The cuts at Tim Hortons have begun!

The cuts at Tim Hortons have begun!

Last year the iconic Canadian company Tim Hortons was bought by Burger King. Many people were worried about what kind of consequences it would have for the company and its stakeholders. And it looks like our fears are coming to life.

Burger King, which is controlled by a Brazilian private equity firm named 3G Capital, has already begun laying off staff at Tim Hortons’ corporate head offices. The business-friendly newspaper the Financial Post said that “tensions are running high” at Tim Hortons. The CBC reported that 350 people have already been laid off, nearly 20% of their head office employees.

This news didn’t surprise too many people. The Financial Post wrote 3G Capital is known to be a “ruthless streamliner” who made big cuts at Burger King and H.J. Heinz after they bought these companies. They didn’t expect Tim Hortons to be any different.

Burger King claims buying Tim Horton’s will help expand the donut company’s operations in the US market. Tim Hortons has tried to penetrate the American market but its efforts have stalled many times. If the expansion efforts don’t work out as planned this time around, 3G Capital might be tempted to begin squeezing the Canadian company by selling off Tim Hortons’ manufacturing and distribution centres. That means even more Canadian jobs will be lost.

It’s hard to see how Canadians will benefit from this merger. No one is really sure if 3G Capital has Tim Hortons best interests at heart. It will do anything it can to make sure it’s profits are upheld – even if it means stripping the company of everything its worth.



ParaMed Revera Acquisition, the Story behind “The Story”!

Caregiver and client holding hands

This past week Extendicare announced they had entered into an agreement to acquire Revera Home Health, sending a shock wave through the home care sector. This positions ParaMed, the home care arm of Extendicare, to be the largest provider of home care services in the country.

While executives and shareholders celebrate, others decry the deal, suggesting it will have a negative impact on the quality of care. Although I would tend to agree, it surprises me that the hidden story of the decision by Revera in December to drastically cut the travel and mileage benefits for their non-union home care employees has largely been ignored!

At the time Revera characterized these cuts as a means to make themselves more competitive by mitigating some financial difficulties and aligning themselves with the rates provided by competitors. Looking at it retrospectively, however the correlation between the cuts and the sale seems irrefutable and leaves me with no choice but to conclude that the cuts were designed simply to make Revera more profitable at the expense of the workers so they could sell.

Yet again selfless home care workers find themselves the unwilling martyrs of corporate greed. What a shame.

This situation underscores the uncertainty and instability the system is creating for homecare workers and is a reminder that the only real stability comes from having a union. Right now hundreds of RNs, RPNs & PSWs from Revera Home Health are working with us to do exactly that and I encourage others to do the same no matter where you work!

At the end of the day unions are truly the last line of defence of our healthcare system which is increasingly vulnerable to the instability of these uncertain times. In my view the wellbeing of caregivers and clients will be forever intertwined. That is to say when the conditions of work are good so are the conditions of care and vice versa.

Whether unionized or not all healthcare workers are faced with a choice whether to stand idly and watch standards crumble or stand up to demand what the people who work and depend on our healthcare system deserve.

I choose the latter. What about you?


What is a Developmental Service Worker (DSW)?

January 21 was DSW Day. It’s a day SEIU Healthcare celebrates every year to acknowledge the important role DSWs play in our healthcare system.

What is a DSW, you may ask?

They are healthcare workers who care for people suffering from a mental disability. This covers a variety of different developmental and mental health issues. Many times these clients need a high level of supervision in their daily living.

Sometimes their clients suffer from several different disorders at the same time. For example, a client could be suffering from three different conditions: a developmental disability, Tourette syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. Their health and psychological needs require constant attention.

Many times their clients get frustrated and upset over circumstances they can’t control. They can be abusive to themselves and others. Many DSWs have an important soft skill that they use to talk to their clients, calm them down and uncover the root of their anger.

Not only do these professionals look after day-to-day items like cleaning, laundry and looking after their financial affairs, DSWs also take their clients out to the community. They cannot be cooped up in a home all day. They need to visit the mall, dine at a restaurant, and do some volunteer work. Some DSWs have even helped their clients find jobs in the community.

Over 4,000 SEIU Healthcare members work in the community care sector. Hats off to them. They look after those who cannot look after themselves.

