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Kingsmere Retirement workers rally for wage increase

October 19, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Over 40 people who work at Kingsmere Retirement Living in Alliston held a rally on the street in front of the Adjala-Tecumseth Townline residence on Monday, Oct. 16, to bring awareness to what they say are unfair wages for the work they do.

“All frontline workers at Kingsmere Retirement Living deserve fair wages, not a select few,” said Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO first vice-president/treasurer. “These workers provide exceptional care to residents despite the ongoing disrespect and low wages offered by this employer. We’re in a cost-of-living crisis, and workers are rightfully demanding better. With the full support of our union, the members of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 332 will continue to fight – and win it.”

Earlier this month, a petition signed by every Local 332 worker was delivered to Sienna Senior Living by OPSEA/EFOPO regional vice president Sara Labelle and Local 332 unit steward Kirstie Byrne.

Sienna Senior Living is the owner/operator of Kingsmere Retirement Living. The petition demanded a $3 per hour wage increase for every Local 332 member at Kingsmere.

One of the points of contention is a $3 raise given to a single dietary worker earlier this year without consulting the union and refusing to do the same for other staff.

“Every member in our local is angry that management is picking and choosing who to pay fairly,” said Ms. Byrne. “We want everyone to be paid fairly, especially during this cost-of-living crisis.”

Workers gathered in front of the Retirement Residence with banners and flags.

“This is a rally to raise awareness about the fact that the folks here make minimum wage, and some just a bit more than minimum wage,” said Sara Labelle during the rally. “Sienna, as an employer has given one work a $3 per hour increase because they cannot recruit and retain, but they aren’t willing to give it to anyone else. We’re in bargaining currently, and we do have people making minimum wage.”

Sienna operates retirement communities in both Ontario and British Columbia.

“They are in bargaining right now and they are at the Labour Board because we’ve filed an ‘unfair labour practice’ complaint because of this,” Ms. Labelle said. “We’re drawing attention to the issue and we’re saying ‘bargain and give a wage increase to everybody and a cost of living increase.’ During the pandemic we were paid the lowest in health care and saw the most death and instruction, while they saw record profits. They should put it back into the staff that provide care. People need a living wage. This is predominantly caring work – it’s always been undervalued for the work that is provided. The working conditions for the workers are the living conditions for the residents here. We have PSW’s, dietary staff, and registered practical nurses all providing care in this home. This rally draws awareness to what’s happening.”

The rally took place at 10 a.m. and received much attention from passing motorists.

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