OPSEU/SEFPO applauds verdict in George Floyd murder

OPSEU/SEFPO applauds the recent guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. We acknowledge that the verdict was newsworthy because it disrupts a continuous pattern of white supremacy persistent in North American criminal justice systems. We agree with U.S. President Joe Biden that “we cannot stop there.” It is way past time that white leaders of Canadian institutions remove our collective knees off the necks of Black, Indigenous and racialized groups.

Since the murder of George Floyd, OPSEU/SEFPO stepped up its efforts to dismantle anti-Black racism beginning with a tele-town hall in July of 2020. We listened to the lived experiences of Black members and staff and escalated our efforts to increase the representation of Black and racialized staff at all levels of the organization. We need to put muscle behind our words. Intentional and bold steps are needed to uproot anti-Black racism from all institutions.

To this end, OPSEU/SEFPO launched a long-term Employment Equity program led by a multi-racial team with many years of anti-racism experience. The Employment Equity Team is facilitating mandatory dismantling anti-Black racism training for OPSEU/SEFPO senior leadership, staff and the Executive Board. As a concrete step forward, we made permanent a number of Black and racialized staff at various levels of the organization to increase representation and remove existing disparities between permanent and temporary positions. These proactive steps were met with resistance from those who prefer to hold on to the status quo and maintain their privilege and power. However, OPSEU/SEFPO remains committed to uprooting white supremacy despite any resistance. This is simply the right thing to do and it is long overdue.

Many of us are haunted by the final words of George Floyd, “I can’t breathe.” OPSEU/SEFPO is proud to step up as a leader among labour unions and stand up to all those resistant to change. We will continue to do this as a Union and as an employer until all members and staff can breathe freely.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass reminds us that “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.” We will not stop demanding until it is done!

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida

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OPSEU/SEFPO calling on Ford government to legislate paid sick days for all

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent the following letter to Premier Doug Ford today.   April 19, 2021   Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario  Room 281  Legislative Building, Queen’s Park  Toronto, ON M7A 1A1   

Re OPSEU/SEFPO calling on Ford government to legislate paid sick days for all  

Dear Premier Ford,   This is our third message to your office in as many days. Desperate times require extraordinary measures. If there is a time when we must communicate effectively as a province, and act swiftly as a society, it is now.  

At OPSEU/SEFPO, we’ve put politics aside in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration. We understand that working together is the only way we can defeat this crisis and emerge triumphant on the other side. Name-calling and public shaming won’t resolve our current crisis. And together, we’ve made progress.  

We asked your government to walk back on arbitrary police powers, and you have. We spoke out against the closure of playgrounds, and you listened. We’ve raised the alarm about Ontario’s capacity crisis, and the federal Liberals have pledged to send health care workers to help. We’ve pushed to get more needles in arms, and you lowered the age of eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to 40.  

All of this marks significant progress. However, we’ve now reached a crucial moment in the fight against this pandemic.  

The path to recovery requires smart decisions and legislating paid sick days is a smart decision. Paid sick days save lives. The experts all agree, including Toronto’s chief medical officer of health, that paid sick leave is an essential protection for workers on the front lines of the pandemic – especially those in low-wage and precarious positions with little to no job security.  

Everyone needs paid sick days. They keep workers, and our communities, safer. And what’s more, the vast majority of Ontarians support legislated paid sick days for all. What we need now, is political leadership. You’ve said no in the past, but I am sure you can see that the state of the province today requires a different response.  

As the case numbers continue to rise, firmer action is needed. Indecision won’t save lives – vaccines and paid sick days will. The public, and Ontario’s public sector workers, are watching closely. Unless repealed, Bill 124’s wage cap would mean that public sector workers can’t even negotiate more sick days, without taking a further cut to their wages. These are the same front line workers you’ve repeatedly held up as heroes throughout the pandemic.  

