ONA in the News
The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is frequently a health industry source and/or quoted in newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations across the province and nationally. Read the latest articles in which ONA is featured:
April: ONA has “blasted” Guelph General Hospital for insufficiently protecting its nurses and patients (Canadian OH&S Canada, April 2016). ONA has filed a grievance against the hospital, spurred by several recent attacks. ONA VP Anne Clark says in one case, an RN was grabbed by a patient and could not call for help. “Before anybody could come to her assistance, a full bottle of urine was thrown in her face, which splashed into her mouth and eyes, and she was bitten.” In addition, Clark says that in this day and age, “hospitals should be equipped” to deal with another situation in which a patient who had been contaminated arrived in the ER, which lacked the proper bay and personal protective equipment to decontaminate him. Clark says the recent incidents are part of an escalating pattern showing a lack of concern for safety and hygiene. She wants Guelph General to work with ONA to find solutions.
April: OH&S Canada (April 2016) reports that Ontario has become the latest province to make PTSD a presumptively occupational disease. However, one of the few dissenting voices about the presumption law has been the Ontario Nurses’ Association. ONA says it is outraged about the exclusion of RNs. “Our heroic nurses are witness to and experience a wide array of critical and traumatizing events,” said First VP Vicki McKenna. “Registered nurses are in every sense first responders…[who] are sent into harm’s way on a regular basis.”
April 18: Registered nurses from St. Mary’s of the Lake and Providence Care Hospital will be choosing their “unified union” this week (Kingston Whig-Standard, April 18, 2016). RNs will vote this Tuesday through Thursday. OPSEU wants RNs to choose them. OPSEU already represents the majority of RNs at the mental health hospital. ONA represents about 80 RNs at St. Mary’s on the Lake. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that ONA is the “largest nursing union in Canada and for the most part, we solely represent registered nurses…it’s nurses representing nurses.” OPSEU has an array of workers in its unions, and President Smokey Thomas said this is a strength.
April 14: Queen’s Park will have to develop its own laws and regulations around medically assisted death now that the federal government has introduced its own legislation (Queen’s Park Briefing, April 14, 2016). Health Minister Eric Hoskins says, “Our job is to make sure that we balance the rights respecting our physicians and other health-care providers, but at the same time providing access.” The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that clear guidelines from the province are needed. “We expect that in some cases, we will be asked to assist,” said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. “We need the government – and the regulator, the College of Nurses of Ontario – to issue clear policies and/or nursing standards regarding the scope of a nurse’s role.”
April 15: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud is meeting with nurses from the mental health facility at Providence Care to persuade them to vote to join the organization (Kingston Whig-Standard, April 15, 2016). ONA currently represents about 80 RNs at St. Mary’s of the Lake, but next week, nurses there and at the mental health site are to decide which union they wish to join. Roughly 120 nurses at the mental health hospital are represented currently by OPSEU, but the Ministry of Labour requires a vote as the two facilities are being merged. Haslam-Stroud says that ONA is Canada’s largest nurses’ union and “for the most part, we solely represent registered nurses…it’s nurses representing nurses.” The report notes that ONA has won similar votes in other hospitals where different services have been merged. In the past, ONA has advocated for nurses who are experiencing heavy workloads due to staffing cuts, workplace violence and the exclusion of nurses from new legislation making PTSD a workplace illness. Haslam-Stroud also says that “violence and mental health is one of our number-one priorities right now, and of course the RNs at Providence, at the mental health facility, are dealing with that type of issue each and every day.” ONA provides support for nurses called before the College of Nurses of Ontario and during malpractice lawsuits.
