Why Bill 124 hurts everybody—but especially mothers

Imagine working a job where your working conditions keep getting worse, but you’re prevented from getting a raise that would at least keep up with inflation. Your bills keep increasing, daycare rates are through the roof and spots are hard to come by, but your salary doesn’t rise to match it.

Now imagine that your coworkers are quitting en masse, and you’re left with more work than ever, on a salary that just doesn’t cut it for the work you’re doing, physically or emotionally.

How do you parent effectively when you’re burnt out and exhausted from being mistreated?

If that doesn’t sound right to you, then you need to stand up against Bill 124. This Ontario Bill caps public employees’ salaries at a maximum of 1% per year. Our healthcare practitioners are quitting in droves, leaving those remaining exhausted and demoralized.

“They have major staffing issues in ER and ICU because people left to make money,” says Ontario-based Registered Nurse Lori Lopes. “They redeploy you. So you go from your set schedule expecting to work twelve hour shifts in a unit you have never worked in… I was redeployed to ER twice. Last time was one of the reasons I quit.”

All hospitals are feeling it. One Greater Toronto Area hospital emergency room lost 50 Registered Nurses and the ICU saw a large decrease in staff as well. This led to more burnout for staff and longer wait times for patients, who are then treated by a nurse who may be brand new to the unit and unfamiliar with processes or procedures.

Unfortunately, these policies have also caused a sharp divide along gender lines, with moms being penalized the most. During COVID, it’s usually the women who are stuck at home caring for their children, and the hospitals didn’t pay nurses to isolate or stay home with sick children.

“It’s caused a big divide for female careers vs. male dominated,” says Lopes. “Imagine you have your schedule that revolves around daycare, and then the rug is ripped right out from under you. Who is supposed to take care of your kids? Everything was shut. Many nurses had to go to night [shifts] to homeschool their kids.”

It’s also caused problems along racial lines. “The units with the worse workloads outside of ER and ICU are heavily staffed by Sri Lankan, Indian, and Filipino nurses. I personally know two people who left Canada to go back home. The working conditions and COVID isolation…they just packed it in.”

We have to start paying moms for their work. That means a fair salary that increases with the cost of living—and it means ensuring that male-dominated professions don’t continue to climb while women-dominate fields remain stagnant and fall behind. We need the government to revoke Bill 124 NOW to give all public employees, and especially healthcare practitioners, the salaries they deserve.

After all, moms have bills to pay, too.

So, what can you do?

If you're in Ontario, contact the candidates running in your riding and ask them for their position on Bill 124 and press them to advocate to cancel it.

Allison Venditti

Career Coach, HR Expert, salary negotiation whisperer, pay transparency and equity advocate. Founder of My Parental Leave and Moms at Work, Canada's largest organization committed to helping women earn more money, land better jobs and build community. Allison was named The Globe and Mail Report on Business Top 50 Changemakers 2022, is a regular speaker and media expert with over 100 interviews in 2021.

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