Hull Hospital workers protest staff shortages
We begin this week in Gatineau, Québec, where workers at Hull Hospital held a courageous sit-in to protest the increased workload and hours as a result of ongoing staff shortages. “Attendants, maintenance workers, administrators and food service staff took part in the sit-in to get their message across,” the CBC reported.
Hospitals in the Outaouais region (which includes Hull Hospital and Gatineau Hospital) have been hard hit by overcrowding. It has been previously reported that Hull Hospital is one of the most overcrowded hospitals in Québec, and has recently experienced a 200 per cent occupancy rate. The combination of overcrowding and staff shortages have resulted in dozens of patients waiting on stretchers in the hallways, as well as surgeries having to be re-located due to shortages of nursing staff.
The unions representing the protesting workers, Syndicat des travailleuses et des travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais (STTSSSO-CSN), is calling for hospital management to increase staffing levels, and has challenged Hull MNA Maryse Gaudreault to work a week at the hospital to get a first-hand look at the crisis.
Nova Scotia teachers vote to take action
The members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NTSU) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of an illegal job action to oppose the recommendations of the controversial “Glaze report” — a report prepared for McNeil’s Liberal government by self-styled “international education advisor” Avis Glaze, which puts forward 22 recommendations that would fundamentally restructure the education system in the province.
The Glaze report recommends the removal of school principals and vice-principals from the union, the elimination of local school boards, and the creation of a college of teachers responsible for licensing and discipline of the profession. Or, as the NTSU puts it, the report aims to “divide and distract” by creating new layers of bureaucracy instead of addressing the real issues facing teachers and students.
“They made this decision knowing they could face a loss of pay and heavy fines,” said NTSU President Liette Doucet on the results of the vote. “They’re so concerned for their students and the future of education in this province they’re willing to accept hardship in hopes that it will demonstrate to the government that the only way forward is through meaningful consultation.”
Minimum wage hike not to blame for job losses
When Statistics Canada released its Labour Force Survey for January 2018, mainstream media outlets were quick to pin the drop in Ontario’s employment numbers on the minimum wage increase to $14 per hour, which went into effect on January 1. However, a new analysis from well known left-wing think tank Scotiabank shows that the minimum wage increase had nothing to do with it.
Economist Juan Manuel Herrera is quoted in an article for Huffpost noting that, of the 51,000 jobs lost in Ontario, “job losses were not concentrated in low-paying positions. The lowest-paying sector— food services and accommodation— actually saw an uptick in hiring of 2,200 positions. Meanwhile, the highest paying non-government sector — professional, scientific and technical services — saw the steepest drop in employment, down 2.1 per cent in a month.”
For a further breakdown of January’s Labour Force numbers, you can read Pam Frache and Alex Hunsberger’s article published last week by RankandFile.ca.
Pharamacare campaign re-boot
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) kicked off a new wave of town halls this week in Surrey and Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of their “Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone” campaign.
The campaign, which calls on the federal government to commit to the implementation of a national, publicly-administered universal prescription drug plan in every province and territory, was launched by the CLC on Labour Day in September and has thus far focused primarily on lobbying.
The strategy, according to CLC President Hassan Yussuff, is “to set the stage where the political parties are going to debate this publicly [leading up to the 2019 federal election].”
The CLC began its cross-Canada tour in November with stops in Edmonton, Regina, and Oshawa, and have numerous stops scheduled for March and April. Click here to see the full list of tour dates.