April 13: An opinion editorial in the Lakeshore Advance (April 13, 2016) says that front-line RNs have been excluded from coverage under Bill 163, and “that can’t be okay.” ONA is calling for the immediate inclusion of all nurses, notes the piece, and “so they should.” As ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna explains, in the course of their working lives, nurses are witness to and experience a wide array of critical and traumatizing events. They are in every sense first responders. McKenna says that “in every sector of health care, front-line caregivers experience violence, trauma and events that can trigger PTSD…” patients who have been in horrible car accidents, house fires, gunshot victims, hemorrhaging or patients burned beyond recognition. Nurses also faced SARS and life-threatening outbreaks, deal with patient homicides and suicides, cope with assault…She notes that of the 10 occupations reporting the highest incidence of workplace violence, four are health-care-related. The editorial says their exclusion from the bill “has to be an oversight” and the newspaper assumes the minister will “see the failure in this mistake.”
April 13: ONA’s Bluewater Health Bargaining Unit President Tracy Steadman says that the hospital’s nurses are thinly stretched and overworked, and that several nurses are now considering employment in the U.S. (Sarnia Observer, April 13, 2016). More than 60 RN cuts at Bluewater have resulted in accumulated burnout and fear among the Ontario Nurses’ Association members who fear their jobs could cut be next. “It’s hard to fight for your patient when you’re also worried about your job at the hospital,” said one RN. ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says there were 18 RN cuts this year at Bluewater Health, meaning a total reduction of 120,000 hours of RN care a year since last year. Across the province, more than 500 RN positions have been cut so far this year, says ONA, because of “belt-tightening” in the wake of funding reforms from the health ministry. One community member at the Ontario Health Coalition meeting suggested that nurses “get tough. Stop working those long hours.” McKenna explained that nurses won’t withdraw their care from patients as there is a nursing college standard that does not allow this. “We have to figure out something that does not impact…patients.”
April 11: The bill that makes PTSD a workplace illness for first responders has been called biased (CKWS TV Kingston, April 11, 2016). The Ontario Nurses’ Association says it is appalling that the bill fails to include front-line nurses as first responders. ONA is urging the premier to amend the legislation to be more inclusive.
April 7: Vicki McKenna, First Vice-President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, says that nurses working in Ontario hospitals are all expecting another round of nursing cuts this year (CFPL AM London, April 7, 2016). Nurses “feel, of course…that the budgets are being balanced on their backs. But more importantly than that…it’s about patient care.” McKenna says there are fewer and fewer RNs on the front lines and workloads are rising, so nurses are “finding it more and more difficult to care for people in the way they believe that they should, and in maintaining the standards…” She adds that for nurses, who are currently in bargaining for a new contract, their biggest concern is their workloads. “The priority is that there’s enough of them, and that they’re able to care for patients properly.”
April 7: NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo says the legislation for first responders that makes PTSD a workplace illness does not go far enough (CFMJ Toronto, April 7, 2016). The report notes that the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s 60,000-strong membership has been left out of the coverage for PTSD, but DiNovo says she would like to see it extended. She also notes that Manitoba has extended its PTSD legislation to all workers.
April 7: CHOK FM Sarnia (April 7, 2016) reports that Bluewater Health is “overcrowded and overburdened,” and the Sarnia-Lambton Health Coalition is holding a town hall to inform the community. Shirley Roebuck, chair of the local coalition, says “there is inadequate funding to ensure that hospitals can continue to do excellent work.” ONA says that 66,000 hours of front-line nursing care were cut at Bluewater Health last year, and the Petrolia endoscopy unit was closed. Roebuck believes the last round of funding cuts means there will be severe downsizing, job losses, declining service and in some cases, hospital closures.
April 7: CTV News London (April 7, 2016) reports that new legislation that says PTSD is a workplace illness for first responders is getting mixed reaction. The new law applies to police, firefighters, EMS, correctional workers and First Nation emergency personnel, but not nurses. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna is shocked by the omission. “Nurses do have a prevalence for PTSD diagnoses,” she said. “We have nurses who work in incredibly stressful situations each and every day, and coupled with that, the violent incidents that happen in our hospitals.” She says she hopes nurses will be included in the legislation sooner rather than later.