Well Premier, heroes deserve respect and dignity. At the very minimum, they need paid sick days. That does not just go for unionized workers, non-unionized workers need paid sick days too. That’s the best way they can protect themselves while earning a living, and protect the public as well. Last month, more than 600 workers at Amazon in Brampton got COVID-19, but very few cases were reported. How much safer would we all be, Amazon workers, their families, and the public, if these workers had been allowed to take paid sick days? We can’t force workers to decide between making a living and living at all.  

Premier, you know what the right decision is here. At least for the duration of the pandemic, legislate paid sick days and protect this province, its workers, and their families. It’s your chance to take leadership across the country and light the way for all the provinces and territories to follow. Legislate paid sick days now. Cast ideology aside and pivot as needed. Only then are we in it all together, but more importantly, we will be out of all this together, faster.  

Sincerely,   

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU/SEFPO

C.
Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health
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Ontario needs a shot in the arm

OPSEU/SEFPO has launched an ad campaign to support Ontario’s vaccine rollout and encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s undeniable that the COVID pandemic has hurt us all,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “It has taken a toll on our economy, on our health, on our well-being, and even on our very lives. “We’re calling on all OPSEU/SEFPO members – and all Ontarians – to get their shot as soon as possible,” said Thomas. “Because the way out of this is together.”

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THOMAS: Message to the OHA — recovery will take action, not just talk

The following Op Ed by OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was published today in the Toronto Sun.

The third wave of COVID-19 has arrived and many folks are scratching their heads wondering how Ontario’s entire health-care system — and economy — can come to a crippling halt with between 400 and 600 COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

It’s unbelievable and it’s certainly unsustainable; With a population of 15 million people, we should have much more hospital capacity. The consequences of inaction are fatal.

Which begs the question: Where has the talking head of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) been, and has the OHA fulfilled its mandate to serve Ontario’s hospitals to build a better health-care system?

Let’s just say, our current hospital capacity crisis didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a disaster in the making for 30 years. “Crisis” isn’t just a COVID-19 buzzword — it’s a daily reality for thousands of front-line hospital workers and the patients they support.

At OPSEU/SEFPO, we’ve sounded the alarm. And not just this year, but for the past 30 years since the slash-and-burn “Common Sense Revolution” of the 1990s when the pillaging of our health-care system started.

OHA president and CEO Anthony Dale was around back then too, serving as an aide to Premier Mike Harris — the King of Cuts — and his Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Elizabeth Witmer.

Their government’s deep cuts and costly restructuring gutted Ontario’s health-care system and charted the course for austerity — lasting 30 years and leading to the crisis we’re in today.

Harris’s cocktail of cuts were a recipe for disaster. We’ve known it was coming. How can a hospital deal with a pandemic surge when it hasn’t got the resources — or staffing — to handle the seasonal flu?

We’ve been in dire straits for some time, and it doesn’t take a doctor to know why.

Nowadays, Dale is warning that Ontario’s critical care system is about to reach its “saturation point.” That’s the point at which there’s no more capacity — zero. And he’s right. We’re close to system-wide collapse. He’s right about a few other things too.

Ontario’s hospitals can’t function at peak capacity in the long-term. We need more standby capacity, or put plainly, more buffer room.

We need to get shots into people’s arms and to improve vaccine confidence among the general public. We need paid sick days for essential workers and we all need to follow public health measures to help curb the impact of this third — and hopefully final — wave.

And of course, we absolutely need to invest in staffing and job training to address staff shortages in critical care and every other health service, which are all at a crisis level.

We agree completely. We’ve been saying it for 30 years, while we’ve been on the front lines of the fight to protect and improve our public health-care system – on the ground and in the halls of power at Queen’s Park.

But recently, when our union called on the OHA to take action and support the vaccine rollout in hospitals by removing barriers for front line staff — by directing hospitals to give workers time to get vaccinated — all we heard back were crickets.

Actions speak louder than words, which raises the question: What has the OHA actually done?

The OHA has been AWOL — absent without leadership. That needs to change. Yes, there have been enough mistakes to go around and nobody has done a perfect job.

