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(Kingston) The union representing registered nurses (RNs) and clerical staff at the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), Eastern Lake Ontario Branch, has reached an agreement that may help temporarily save the agency.

No one ever wants to see wage rollbacks, but without the unions agreement this agency may well have closed, says Cheri Dobbs, representing CUPE Local 3932. Certainly this is not a long-term solution. The local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) still does not have sufficient funds to properly pay the VON for home visits. The provincial government is responsible for creating a situation where 1100 clients in the area are still at risk of losing home care because the system remains chronically underfunded.

CUPE Local 3932s agreement on wages is part of a court-supervised restructuring process intended to prevent the VON from declaring bankruptcy. The agreement, if approved at a court hearing on June 26th, will be in effect until March 31st, 2004.

CUPE and community allies have been critical of the provinces introduction of a compulsory competitive bidding process for home care. The union says the competitive bidding process diverts already-limited resources away from patient care, and toward administrative costs and profit generation.

Weve done our part, says Dobbs, What will Health Minister Tony Clement do? If the government does not clean up the mess they have created with competitive bidding and underfunding of home care, we and the patients who rely on us will be back in this exact situation in a few months.

Before a recent round of layoffs, CUPE Local 3932 represented 90 RNs and 10 clerical staff at the VON, Eastern Lake Ontario Branch.


For more information:
Cheri Dobbs, CUPE National Representative, (613) 542-2069 (office), (613) 583-1899 (cell)

Andrea Addario, CUPE Communications, (416) 292-3999 (office)