April 10: CBC.CA News (April 10, 2016) says that new PTSD legislation in Ontario is inconsistent for first responders. Vancouver-based labour lawyer Sarah O’Leary goes as far as to call it inhumane in BC, noting that those with PTSD are subjected to compensation board investigators digging around their personal lives to find stressors that aren’t work-related. O’Leary says that for a nurse who has had 13 children, for instance, “who died on you in one summer and the last one that occurs, you just crack, and a psychologist or a psychiatrist says, ‘it has been too much for her and she’s got PTSD and she needs some treatment,’ you shouldn’t have to prove that there’s nothing else going on in your life.” Ontario’s legislation has made PTSD a workplace illness for firefighters, police and paramedics, but excluded nurses. ONA VP Vicki McKenna says that nurses were “shocked and disappointed” that the legislation does not include nurses. “We have [PTSD] cases under appeal now that have taken a decade.” On Friday, the RNAO penned an open letter to the Premier calling for the government to “fix its mistake” and immediately add nurses to the legislation.
April 11: ONA says its members should have been included in the professions covered under the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act (Kirkland Lake Northern Daily News, April 11, 2016). Labour Ministry spokesman Craig MacBride said Bill 163 responds to the needs of those who need it most – first responders. However, ONA argues that its members also experience the traumas that police and firefighters do when survivors are brought to hospital. Nurses also go out and work in the field. ONA’s Vicki McKenna says that nurses “run into situations, they don’t run away from them. We have nurses that go into people’s homes, we have nurses working on the street, working along with police and paramedic teams…” Nurses in long-term care homes have entered rooms to find a homicide has occurred, and those in ERs constantly deal with victims of violence and horrible accidents.
April 9: An opinion editorial in the Ottawa Sun (April 9, 2016) says that though MPPs “got it right this week” when they passed PTSD legislation, there’s more work to be done. The legislation recognizes PTSD as a workplace illness for first responders. While police, paramedics and firefighters are covered, the editorial argues that nurses should also be on the list. They are so often “the unsung heroes of our health-care system.” The legislation should cover all nurses, not just those working in correctional institutions. Nurses are often first responders, and their jobs are highly stressful. The editorial asks when the last time was that you saw a specialist in the corridor of a hospital at 2 am. As Vicki McKenna from the Ontario Nurses’ Association says, “nurses walk into situations, or run into situations; they don’t run away from them.” Anyone who’s ever known a nurse or even been in a hospital knows the truth of this, says the piece. “We put our lives in nurses’ hands, just as we do with paramedics. The least we can do is reach out to them, and acknowledge the hard and vital work they do.”
March 23: Quinte Health Care's (QHC) Sunshine List will almost double because of an extra pay period in 2015 (The Belleville Intelligencer, March 23, 2016). Board treasurer Karen Baker says that while QHC's list for 2015 should have included just 69 people, the extra pay period has brought the total up to 102, including 45 registered nurses. There were just 19 RNs on the 2014 list. Baker also says that the hospital "has no control" over pay increases that are part of union contracts and that overtime also affects the list. RNs at QHC are members of ONA, and Baker says that the ONA contract "requires that the most senior RNs be provided overtime first...When you do incur that overtime, oftentimes it’s at the higher end of the salaries.”
March 19: In a letter to the editor in the London Free Press, a London-area RPN who "works alongside many great registered nurses" says that RPNs are feeling "battered" by ONA speaking out against hospitals cutting RNs and replacing them with RPNs (March 19, 2016). She says that while ONA should fight for its members' jobs, the "true issue here is about funding, not RN vs. RPN."
March 19: The Ontario Nurses' Association has launched a grievance against the Guelph General Hospital for failing to protect its nurses (Guelph Tribune, March 19, 2016). “Guelph General Hospital has flouted the laws around workplace safety meant to protect not only our dedicated registered nurses, but our patients and their families as well,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. In one incident a registered nurse was violently assaulted by a patient who bit, punched and kicked her and threw urine in her face. Haslam-Stroud says that "help was not readily available to the RN" adding that the hospital also failed in its response after the assault. “Not only did the hospital subsequently fail to inform the proper individuals, its Joint Health and Safety Committee and ONA until a full five days after the incident, but the failure to communicate resulted in the same patient assaulting a family member two days later.” Hospital president and CEO Marianne Walker says she is "very surprised" that ONA has made these concerns public, adding that the hospital recently completed a security audit and has made "a lot of changes" to improve security.
