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Health-care workers to announce political action in response to emergency orders

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

HAMILTON — A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will be making the announcement at Hamilton General Hospital.

A spokeswoman for the union confirms that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of some form of political action over the weekend.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

Health-care workers, including nurses, say the orders suspend their collective bargaining agreement with the province.

Union president Michael Hurley says while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers.

Hurley says a suspended agreement means hospital staff may have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied.

He suggested last week that the union’s action could take many forms, including wearing stickers to work, organizing a rally or even an interruption of work.

“No one wants to turn their attention from providing patient care to having to defend some basic workplace rights,” said Hurley on Friday. “That’s the last thing anyone wants to do, so we’re hoping that the government reconsiders its position.”

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