Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli’s constituency office was the sight of a protest by workers who are speaking out against the Ontario government’s Bill 195.
The bill was passed in July and gives the government some of the exceptional powers that it had during the State of Emergency without having it officially declared.
Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions of CUPE, has trouble believing that the bill’s intent is to keep Ontarians safe during the pandemic.
“What we’re saying is that on their behalf is if the COVID crisis has reached the point where it’s diminished, this is surely the time not to extend the withdrawal of their basic workplace rights for a three year period, but in fact, to return them,” Hurley said at the protest.
Hurley says that Bill 195 takes away the things that unions have provided for its workers.
“We have contracts that we have negotiated – in the case with the North Bay hospital, Sturgeon Falls, Mattawa – probably the last 70 or 80 years. Bill 195 and the regulation that preceded it, have the effect of taking away rights with respect to scheduling, parental leave vacations, layoffs, contracting out, who does the work – all these rights have been suspended for a period that could be as long as three years,” explained Hurley.
At the time of the bill’s passing, Premier Ford justified his decision.
“This is fully transparent, I’m out here every day. This is a critical piece of legislation to protect the people of Ontario…making sure long-term care workers stay at one place for the duration of the pandemic, and make sure that electricity rates remain low for Ontarians. That is what people care about,” the Premier said in July.
Hurley believes that the bill has shown hypocrisy on the part of the government.
“It makes a lie of a government calling these women heroes because they’re not treating them as heroes. You don’t treat heroes this way. At least leave them in the same position as before – you don’t take things away from them,” he said.
Friday’s protest was attended by over 50 people, calling for Vic Fedeli to address the issue at Queen’s Park.