?
But this is no way to prepare our healthcare workers for the worst case scenario. Many health care workers are incredibly burnt out and suffering as they devote all of their time and energy. Now that they have a window to recover, even if it may be a small window, the government is trying to take that away from them.
We need to stop this before it moves further along and protect our healthcare workers. This is not a thank you, this is not treating them as heroes, this is going to hurt health care workers. And potentially many other workers. If we allow the government to do as they wish under the guise of a “pandemic”, what more could happen, how many other rights could be taken away?
To take action, please click on the Power of Many website link below, and you can also go to the CUPE link to sign the petition to stop Bill 195.