Holy Family care home misses CUPE workers’ retroactive pay deadline

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Retroactive wage increases were expected to be fully paid out to roughly 18,000 health-care support workers in Manitoba by the beginning of this week, but some personal-care home staff are still waiting.

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Retroactive wage increases were expected to be fully paid out to roughly 18,000 health-care support workers in Manitoba by the beginning of this week, but some personal-care home staff are still waiting.

Workers at Holy Family Home have been told they’ll receive their final retroactive lump-sum payments Friday, past the Jan. 23 deadline by which employers had to implement back-pay increases set out under a new union contract. The seven-year deal for members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees was ratified in September and includes a 9.6 per cent pay bump dating back to 2017. Employers had 120 days to enact the new deal.

Holy Family Home management advised staff the Aberdeen Avenue facility wouldn’t be able to make the full retroactive payments to eligible employees earlier this week, according to memos obtained by the Free Press. Staff received a partial advance payment before Christmas. Initially, management proposed delaying payment of the remaining retroactive pay owed until mid-February and wanted to tide staff over with “partial lump sum payments” of between $250 to $1,000 each depending on casual, part-time or full-time status. But it reversed course and promised the full remaining payments by the end of this week, according to a second memo that retracted the first.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Holy Family Home management advised staff the Aberdeen Avenue facility wouldn’t be able to make the full retroactive payments to eligible employees earlier this week, according to memos obtained by the Free Press.

“I am truly sorry that you won’t be receiving your Retro pay by Monday, January 23rd, 2023 like you were expecting. Please know this decision was not made lightly. I know this is not the news you were expecting, or wanting to hear today. We are trying our best to ensure this very detailed process is completed accurately and that you are receiving everything you are entitled to. Please know you are all very important to all of us at Holy Family Home and we do hope that you understand,” interim CEO Angela Peeler wrote in the updated memo to 350 employees, dated last Friday.

In an emailed statement to the Free Press, Peeler didn’t directly address a question about why the home wasn’t able to make the payments within the required 120 days.

“The retroactive adjustments will be fully implemented by the end of this week. It is important to ensure that these adjustments are calculated correctly. All staff have been made aware of the implementation timeline,” she wrote.

A Holy Family employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said staff were upset about the late payments after having worked through a pandemic and putting in hours for the past five years without a raise.

“It should have been done prior… they knew what they were coming into,” the employee said. “Everybody was upset because everybody’s been wanting this money for so, so long. We’ve been going through this pandemic, and we’re still going through a pandemic right now.

“We’re the backbone for this facility right now, so we wanted our money.”

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it is not aware of personal-care homes seeking loans or public funding to meet their retroactive pay obligations to employees under the new contract.

“The WRHA is not aware of any personal care homes having to take out loans to make retroactive payments. Facilities that required funding from the WRHA as part of existing agreements received that funding in time to make payments within 120 days following ratification of the collective agreement,” a spokesperson said.

CUPE Local 204 President Debbie Boissonneault said the majority of eligible employees are owed $8,000 to $10,000 each, dating back to 2017. Delays in the retroactive payments don’t help recruitment and retention of health-support workers in Manitoba, she said.

“This is why there’s a lack of people wanting to stay in health care, because of the lack of feeling like someone actually cares about you,” she said.

katie.may@winnipegfreepress.com

Katie May

Katie May
Reporter

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.

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