“In this day and age,” he said, “it’s hard to imagine a government-funded agency would think it could throw gift cards at staff, rather than meaningfully and fairly compensating them for the outstanding services and care they provide.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (07 July 2017) — In late June, the Ministry of Labour issued a “no board” report at the request of workers with New Path Youth and Family Services, triggering a 17-day countdown to a strike or lockout deadline of 12:01 a.m. on July 14.
Employer wants workers to settle for $700 Visa cards instead of pay increase
New Path is a government-funded mental health centre providing services for children, youth, and their families in Simcoe County. New Path employees are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) and include therapists, counsellors, and child and youth workers.
Bargaining team chair, Scott Stratton, said employees were not making unreasonable demands. “We’re looking for a modest increase that’ll help us keep up with the cost of living,” he said. “Over the last several years, we’ve been falling further and further behind. We care deeply about our clients — they’re like family to us. But we’ve also got families at home to provide for."
“After years of zeroes and below-cost-of-living increases, the provincial government has signalled that public sector workers deserve increases. New Path workers deserve a fair wage increase, too,” Stratton said, “but the employer insists we settle for $700 Visa cards."
“Meanwhile, CEO Glen Newby is making a six-figure salary,” he noted. “In fact, his paycheque has been fattened by 15 per cent in just the last 2 years. Glen Newby doesn’t accept gift cards, and neither should we — his hardworking employees."
OPSEU/NUPGE members don't want children's mental health service to be interrupted, but need a fair wage
Stratton also pointed out that New Path is the lead agency in Simcoe County for the Ontario government's Moving on Mental Health plan. “New Path should be a model. With the crisis in children’s mental health, it’s vital that kids and their families enjoy uninterrupted service.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President and a registered practical nurse working in psychiatric care for most of his life, agreed that the employer needs to step up to the plate.
“In this day and age,” he said, “it’s hard to imagine a government-funded agency would think it could throw gift cards at staff, rather than meaningfully and fairly compensating them for the outstanding services and care they provide.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE