Bill 124 holds the nursing profession and Ontario teachers to a 1 per cent wage increase during the highest inflation we’ve ever seen. Social service organizations are also being held hostage by this public sector wage restraint. This bill adversely affects workers who provide front line services to the most marginalized populations.
The opioid crisis has continued to rage and now our shelter workers are not only called upon to work in overcapacity shelters, but are also responding to residents experiencing severe mental health crises and overdoses.
All social services are experiencing staffing shortages that are unprecedented. It is impossible for social services to recover or compete with private sector funding when we are constrained from providing equitable wage increases.
Social services have been underfunded for years and Bill 124 puts a further strain on our ability to recruit and retain staff. The wages paid to front line workers are grossly inadequate given the essential and demanding work they do. We are losing our shelter workers, in an exodus, just as we are losing our health care workers and teachers. This is another crisis in the making.
We owe these workers recognition and thanks, and certainly, we need to speak up and support all of our essential workers.