A union representing Ontario health care workers says it’s planning a series of escalating political and legal actions, including brief work interruptions, in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.
The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, says it’s pushing back against the province’s emergency order because it suspends their collective bargaining agreement.
Union president Michael Hurley says his members are going to start by sending their MPPs e-mails this week, explaining how the order damages their workplace rights.
The union says it’s also planning legal challenges and will hold rallies outside of its workplaces on Friday.
Members of the union will vote on Monday night to see if it will be necessary to have a brief work stoppage the next day.
Mr. Hurley says that while the emergency orders were acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health care workers and the emergency is over in most of the province.
A spokeswoman for the union confirmed on Monday that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of political action on the weekend.
Mr. Hurley says that his members are “angry” and will be holding a series of news conferences in Hamilton, Sudbury, Ottawa and Toronto this week to bring attention to the issues at the community level.
The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.
Mr. Hurley said the suspended agreement means hospital staff may have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied.
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.