CUPE calls on government to extend benefits to front-line workers

Barb DeRoche, the president of Kingston’s CUPE local 1974, holds up a sign reading ‘Protect and Pay Equally’ while protesting in front of Kingston General Hospital on Thursday, May 13, 2020. Photo by Jemma Dooreleyers.

Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1974 protested outside of Kingston General Hospital (KGH) at various points of the day on Thursday, May 14, 2020. 

The protest was to make a statement to the Ontario government that every worker in the hospital is a front line worker. 

This came following an announcement made by the Ontario government that explained what the government is doing to protect front-line workers and thank them for their services. The announcement also defined who a front-line worker is, dividing the hospital staff. 

For example, auxiliary staff such as cooks, porters, laundry facility workers and custodian staff receive an extra $4 per hour as well as $250 a month for four months if the worker works 100 hours or more for the month. But the person who delivers the food to the patient or the administrative staff who are the first people the patient comes into contact with are not eligible for this support. 

“There is so much more to the health care system and hospital than doctors and nurses,” said Barb DeRoche, the president of Kingston’s CUPE chapter. “Everyone who works at the hospital plays a vital role at the hospital.” 

The protest was also calling on the government to not slow down the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) because the workers in these environments do not feel that they are adequately protected from the COVID-19 virus.

“Nurses and environmental service workers should not have to beg to use PPE,” DeRoche said. “Everyone wants to return to their families and know that they are safe.”

The CUPE chapters from across Ontario including Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Mississauga, Guelph, Sudbury, Oshawa, Kingston, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, Lindsay, Milton and others also protested on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

Jemma Dooreleyers is a Kingstonian who is about to enter her fourth year at Ryerson School of Journalism. She has been a contributor for the Kingstonist in the past and is excited to be a full-time intern. She has written for a number of student publications such as the Ryersonian, Kaleidoscope, the Eyeopener, Her Campus and the White Wall Review. This year, she was the Arts Editor for Ryerson Folio, a general interest magazine. She is currently back in Kingston for the time being, social distancing with her mom, a dog, and two cats.

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