Carleton Place, Ont. – CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan urged Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government to look into the financial accountability of the Community Living Association–Lanark County at a news conference today outside the agency’s head office.
“Community Living Association-Lanark County has refused to access all the provincial funding for wage increases it is entitled to, at the same time it’s paying 5 times more for scabs to keep skilled CUPE members off the job,” Ryan said. “We have little choice but to ask the McGuinty government to initiate an operational review of the employer, focused on the financial accountability of the agency’s administration.”
Community Living Association–Lanark County balked at accessing provincial monies made available to increase wages in the sector – the only agency in Ontario to do so. Instead of accessing the full $1.40 more per worker per hour, the agency only accessed 50 cents more per hour, leaving workers 90 cents per hour short since 2007.
And now, the agency has spent upwards of 500 per cent more taxpayer dollars on strikebreaking than they would on regular wages for its skilled, qualified staff who know and understand the people they serve. On at least one occasion, striking staff have had to call police after witnessing replacement workers inappropriately restraining residents.
“Other Community Living Agencies had the foresight to access the available wage gap money, but the Lanark ED’s decision to forgo the funding set the stage for the current strike, which is now into its 7th week,” Ryan said.
The 90 members of CUPE 1521-02 have been on strike since early July, seeking access to the same pension plan Community Living workers across the province rely on. Despite numerous efforts by the union to bargain a settlement, the employer has dismissed all proposals out of hand.
“The employer is prolonging this strike by betraying its workers, betraying the public purse and, most importantly, betraying the residents of Lanark,” Ryan said. “Such betrayal requires intervention by the Provincial government, in order to ensure society’s most vulnerable are not used as pawns by an employer more interested in ‘running the clock’ than negotiating a fair settlement.”
Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President, cell 416 209 0066
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell 613 878 1431, firstname.lastname@example.org