KAWARTHA LAKES-Seven registered nurses who worked at AbleLiving, a not-for-profit in-home and support organization for people with severe disabilities that require round-the-clock care, are being forced to give money back to the Ford government according to the Ontario Nurses Association.
“In an unsympathetic move, the Treasury Board has informed ONA and AbleLiving that it is denying an exemption from its wage-cap legislation, Bill 124, that both parties jointly requested,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “What is most distressing is that our members must now have to pay back money to the government because of this ruling. How the Ford government thinks that collecting these funds back from these hard-working nurses will save the Ontario budget is completely beyond me.”
Registered nurses at AbleLiving treat the most disadvantaged adults who have very complex care issues and require 24-hour care. Nearly all of the RNs have turned over within the past five years, making recruiting and retaining qualified staff next to impossible says ONA. Officials say the employer has acknowledged their challenging work, and freely negotiated with ONA a two-per-cent wage increase for the nurses. Yet, because of Bill 124, these nurses must now give back money freely negotiated to recognize their value, McKenna notes.
“Nursing in Ontario is cracking, and with the government being heavy-handed with pushing Bill 124 on nurses, it will continue to break until it completely shatters. This wage suppression legislation is extremely detrimental to recruitment and retention across the province. We are hearing daily of nurses leaving the profession because of disrespect. Nurses like those who work at AbleLiving must be treated fairly and Bill 124 is not fair in the least,” adds McKenna.
“AbleLiving registered nurses should not have to pay back the Ford government, and their workplace should be exempted from Bill 124, as both the employer and ONA had originally requested. It’s time for Premier Ford to honour these nurses, recognize their worth and do the right thing,” says McKenna.
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.