Healthcare Stewards Conference 2024

Back to Blog

April 11, 2024

The annual Healthcare Stewards Conference was held April 11 – 12, 2024 in Toronto where nearly 100 UFCW Local 175 & 633 members from the HOPE Sector joined together for two days of learning and networking.

The agenda for the 20th annual conference included a land acknowledgement presented by Union representative Hodan Wais, the Local Union’s no harassment policy delivered by Union representative Ayesha Jabbar followed by a warm welcome from Local 175 President Kelly Tosato and Secretary-Treasurer Jim McLean. Local 175 Recorder and Registered Nurse Karen Vaughan was our MC for the conference.

Our first guest speaker was William Marcotte, Arbitrator who discussed the arbitration process with our stewards. Arbitrator Marcotte talked about how an arbitration is set up, what is proper evidence and how they decide the facts from evidence. The role of an arbitrator, the pros and cons of taking a grievance to arbitration the decision-making process and more.

Next, we heard from Sherry Simo,Occupational Health & Safety Inspector speaking about Workplace Harassment & Violence Policies. Sherry explained the various roles of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, and understanding the law.

We discussed violence in the workplace and the differences between an Act and Regulations along with the roles and responsibilities of the workplace parties.  

Sherri informed the stewards on how to report to other parties besides the employer, how incidents and complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with, how information will be kept confidential and how results will be shared.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Legal Department Director Jane Mulkewich gave a presentation on Bill 124, the impact on our members and the legal challenge led by UFCW and a coalition of Unions.

The Unions prepared a charter challenge under freedom of expression, freedom of association and equality and were successful with the challenge on freedom of association. On November 22, 2023, Bill 124 was found unconstitutional because it violates our freedom of association.

The Ford government then had one month to appeal, which they did and that appeal decision came down February 12, 2024 where it was decided that the governments’ appeal was not successful and they repealed the law. This decision was not a guarantee of an outcome but a right to bargain.

The afternoon of day one included a workshop from BEST on Workplace Violence & Harassment. We discussed, what is harassment including definitions and protected grounds with real life examples, and also what to do when in that situation. We learned what to do and the responsibilities when harassed. We talked about prevention, the Ontario Human Rights Code and had a conversation about work refusals.

Day 2 of training began with guest speaker Jorge Lasso-Investigator and Trainer who spoke about workplace investigations. Jorge explained what a workplace harassment investigation is and why they are conducted, the duties of employer and the legal process.

We also learned the difference between harassment under the Human Rights Code versus the Act and about the differences in federal and provincial legislation. Jorge also explained how to conduct a proper investigation and the importance of accurate report writing.  

The conference concluded with stewards participating in various town hall meetings where they were able to ask questions of Local Union experts in health and safety, workers’ compensation, the law, workplace representation, and pay equity.

You can find more photos on the UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Facebook and Instagram accounts!

Have you heard about the Solidarity Scholarships? 104 scholarships of $1,000 are available to Members and their children attending college or university. Learn more here!