Group of workers wearing masks and holding signs that say "Conditions of work are conditions of care"Buoyed by the presence of union leaders and community allies, long-term care workers participated in a car cavalcade outside their workplace on Tuesday morning to protest layoffs. Durham Christian Homes, which operates the Glenhill Marnwood location in Bowmanville, Ontario, is laying off about 70 workers as it relocates to a new modern building in Whitby in January 2021.

Nurses and personal support workers represented by CUPE have been asked to reapply for their jobs at the new location after refusing to accept wage freezes and other concessions, while jobs in dietary, housekeeping and other services are being permanently contracted out.

“This is unconscionable. Long-term care is facing a staffing crisis precisely because of these cost-cutting tactics that undervalue workers. If we want to meaningfully reform the sector, we must provide decent, well-paying jobs. This employer is doing the opposite,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary Treasurer of CUPE Ontario.

“The workers at this location have worked very hard throughout the pandemic to prevent outbreaks and provide quality care to residents. This is not the way to treat frontline workers deemed to be heroes.”

The union is calling on the Ontario government to revoke the license of the employer’s new home in Whitby, which will be receiving tax dollars for the next 25 years to subsidize building costs.

Durham Christian Homes is a non-profit employer but its CEO, Ruth McFarlane, has a seat on the board of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association. The OLTCA predominantly represents for-profit employers and has lobbied for deregulation of staffing standards over the years

“Turning around the labour force problems in long-term care has to be based on decently paid, full-time employment and job security. If the provincial government lets long-term care employers abscond from their contracts with their workforces we are on a race to the bottom and we will lose more and more staff,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, said the Ford government must intervene to shows its seriousness about reforming the long-term care system.

“We are calling on the provincial government to take over the home to keep the residents and workers safe. You can’t provide good quality care by treating workers poorly.”