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The largest union representing workers in long-term care homes is “absolutely incensed” that Associate Health Minister Judy Junor is attempting to blame fee hikes in these facilities on unionized employees. The Canadian Union of Public Employees wants a public apology from Junor.

In front-page stories today, the Associate Health Minister said the government had to boost nursing home fees to help pay for the wage increases of unionized workers in the facilities.

John Welden, CUPEs chief spokesperson in the health sector, and Steve Foley, President of CUPEs Health Care Council are appalled by Junors comments.

“Its simply outrageous that Ms. Junor would claim that front line health workers are responsible for this fee hike, especially when our members are struggling just to keep their heads above the poverty line,” John Welden stated.

The annual salary for special care aides, the largest occupational group in nursing homes, is about $25,000. “For a single income family of four living in communities the size of Moose Jaw, thats the poverty line,” he stated. “In communities the size of Regina or Saskatoon, that special care aide is $4,000 below the poverty line,” he added.

Since nursing home workers have received only modest increases in recent years and the current collective agreement doesnt expire until next year, CUPE is demanding to know what the Associate Health Minister is talking about? he stated.

CUPE Health Council President Steve Foley stressed the government only has itself to blame for the callous fee increases. “Its just incredible that a week after the government gave huge tax cuts to the rich in the provincial budget, it would announce huge fee increases for the elderly, many of whom are living on limited fixed incomes. You have to question the governments priorities,” Mr. Foley said.

CUPE wants an immediate apology from the Associate Health Minister for her offensive and misleading comments.

For further information contact:
Steve Foley at 842-4037 or
John Welden at 382-8262

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