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Media Advisory: Groups Issue a "Wake Up Call" for Premier Kathleen Wynne to Resolve Home Care Emergency Affecting 4,500 Care Workers and More Than 45,000 Home Care Patients

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 12/20/13 -- Attention: Assignment Desk

When & Where: Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. at the Hospital Emergency sign, NW corner of Gerrard St. & Elizabeth St., Toronto.

What: Social justice, immigrant workers', poverty, and health care groups are calling the home care situation in Ontario an "emergency" warranting the Premier's intervention. The 4,500 care workers, many of whom are forced to live at or below the poverty level because of the poor conditions in home care, have been on strike since December 11, impacting at least 45,000 home care patients and their families. The group is calling on Premier Wynne to resolve the strike and improve conditions in home care.

Visual/Audio: The group will gather in front of the hospital emergency sign where there are ambulances entering and leaving frequently. They will have hundreds of bells along with carol singers to raise a "wake up call" for Premier Kathleen Wynne and bring attention to the home care emergency.

Who: Carolyn Egan, Toronto Health Coalition, Chairperson; Deena Ladd, Workers' Action Centre, Coordinator; Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition, Executive Director; Winnie Ng, Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy Studies, Ryerson University.

Background: Home care workers are subjected to the worst working conditions in the health care field. Many work for just above minimum wage and are compensated for only about a third of their travel time, working many more hours than they are actually paid. The top wage, which takes years to achieve, is $15 per hour. As a result, turnover is very high, disrupting continuity of care for patients. Workers often live in poverty, and are under threat of losing their jobs. Home care is rife with duplicate administrations in hundreds of home care companies, poor oversight, inequitable access to care, poor treatment of the workforce and a host of other problems. The Ontario Health Coalition, which does not normally involve itself in strikes, has long been advocating a stable, equitable, accessible public non-profit home care system to replace the myriad of fragmented subcontracted home care contracts in Ontario, and sees this strike as a symptom of the serious problems in home care. Social justice groups, minimum wage and poverty advocates, immigrant and equity organizations and health care groups are sympathetic to the poor conditions of the workers and concerned about the impact on thousands of home care patients and their families. They are joining the call of the home care workers' union SEIU and home care clients and their families to ask the provincial government to intervene to improve conditions and to take action to reform home care in the public interest.

Quotes: "This is an unprecedented province-wide home care strike impacting 50,000 families including both care workers and patients just as Christmas is coming. It is time for the government, which has been cutting costs by offloading hospital patients into home care, to step in and resolve the emergency caused by long-standing poor conditions in this sector."

Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition.

"Homecare workers provide important healthcare to the elderly and very sick. They might work full time but many times only get paid for part time hours which means many are struggling to survive below the poverty line. We need decent jobs in this province - not low wage, precarious jobs that keep workers in poverty."

Deena Ladd, Workers' Action Centre.

Contacts:
Carolyn Egan
416-806-7985

Deena Ladd
416-836-2379

Natalie Mehra
416-230-6402

Winnie Ng
647-291-3511

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