Stories from the frontline: What Cathy told the Minister of Health

“At the end of the day, I want to be able to go home and know I’ve done everything I possibly can for the residents.”

That’s the first priority for Cathy Labrash and her coworkers who care for people at a long-term care home in Sudbury, and that’s what she told Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins at a meeting on Wednesday, January 21.

Cathy Labrash, Registered Practical Nurse from Capreol.
Cathy Labrash, Registered Practical Nurse from Capreol.

SEIU Healthcare members are committed to sharing our stories from the frontline to make sure patients are receiving the best care and healthcare workers are supported at the same time.

Ultimately, that means that we require more provincial funding to get more staff working shifts in long-term care homes, and to encourage them to stay in the sector.

Cathy met in person with Dr. Hoskins in Sudbury, where she works as a quality assurance coordinator and nurse with a facility home to 230 people.

She has lived in Capreol, her hometown with a population of 4,000, all her life and has been a registered practical nurse (RPN) since 1992. She did her preceptorship at a long-term care home straight out of school.

“I just love seniors, they’re great people,” says Cathy. “I ended up staying.”

She had just a few minutes of one-on-one time with Dr. Hoskins, and used this opportunity to drive home the number one challenge facing the long-term care sector: staffing.

Although she is an RPN, Cathy emphasized the heavy workloads of personal support workers (PSWs) in the homes.

PSWs take care of all activities of daily living (mobility, toileting, meals, etc.), and are each responsible for 10 or more residents at any given time. RPNs are normally responsible for around 38 residents, but when they are short-staffed, that number doubles.

“The workload is tremendous,” she says. “We take good care of the residents, but they need more of us out there. It is difficult to find the time to even talk with them.”

Cathy is thankful for the opportunity to sit down with the Minister and speak with him about delivering better healthcare to Sudbury families.

“He was receptive to what I was saying. He’s listening to the stories now, so hopefully this is a start to something better.”


Dreams for the Future

40 years my mother worked at the same place. For some people, 40 years in the same place is a prison sentence. She “did life” at Mount Sinai hospital and is now a free woman, able to roam liberated to any destination she pleases. Over the holidays she was away in Fort Lauderdale, cooking Jamaican oxtail and shopping in new grocery stores with my already retired father (5 years in an open relationship with employment after putting in 33 years at General Motors) and my main man Uncle Roy who lives there. 3 weeks they gallivanted the retired streets of Florida, having lunch buffets, outlet mall perusing, and of course naps. Hanging out, living it up the way they want, Lord knows they’ve earned it putting up with 3 boys.

She’s spent so much of her life giving to other people; being a frontline clerical worker in one of Toronto’s healthcare facilities takes its toll. During her professional life on the Mother and Baby Unit, she was at the call of chart hunting doctors, nurses calling from other floors, nervous new parents and beaming veteran grandmothers: all with their own set of requests and colliding timelines. My mother has earned her masters in multitasking in a medical environment.

Her last day at work was November 28th 2014, they had a big retirement party and many people came by to tell her how much she meant to them. I knew my mother was loved at her job, but the outpouring appreciation even caught my very judgemental and cynical father for a loop. She put in 40 years for her family, so that we could reap the benefits of having two incomes in a land filled with opportunity.

My mother is no different than other parents who made the decision at a young age to migrate to Canada from their home country of birth. Our healthcare industry is full of Canadians who packed up their worldly belongings, leaving behind not only family and loved ones but years of education and jobs of affluence, only to be stripped of their titles upon entry into Canada. In anticipation of the dreams of future generations, it’s a sacrifice far greater than most could mentally grasp.

It’s important to tell this story today, to emphasize that the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr is alive in the hearts of first generation Canadians with roots deep in the soil of foreign lands. From Pakistan to Sudan, Canadian culture is a patchwork of diversity.

Dr. King once said “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

With Black History Month approaching, we here at SEIU are having some great discussions about celebrating diversity, encouraging everyone to be inspired by people, regardless of the colour of their skin. Black history month isn’t just for black people; achievements in the black community are achievements for the global community. With the recent murders of Eric Garner and Mike Brown taking place south of the border, cases of equality and fairness have come in question. I firmly believe that we all must share the issues and problems of the world and offer global solutions that help create change that directly impact the community.