Health care unions call for worker wage bump, better access to PPE in new campaign

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TORONTO — Three major health care worker unions are launching a campaign to press the Ontario government for increased wages and better access to personal protective equipment.

The unions say the campaign will launch on Monday in workplaces across the province ahead of the Ontario budget, which is expected to be delivered later this month.

They say they are asking the government to raise the wages of personal support workers in all health care settings to $25 an hour as the pandemic continues.

They also say the province has a stockpile of 12.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, but say staff still struggle to access what they need in some long-term care homes.

The unions are calling on the province to ensure employers distribute the protective gear to staff as needed.

The call for action is being led by members of Unifor, Service Employees International Union - Healthcare, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 15 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region.

Sunday's data is based on 46,586 completed tests.

The province also reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far.

There have been 308,296 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 290,840 classified as resolved and 7,067 that have resulted in death.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press