Potential strike at Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation Personal Care Home due to Staff Wage Inequality

On Thursday, January 24th, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) Personal Care Home (PCH) support service workers will vote on the possibility of a strike. They currently make 14 per cent less than workers at other rural care homes around the province, even though they have the same training and job descriptions. Their demand will be wage parity with similar personal care homes.

“The reality is that all First Nations PCHs are underfunded, even though we provide the same care and services as other rural care homes that are 100 per cent funded by the province,” says Regitha Rajesh, chief executive officer of the NCN PCH. “If we received the same funding, we wouldn’t have wage disparity. Our employees are feeling disrespected and frustrated. They need to strike every time just to be treated equally. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to our Elders.”

About 75 per cent of NCN PCH employees are members of Manitoba Government and General Employee’s Union (MGEU), and they’ve been working without a collective agreement since last March. NCN PCH needs $389,722 in funding to achieve wage parity for its workers. NCN has approached the federal government (which funds 17 beds), and the provincial government (which funds the other 7 of its total 24 beds), to increase funding. But so far, no commitments have been made.

“In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled, under Jordan’s Principle, that Canada cannot discriminate against Indigenous children on the basis of jurisdiction or geography. Now, another vulnerable group of people, our Elders, are being denied equitable care,” says Chief Marcel Moody.

This is not the first time MGEU staff have gone on strike. At the end of 2016, these support workers were on strike for almost three weeks, for the same reason. They received a 10% wage increase at that time, which went about halfway to addressing the inequity in pay.