BELLEVILLE – Community and home health-care workers in Belleville have exchanged their stethoscopes and medical charts for mittens, hats and picket signs.
Approximately 230 employees of the city’s Community Care Access Centre  went on strike early Friday morning. They joined the 3,500 employees across the province asking for an increase in their wages.
Marlene Stewart, a placement care co-ordinator at the centre, says her wages have been frozen for the last six years.
“I’m not discriminating against the police, but they got over an eight-per-cent increase. All we are asking for is 1.4 per cent. We’re not asking for a lot,” said Stewart.
Workers are not properly compensated for the amount of driving expected for the job, she added: “It’s nothing for me to put 1,000 kilometres a month on my car, and I get 50 cents a kilometre for gas.”
Placement care co-ordinators are responsible for setting up and monitoring home care for patients. This includes physiotherapy, palliative care and post-surgery treatment.
Bev Buchanan, also a placement care co-ordinator, said that the organization is top-heavy.
“There are a huge number of managers in our office. We are all very professional people. We know what we’re doing and we don’t need people micromanaging us in the process.”
Gary Buffett, the communications manager for the Community Care Access Centre, told QNet News he could not comment on the amount of management in the organization.
Buffett also said the strike has not yet had much of an impact.
“Anybody who is already on our service and getting care in the community or at a clinic – that care would be continued uninterrupted by our service provider. So really the only impact would be on new referrals.”
Back on the picket line, Stewart said that it’s not about the money – that respect is all the workers are asking for.
“Money doesn’t make up for all of those things, but I think that respect does. I think the fact that they can’t even give us that, that’s wrong.”