People at a retirement home in Sudbury are feeling the burden of an ongoing strike by elevator workers.

A total of 1,400 members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors have been off the job since May 1, including about 25 elevator workers in northeastern Ontario.

Eleanor Pitzel is one of 40 residents living on the second floor of the Southwind Retirement Residence, where the building’s only elevator has broken down twice since the labour dispute began.


The strike by elevator workers means many elevators aren't being repaired or maintained. A total of 1,400 workers across the province have been on strike since the beginning of May. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

The 82-year-old said she feels confined by the lack of an elevator.

"It's tiresome not being able to do what you want to do," she said.

"We have card games and bingo games and these kinds of things, but they take place on the first floor, so we're unable to attend those things."

Pitzel said, even if staff carried her walker downstairs, she wouldn't be able to get back up.

"I have a heart condition, so coming up the stairs is very hard for me," she said.

Alternative plans in place

The general manager of Southwind said families have been understanding and staff do have plans in place should an emergency occur.

"When it came to these elevator interruptions, we [do] have a plan where we would provide services both up and down the stairs for the dining experience for our residents, and any other emergency situations we'd handle as they come along," Lisa Brule said.

Since the strike began, managers are doing the repair work, and that can take several days, Brule noted.

The union representing elevator workers says negotiations are still ongoing.

But in the interim Southwind isn't the only organization in Sudbury with elevator issues.

There have been recent breakdowns at the YMCA and the Pioneer Manor long term care home.

Pitzel said even though the elevator is fixed now, she's worried it will break down again.

"I guess we'll manage again if it does," she said.

"But the thing is, it would be nice to be assured that they're back to work and they're going to come when we need them."