QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario NDP MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, Judith Monteith-Farrell, criticized Doug Ford Tuesday in the legislature for failing to step in to help patients and workers on strike at the Port Arthur Health Centre in Thunder Bay. The workers, all of whom are women, have been on strike and without pay for almost four months, putting access to essential health services in the community in jeopardy.
“Every day that the employer refuses to bargain, the people of Thunder Bay who rely on this clinic, are struggling to get appointments, are struggling to get their medical information,” Monteith-Farrell said. “They are forced into overcrowded clinics. They are forced to go to the overcrowded emergency rooms at our already beleaguered hospital, and use the ambulatory care at our hospital as well.”
Despite working at a medical clinic, the women – many of whom have been at Port Arthur for over three decades – still don’t have access to basic health benefits and make below $15 an hour. Meanwhile, their employer has refused to come to the table and refused multiple requests for mediation from the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The workers continue to be put on recurring casual contracts and denied access to WSIB or basic benefits.
“There are women at the Port Arthur Health Clinic who have devoted their working lives to providing care to the families of Thunder Bay,” Monteith-Farrell said. “People are shocked to learn that they’re making $14.71 an hour. Even though they work at a medical clinic, the employer has refused to pay them basic health benefits or WSIB. The employer has refused to come to the table. They have refused the help of the Ministry of Labour.”
Monteith-Farrell grilled Ford during question period on his refusal to help.
“What will the government will do to help these front-line workers and ensure that Thunder Bay can rely on the quality healthcare it needs?” Monteith-Farrell asked.