March 17: Nurses at Soldiers' Memorial Hospital fear job cuts as the hospital tries to bridge a $5-million funding gap (Orillia Today, March 17, 2016). “That cloud hangs over the work force,” says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. “It is the unknown.” Budget deliberations are ongoing, and spokesperson Terry Dyni says the board will consider “all other available options before determining whether or not staffing changes are required.” Officials will know by the end of the month what will need to be done to balance the books. Meanwhile, McKenna says that nurses are already feeling the pressure in some units where staff are bearing the burden of larger overtime workloads "because they are not filling vacant positions."
March 17: ONA has filed a grievance to try and push Guelph General Hospital into implementing increased workplace safety measures including immediate mandatory violence-prevention training, a system for flagging violent patients, and panic buttons for all nurses (Toronto Sun, March 17, 2016). The union says the hospital's security remains insufficient after a registered nurse was violently attacked by a patient. “Guelph General Hospital has flouted the laws around workplace safety meant to protect not only our dedicated registered nurses, but our patients and their families as well,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. Hospital CEO Marianne Walker says she is surprised that the union has gone public with its concerns rather than continuing to "work together" to resolve them.
March 18: "Help was not readily available" to a registered nurse at Guelph General Hospital who was violently attacked by a patient (cbc.ca, March 18, 2016). “This veteran RN had to be treated for a laceration and a deep bite, had to have blood tests for HIV and hepatitis, and is on antibiotics after the urine splashed in her eyes, nose and mouth.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the hospital failed to alert the proper individuals including the unions and the hospital's joint health and safety committee in a timely manner following the attack. "The failure to communicate resulted in the same patient assaulting a family member two days later.” ONA has filed a grievance against the hospital, a move that "surprised" hospital president and CEO Marianne Walker. "We take patient safety and staff safety very seriously...One of our strategic goals is to reduce staff harm and to become one of the safest hospitals in Ontario. We know that this is a journey, that there’s lots still to do.”
March 17: About 100 Cobourg residents attended a hospital town hall meeting on job cuts and other issues at the Northumberland Hills Hospital (Northumberland News, March 17, 2016). The Ontario Health Coalition-organized meeting was held March 12. Among the featured speakers was Ontario Nurses’ Association VP Anne Clark. Clark says that ONA has been raising the alarm about hospital under-funding for the last four years. She said, “this year’s Ontario budget provided a very small amount, a third of one per cent…to hospital budgets. So that’s $60 million for 150 hospitals who had funding frozen for four years.” Clark added that “hospital CEOs who tell you that registered nurse cuts will not affect patient care are not being truthful. The cuts directly affect our patients.”
March 16: Unifor Local 27 VP Ann Marie Tulett believes that when ONA campaigns against the replacement of RNs with RPNs, it's "serving its own interests, not that of patients" (Windsor Star, London Free Press, March 16, 2016). "We are all professionals, we are all nurses," said Tulett. Her comments come as four years of budget freezes have left hospitals cash strapped and making cuts. ONA estimates that hospitals have replaced or plan to replace hundreds of RNs, including some in Victoria Hospital's ER. However, ONA Vice-President Anne Clark says the issue is "not a union issue. It's a patient safety issue." She notes that the fact is that RPNs are not licensed to care for more complex and unstable patients, precisely the type of patients who are taking up more and more hospital beds. RNs and RPNs are both regulated nurses, but there is a difference. RPNs earn a two-year diploma, RNs "of a recent vintage" need four-year university degrees, with veteran RNs having two-or three-year diplomas. If a patient's health needs are too complex or their risks increase, RPNs must seek an RN to intervene. Clark says it's unfair to ask an RPN to care for a complex patient whose condition is not stable. The two agree that the bigger threat to patients is the fiscal straightjacket that the Ontario government has put on hospitals. Clark says the system "needs more of all of us."