It’s time we take a different approach — one that’s consultative and constructive. It’s time for the OHA to sit down with the unions so we can address the capacity crisis head on, together.

There’s been plenty of talk about rebuilding our health-care system. It’s time to get to work. And supporting front-line essential workers will be the foundation of our province’s recovery.

Then. Now. Always.

  • Warren (Smokey) Thomas is president of OPSEU/SEFPO
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Region 5 New Activist /New Steward Class: Application Package – Deadline April 16, 2021

The Region 5 Education Committee is pleased to offer this virtual
educational opportunity to our Region 5 members. We would like to
invite all members of Region 5 to participate in our upcoming zoom
classes on:

NEW ACTIVIST / NEW STEWARD ORIENTATION

There are two session offerings.

DATES:

Option #1 will run two consecutive 3 hour evenings Tuesday, June 8,
2021 and Wednesday June 9, 2021 6:00 pm – 9:15 pm

Option #2 will run one day Saturday June 12, 2021 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Registration Deadline: Friday, April 16, 2021 4:30 pm at R5Educationals@opseu.org.

Virtual Meetings: Participation instructions will be provided to all
upon confirmation of acceptance.

Please find attached:

Call-Out Package: New Activist / New Steward Orientation

Human Rights Accommodation Form

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OPSEU/SEFPO’s Rainbow Alliance Arc-en-Ciel Queermunity Town Halls!

Attention all rainbow-identified members: OPSEU/SEFPO’s Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel (RAA) will be holding monthly Queermunity town halls via Zoom on the last Wednesday of each month!

Be sure to join them as they discuss queer issues, chat about upcoming events and host guest speakers!

Add your name to the Queermunity email list! Your welcome email will include the Zoom information.

Dates and times

April 28, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
May 26, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
June 30, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
July 28, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
August 25, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
September 29, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
October 27, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30pm
November 24, 2021 7:30pm – 8:30 pm

Cost: Free

If you have any questions or would like to be a guest speaker, please email pride@opseu.org Click here for a printable PDF of the poster

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Lawson coding for COVID-19 screening shifts

UPDATE: The information provided below was erroneous. Any hours work as a screener during your regular work hours would be coded as 01. Hours worked as screener outside of regular hours would be coded as CO19. Hours screened from 6 pm to 12 am are also additionally coded “evening bonus” and weekend hours are additionally coded as “weekend bonus”.

CAMH has informed OPSEU Local 500 leadership that all hours of COVID-19 screening should be coded in Lawson as CO19. Evening shifts (i.e., after 6 pm) should also be coded as “evening premium” and weekend shifts should also be coded as “weekend premium”.

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Virtual Healing Circles

CAMH has hired an outside facilitator to create a safe & brave space for staff to share experiences with anti-Black racism and horizontal violence at CAMH and beyond.

For Black staff only:
Tuesday July 28, 9:30 – 11:30 AM
Thursday July 30, 1:30-3:30 PM
Thursday August 6, 9:30-11:30 PM
Saturday August 8, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Sunday August 16, 3:00 -5:00 PM

All staff welcome:
Tuesday August 4, 1:30-3:30 PM
Tuesday August 11, 9:30-11:30 AM

Registration: https://bit.ly/CAMHHealingCircles
For more information contact Carol.Bennett@camh.ca
Registration is required due to attendance limits for each session to allow for effective facilitation.
Please note your participation is kept confidential.

 

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OPSEU Local 500 Statement on Pandemic Pay at CAMH

Dear Sisters, Brothers and Members of OPSEU Local 500:

The Executive of the Local would like to start by thanking all of you across CAMH for your unwavering support and hard work on behalf of our clients during this challenging Pandemic time. The Local, OPSEU’s Executive Board and Mental Health & Addiction Division stand in solidarity with all members across the division in admiration and respect for all the incredible work you have done in the face of the worst pandemic many of us have known in our lifetimes. You are all the professionals who are the true heroes of this pandemic.

The Local recognizes that today’s E-Leader update on the Pandemic Pay from CAMH will be greeted with shock, anger and dismay for many members due to the exclusions that were highlighted around our members who will not be receiving pandemic pay. The final decision for which hospital workers are to receive Pandemic Pay was made by the Premier Doug Ford and Government of Ontario, not by CAMH or any individual hospital or health care organization.

The Local Executive and OPSEU as a whole are angered by the exclusion of any members of our Bargaining Unit. Since the Premier of the province announced payment the Pandemic Pay back in April, OPSEU, the Mental Health Division to which the Local belongs and the Local have been advocating for the Premier, the Minister of Health, the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and our own MPPs for all OPSEU members who have been client facing to receive Pandemic Pay.

I have been meeting with the employer almost daily since the state of emergency was declared back in March and have advocated for all of our members who have been client facing to receive Pandemic Pay for all hours worked. I have also reached out to the MPP for the riding I live in and have had email and verbal communications with her, and will continue to do so. Her name is Suze Morrison and she represents the NDP.

Below are a couple of articles from the OPSEU website about the advocacy that the larger Union has undertaken on behalf of all OPSEU members across the province.

OPSEU succeeds in expanding pandemic pay
Dear OPSEU member and healthcare worker: we continue to fight for pandemic pay

CAMH has been supportive of all employees who have been working on site to receive Pandemic Pay, working with the other teaching hospitals, (a group which CAMH is a part of) as well as the Ontario Hospital Association as hospitals around the province are joining forces to continue to fight this arbitrary decision by the government.

I want to reassure all of you that neither I, the Local or OPSEU will not give up the fight for each and every health care worker to receive Pandemic Pay at CAMH and further afield as well.

The Local has received many emails in the last 24 hours asking what has and what is being done so that every member receives Pandemic Pay and what you all as individuals can do. I would encourage all of you to please take the time to reach out to your Local MPP to advocate for the rights of yourself and all your colleagues to receive the Pandemic Pay. Listed below is the link that indicates all local MPPs for the ridings in the GTA. In your emails, please copy the Premier – Doug Ford and the Minister of Health – Christine Elliott as well.

https://www.ola.org/en/members/current

I would further encourage all of you whether or not you are receiving Pandemic Pay to reach out to your MPs at the federal Level as well. All monies that the province has been receiving have come from the Federal Government. I would encourage you to email your MP as well and include the Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau, the Minister of Finance – Bill Morneau and the Minister of Health – Patty Hadju.

https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en/search?caucusId=all&province=ON&gender=all

In closing, I send you all my humblest and heartiest thanks for the work you have been doing and continue to do for our clients and each other for the last several months of this pandemic.

Thomas Andersson

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OPSEU Coalition of Racialized Workers: Virtual Pulse Check

During these unprecedented times, we see the world racing to find an answer to COVID-19. We’ve heard many advice on what we should do to protect ourselves and each other. And while there has been miss-steps and continued trial, we are all hopeful that we will turned the bend on this dreaded virus, and hope that we are doing everything in our power to prevent the predicted next wave.

And as we grieved the losses we faced due to COVID-19, we witnessed a most heinous crimes against another human being, caught on video. This horrific crime committed by officers who took an oath to serve and protect. The people we tell our children to turn to in times of need. How do we find comfort amidst all the turmoil?

The region 5 Coalition of Racialized Workers, would like to invite all OPSEU members to join us for a Zoom Pulse Check – Steps to healing. Join us on July 18, 2020 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm as we unpack.

Topic: Region 5 CoRW Meeting
Time: Saturday, July 18, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting” https://zoom.us/j/93819581866?pwd=WkQvSjhRd1VjQjh4UCsrUTU4cGpDZz09
Meeting ID: 938 1958 1866
Password: 347227

Download the flyer.

Agenda:
1. Check in
2. Healing for our communities: What we need to do to stay safe during COVID-19
3. Healing for Black people: Where do we start?

R5CoRW is offering care packages to members impacted by COVID-19. Contact R5CORW@gmail.com if you require assistance.

We are in it together and together we will win!

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