St. Catharines MPP wants Bill 124 repealed, citing the additional stresses to nurses
Published January 12, 2022 at 3:33 pm
St. Catharines MPP Jennie Steven is – once again – asking the Ford government to repeal Bill 124, the legislation created in 2019 that locks nurses’ and health care workers’ salary hikes at one per cent a year – less than the rate of inflation, which currently sits at 4.4 per cent nation-wide.
Steven said the bill is only exacerbating an already stressful situation where nurses are overloaded with work due to the ongoing pandemic and thinning numbers as they book off sick with COVID-19 symptoms or outright quit.
Recent figures show 354 of Niagara hospital staff members currently in self-isolation while 146 have tested positive for COVID-19 since Dec. 21.
“Fix the Health Human Resources crisis today, starting with the urgent repeal of Bill 124,” said Stevens.
“While there isn’t just a single solution to this problem (short staffing, we have to listen to health care workers and end the wage suppression that comes with the unfair Bill 124,” she continued. “These are the very people who have put everything on the line for us throughout this pandemic, and they deserve so much better.
As far back as June 2020, Steven was on the government’s back over the bill and demanding to know where and when the promise of front line workers pandemic pay would materialize.
“When it comes to capping nurses and all health care pay at less than inflation, all while calling them heroes, it absolutely is the time for accountability,” Stevens said at a time when the pandemic was only three months old.
“These front line workers are the ones who have gotten us through these last three months. Their recognition needs to be more than kind words. They can’t just be heroes only when they are quiet and come cheap.”
Bill 124 was roundly criticized when it came out as many noted the Ford government had not introduced similar legislation for other front-liners, such as firefighters and police, notably that those professions are dominated by males whereas the nursing profession is highly weighted with women.
To that end, Stevens has launched a survey for Niagara health care workers to hear their experiences. This survey is available at: https://form.typeform.com/to/KC2PU1jl