Letter to the Premier - Dennel Pickering, CCA (April, 2020)
Dear Mr Premier,
I'm one of all the others you reference, after you list doctors and nurses specifically. I work front line in healthcare, as a continuing care assistant. I'm in a less controlled environment than long term care; I work in homecare. The unease of going to work, not sure if you're a carrier about to infect your clients has been stressful, at best. While I struggle to breathe through masks now, I'm so very grateful that our union has pushed for masks and gowns (PPE) and the employer has finally provided them.
I've been more interested in our bargaining process than watching the president of the United States, which, like a bad horror movie, you just can't not watch. I saw you offer us a wage reduction in the sweetest way. You told us that we get to pick what we want to give up to balance your books. Kind of like asking which finger you wanted us to chop off. We were adamant that we didn't want to give back anything that we bargained for over decades of contracts, but rather, we wanted a wage increase that would allow us to pay our bills. I'm sure you know the cost of living keeps increasing, and that's why you tied MLA wage increases to cost of living increases.
I'm used to not being the favorite child. So, I wasn't expecting you to all of a sudden give us giant wage increases that you gave the RNs just as soon as you got into power. Don't get me wrong, they work hard and deserved the wage increases. But, Mr Premier, you've acknowledged that we work hard too. So I ask you why it's been 4 years without a raise? And please don't answer with a response like, the other unions got their raise but you voted against it. You bet I did. 0 0 1 2 2 is barely a raise, especially when you think about our low wages to begin with. If you offered me 2 percent of your wage, I'd gladly take it. 2 percent of my wage after 20 years in the job is 46.34 cents.
I don't even want us to get danger pay/hazard pay. That implies you are paying for us to work unsafely and risk lives. I want doctors and nurses and "all the others in healthcare" to work safely to provide the best possible care for our seniors and our most vulnerable in society. I want to provide skilled care safely for them and safely for us. I also want to be paid reasonable wages permanently. I want to be valued by my government, the one that says we are doing a great job in this global pandemic to come to work every day and walk into the unknown.
Why, Mr Premier, do you keep telling us you value us but won't put money where your mouth is?
We are scared. Every damned day. But we show up. We provide care. We comfort those around us that are scared. We are here asking you to value us the way our patients, residents, and clients and their families do.