Home Workplace News Nurses, health-care professionals at Ontario nursing homes awarded 11.5% wage hike by arbitrator

Nurses, health-care professionals at Ontario nursing homes awarded 11.5% wage hike by arbitrator

by HR Law Canada

Registered nurses (RNs) and health-care professionals working in Ontario’s nursing homes are set to receive an 11.5% salary increase over the next two years.

This arbitration decision, announced by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), marks the most substantial wage increase for these professionals in over three decades, it said in a press release.

The new collective agreement stipulates that nurses will receive an 8.5% salary increase in 2024, followed by a 3% increase in 2025. This adjustment equates to an hourly wage rise of $5.82.

Erin Ariss, RN, and Provincial President of the ONA, commented on the arbitration decision, stating, “This decision is a first step towards recognizing the highly skilled work performed by nurses and health-care professionals in this sector. For too long, the public has subsidized private, for-profit nursing homes to the detriment of residents and staff. While the decision does not eliminate the wage gap between public- and private-sector nurses, it significantly reduces the disparity between them and brings us closer to equal wages.”

No right to strike

The decision follows an extensive bargaining process, culminating in an arbitration hearing before Arbitrator Sheri Price on May 1 and 2, 2024. Ontario’s long-term care nurses, legally barred from striking, must resolve contract disputes through arbitration.

The ONA pursued significant wage increases in response to what it describes as systemic deficiencies in the sector, alongside calls for increased staffing to meet resident needs.

“This decision partially addresses the concerns presented by ONA,” Ariss stated. “During the pandemic, many of us had to endure the indignity of wage suppression, the lack of personal protective equipment, short staffing, and outbreaks, seeing patients and staff unnecessarily endangered, but continued working through it all.”

Care over profit: union

Ariss emphasized the need for investment in patient, resident, and client care over profit. “Profit has no place in health care. Instead, we need to invest in patient, resident and client care. That’s why ONA members have campaigned and organized collective actions for months to inform their communities and build support. This new contract will not fix staffing shortages or sector neglect, especially with the Ford government pursuing a clear privatization agenda, but it is one step in the right direction.”

Ariss also expressed gratitude to the ONA Nursing Homes Provincial Negotiating Team and members across the province. “Together, we fought like nurses and health-care professionals. I was proud to work alongside our team throughout bargaining. I was even more proud to march with so many of our members for care, not profit. Now the fight continues, and I encourage ONA members in all sectors to get involved. The fight for better care is only beginning.”

The Ontario Nurses’ Association represents 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics, and industry.

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