Arbitration system isn’t broken: SEIU Healthcare

Union responds to call from OHA president to reform system, saying ‘oversight of hospitals is broken’
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 05/10/2013

SEIU Healthcare has heard the call from Pat Campbell, president of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), that Ontario’s arbitration system is broken and needs to be fixed.

It just doesn’t agree.

“The arbitration system is not broken, oversight of hospitals is,” said Sharleen Stewart, president, SEIU Healthcare. “What we need is more transparency and accountability over money being spent on excessive administration and hospital executives' wages, benefits and performance packages when those funds could be better spent on frontline care."

SEIU said the award from the arbitrator called into question by Campbell was “fair and balanced” and included a modest increase for front-line staff in line with the cost of living.

The union charged that CEOs at hospitals have billed for perks such as membership in gentlemen’s clubs, life coaches and weight-loss programs.

It also pointed to public disclosures that showed one hospital CEO received an 81 per cent increase over the five years ending 2009; another took home $830,948 — a 24 per cent increase over three years; and another was paid $460,852, a 53 per cent increase over five years.

SEIU claims the largesse didn’t end despite calls by the Ontario government for a wage freeze. In 2010, one hospital CEO saw his compensation jump 18 per cent over two years and another received a 35 per cent increase.

"That the OHA has the audacity to lash out against modest investments in recruitment and retention of front-line staff shows just how out-of-touch hospital executives are," said Stewart. “If Ms. Campbell was really concerned about patient care she would encourage her CEOs to return the money they pocketed when thousands of Ontarians, including health-care workers, were being laid off during the most recent recession.”

The union called on the provincial government to “get serious” about making CEOs accountable and for the OHA to “end its combative and confrontational stance towards the people who keep hospitals working.”

SEIU Healthcare represents more than 50,000 health-care and community services workers across Ontario.

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