March 14: A letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator (March 14, 2016) from Jill Matthews says that Linda Haslam-Stroud has failed to mention that more than half of RNs do not have university degrees, but are diploma-educated like RPNs. If specialized areas require RNs because they are university-trained, she writes, St. Joe's should consider removing diploma-trained RNs from these areas. She adds that the continuous "RN/RPN rhetoric in the media serves no purpose other than to create a "turf war" and mislead the public into believing that only RNs provide quality care." Both categories of nurses are registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario.
March 10: St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton has "pulled back" layoff notices for RNs (CKPC FM, March 10, 2016). The four specialized neonatal RNs were to be replaced with RPNs.
March 10: Hamilton's St. Joseph's Health Care has rescinded the layoff notices for four neonatal ICU RNs (CHML AM, March 10, 2016). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the hospital would need to provide another five months' notice for future layoffs. The RNAO says it is prepared to take legal action if the hospital decides to continue with the cuts.
March 10: St. Joseph's Healthcare has rescinded layoff notices to four neonatal RNs after public outcry pressured the hospital to review a cost-cutting plan that would replace them with lower-paid RPNs (Hamilton Spectator, March 10, 2016). The hospital announced on Tuesday that it would "pause and reassess" the plan to add RPNs to its Level 2 neonatal ICU. Both ONA and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario raised concerns about the plan. “This is nothing about RPNs and their great competencies and capabilities to care for patients,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “It is not appropriate for RPNs to be in a NICU.” A hospital statement issued Wednesday said St. Joes would rescind the notice to ONA "while we review the decision in this area." “We’re taking that to the bank,” says Haslam-Stroud. “They would have to give us another five months notice of any future layoffs and I don’t believe it will happen...The positive thing for our little babies is that we are going to have the appropriate care provider.”
March 9: St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton has agreed to reassess cost-cutting plans to replace some RNs working in its neonatal ICU with less expensive RPNs (Hamilton News, March 9, 2016). The hospital came under fire for the plan from ONA and the public.
March 9: The Northumberland Chapter of the OHC is hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss what's on the "chopping block" at Northumberland Hills Hospital (NorthumberlandToday.com, March 9, 2016). Local OHC co-chairs say that there will be a petition to sign when the meeting is held this Saturday. Restructuring plans at NHH include nursing cuts in the ER, medical and surgical units, cuts to laboratory services, housekeeping and clerical and cuts to palliative care. The Ontario Nurses' Association says that 28 RNs will be impacted by the cuts; Vice-President Vicki McKenna said that combining the restorative and palliative care units may look good on paper but the logistics in assigning staff to patients doesn't take into account the required bedside care while opening and closing ward doors, working around walls, and other issues on the units. She notes that research has shown that merged units and fewer staff leave nurses to care for more patients. For every RN cut, workloads go up and so do patient complications and even death.
March 9: St. Joseph's Healthcare is reassessing a cost-cutting plan to have lower-paid and less-educated nurses look after premature babies in a special care nursery (Hamilton Spectator, March 9, 2016). Winnie Doyle, VP of clinical services and the hospital's chief nursing executive said "in relation to some issues that have come forward, we have listened and are pausing. We will review and see if there is anything we've missed or haven't taken into account and we'll make a decision." CEO Kevin Smith says, "obviously there have been strong reactions." The Ontario Nurses' Association and the RNAO each raised concerns about the plan. RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun said, "we have to put a stop to things that are simply dangerous to patients." She says the RNAO took its concerns straight to the Ministry of Health. "It shocks me [that] a nurse leader would support this or the CEO...babies who need to be in a neonatal intensive care unit are very fragile. They can change in a minute. They can aspirate while feeding. They can have cardiac arrest." When informed of the plan to replace some specialty trained RNs with RPNs, the RPNAO said it was appropriate to do so as long as there is "a lower level of acuity with more predictable outcomes." ONA says there is no guarantee there will be enough stable babies at any one time and points out that the infants' conditions can rapidly change. A final decision is expected by April 1.
