Coalition for Seniors supports collective bargaining and decent wages for NB’s nursing home workers

Written by Cecile Cassista on March 15, 2019

Coalition for Seniors held a media conference on March 15, 2019 in support of nursing home workers in New Brunswick. Photo from Cecile Cassista.

On behalf of the Coalition for Seniors, I stand here today to speak against government action to interfere with the bargaining process by resorting to the courts. Collective bargaining belongs to the workers.

Our support goes out to the nursing home workers, the most vulnerable people of society and their families.

These career workers have been pushed to the wall. Their contract expired 28 months ago and have had no luck getting a contract with the previous government. It would appear the same results are happening with the Higgs government.

Our message needs to be clear they are skilled at what they do and must be respected. They are the ones that knows what is best for those living in nursing homes.

We see, once again another attacked on seniors and residents living in nursing homes. These career workers are a very important thread for the aging population.

They care about their work and are passionate for the most vulnerable people of society. It takes special skills to care for the frail and vulnerable. That is why they are in nursing homes. That is why these workers choose to part of the nursing home families.

There are 4,100 workers who are overworked and underpaid and deserve more. With more than 300 staff shortage, this places a strain and challenges to provide high quality care. They are expected to do more under these conditions. Let’s be mindful they are dealing with peoples lives.

Special kinds of people work in these facilities, licensed practical nurses, resident’s attendants, support service workers, dietary, laundry workers and clerical workers.

The struggle that nursing home workers are experiencing is not just their struggle; its our struggle, it will affect all of us in our life time, at some point in time.

It’s important they get our support for more hours of care and decent wages. The government provides funding to the Nursing Home Association.

The Coalition maintains it should be administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health.

The constant attack by government to not stand up for the aging population and many others is clearly not acceptable.

Premier Higgs said he would govern different, that is questionable. He is placing the well-being and safety of residents at risk. He is relying upon the courts to bail him out.

The wages and severity of working conditions for those employed in nursing homes has been a challenge and it continues daily to the point we are in a crisis.

The government choose to resort to the court system, rather than provide more resources, this can only be categorized as dictatorship and heavy handed.

Seniors and families are going through stressful times while they worry of what the next step will be to care for their love ones. We ask, what did seniors ever do too government to be treated this way

We have a huge crisis. It is an emotionally stressful, traumatic unsafe situation that is impacting the lives of the vulnerable people who cannot defend themselves.

On behalf of the Coaliton, I asked each and everyone here today to take the pledge and call your MLA, the Premier, stress that they need to address this serious problem. Collective bargaining does not belong in the courts, it belongs to the people.

Cecile Cassista is the executive director of the New Brunswick Coalition for Seniors Nursing Home Residents’ Rights. She delivered this speech at a press conference in Moncton on March 15, 2019.

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