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TORONTO Contract talks aimed at reaching a settlement for some 200 home care workers at Senior Peoples Resources in North Toronto (SPRINT), a Toronto community-based homecare agency, have failed to avert a strike. Two hundred home care workers will set up picket lines outside SPRINT headquarters at 140 Merton Street 8 a.m. today.

Elizabeth Witmers announcement that the government is providing $92.5 million in new funding to community care agencies to expand and enhance community health care services across the province has come too late, says CUPE Representative Joanne Martin.

If the government is really committed to expanding access and strengthening the delivery of community care services, it should be concerned about the abysmal wages and working conditions faced by women and men whose work currently subsidizes the sector.

Says Martin Our members dont want to be separated from the clients who are near and dear to them but SPRINT left them with no alternative.

Witmer says the new funding will be used to expand services and to hire additional community care nurses, homemaking staff, personal support, and therapy workers. Lets hope the agencies understand that expansion for the sake of expansion, without enhancing the current base will not improve the quality of service seniors receive.

The CUPE Local 3896 members, most of them women who work as personal care aides, have been attempting to achieve modest two percent wage increases in 2000 and 2001, better sick leave for hourly paid employees and an employer-paid benefit plan for all employees who work at least 20 hours a week.

For information:
Joanne Martin, CUPE Representative
or Lauretta Brooks, President Local 3896
(416) 292-3999 (o), (416) 571-1256 (c)
Catherine Macleod, CUPE Communications Representative
(519) 395-0346 (o), (519) 668-5047 (c)

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