OPSEU/SEFPO calls on LHIN, province to prevent strike at Black Creek Community Health Centre

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling for the provincial government to rein in managers at Black Creek Community Health Centre for trying to make their front-line workers swallow heartless concessions.

The concessions include what amount to a wage cut and “cruel and unusual” limits on bereavement leave, said Thomas.

“It’s amateur-hour on the employer side, and the entire community is going to suffer if someone doesn’t hold these people accountable,” said Thomas. “The employer’s negotiating team is clearly out of its depth – they’ve wasted hours and hours of conciliation with their heels dug in on some of the most indefensible positions I’ve ever seen.

“The last thing front-line community health workers at Black Creek want to do is leave the people they care for without the help they need. But they also can’t sit back and let the employer bully them.”

The contract of the OPSEU/SEFPO members at Black Creek Community Health Centre expired on March 31, 2020, and bargaining has been at a stand-still from the start. The employer has refused to step back from its demand that the workers accept no wage increases and a variety of other cuts. One of those cuts is to their bereavement leave, which the employer insists can only be taken once a year, even if more than one relative passes away.

“Cruel and unusual – that’s the only way I can describe the employer’s approach to bargaining,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “If they can’t figure out how to treat the health centre’s front-line heroes with the gratitude and respect they deserve, it might be time for new leadership at this employer.”

Today, Monday, May 17, OPSEU/SEFPO requested that the Ministry of Labour release the “no board report” as of the result of the bargaining impasse. When confirmed, the 17-day countdown to a strike or lockout will begin, unless the parties are able to resolve the outstanding issues.

“Not one of our members wants to go on strike,” said Thomas. “But they will if it’s the only way to drum some sense into this employer and show that we’re serious about standing up to bargaining concessions that would hurt workers and the people who depend on the services they provide.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931