The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says healthcare workers in Ontario are planning political protests throughout the summer, including a rally in Kenora.

CUPE says healthcare workers are ‘angered that their workplace rights are being trampled on’, and 22 regional rallies are planned across the province, which will begin on August 17.

“The PC governments recognized hospital workers as hero’s one minute, then stripped away their basic rights at work the next,” says President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Michael Hurley.

The protests are in response to Ontario’s Bill 195, the Reopening Ontario Act. Under the act, healthcare employees can have their shifts changed from days to nights, be reassigned to another job, be relocated to another community, can be laid off without notice, and have their parental leaves cancelled.

“The government is using the pandemic to gut the basic rights of this predominantly female workforce. We’re not the only citizens alarmed by the government’s legislation, civil rights groups and others are taking action to restore citizens’ rights,” Hurley added.

The Ministry of Long-Term Health reports that in Ontario, over 2,500 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19, and 8 workers have passed away from the virus.