March 4: The President of the Ontario Nurses Association Linda Haslam-Stroud says plans by St. Joseph’s Health Care in Hamilton to replace four neonatal intensive care specialized RNs with RPNs are absolutely ridiculous (CKPC-FM, March 4, 2016). Hospital-wide, 38 RPNs will be hired as 60 RN jobs are eliminated by the hospital to help cut costs by $26 million. The hospital says the RPNs have a level of competency.
March 4: The decision to replace RNs with RPNs in the ICU neonatal unit at St. Joseph’s Health Care in Hamilton – the first hospital in the province to do so – is “ludicrous,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud (CHML AM, March 4, 2016). Neonatal patients should not be put at risk because they are already vulnerable and their conditions are not predictable, she added. The changes take effect in July.
March 8: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has written a letter to the editor of the Midland Mirror, stating that changes to Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) will adversely impact the quality of care for local residents (March 8, 2016). The Local Health Integration Network recently funded a study that made 108 recommendations, but the hospital RNs are extremely alarmed that some of those changes would cause increased suffering, and even death, to patients, Haslam-Stroud states. As well, many of the recommendations fail to take into account the patient population that is serviced by GBGH, a rural hospital with a diverse population. “If these recommendations are implemented, Midland-and-area residents will be ill-served by GBGH, will face long travels to other hospitals, which are also over-capacity, and will see the eventual transformation of a vibrant rural hospital into merely a Band-Aid station before patients are sent to Orillia, Barrie or Toronto,” she adds, urging residents to speak out now to preserve care.
March 5: Hamilton Health Sciences is eliminating nearly 100 full-time jobs to cut $30 million from its budget (Hamilton Spectator, March 5, 2016). CUPE Local 7800 president Dave Murphy said, "There is no room for any type of cuts like this. They're well past the bone. I don't know where they can make these cuts and still provide a level of patient care that is required." The hospital says it is not trying to save money by replacing RNs with RPNs. The Ontario Nurses' Association says that just a "very small number" of the impacted job cuts are to RNs.
March 3: NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says funding shortages in health care are forcing nurses to do work beyond the scope of their training (CBC Radio 1 Windsor, March 3, 2016). She visited members of the Ontario Nurses' Association in London and said RNs are being replaced with RPNs, which is "hurting patient care." RPNs are increasingly being asked to do work they were never trained for, and "that puts them in a very vulnerable position because it's not something that they're allowed to do in terms of their license. And so there are issues around not only whether that's the appropriate level of care for the patients, but also what that means in terms of the RPNs themselves."
March 3: Essex County council has ratified a new agreement with the 14 nurses working at Sun Parlor Long-Term Care Home (CBC Radio 1 Windsor, March 3, 2016). The ONA members have been in negotiations with the city and were without a contract for two years.
March 3: ONA members working at the Sun Parlor Home in Leamington "almost" have a new contract in place (CFCO Radio Chatham, March 3, 2016). County Warden Tom Bain says the new agreement is now with ONA and "they'll be looking at it."
March 5: A letter to the editor of the London Free Press (March 5, 2016) from ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the provincial budget contains a modest increase in funding for Ontario hospitals, and she believes that it is time for London Health Sciences Centre to rescind its latest round of RN cuts. The hospital is the lead trauma centre for the region and specializes in acute mental health services, oncology services, neurological services, critical care, medicine, cardiology and general surgery. Its mental health patients are most vulnerable when they enter the ER. RNs possess the critical thinking, skills, knowledge and judgement needed to best ensure patients receive safe, quality care. These facts "can't be ignored," she writes, and "a budget deficit does not and should not change the quality of care our patients deserve." With extra funding, it is imperative LHSC act now to stop the cuts.
March 3: Essex County council has ratified a new contract with Ontario Nurses' Association members working at the Sun Parlour Home for Senior Citizens in Leamington (CBC News, March 3, 2016). The 14 nurses are yet to ratify the agreement; they were without a contract for two years.
March 3: A letter to the editor of our Midland.ca (March 3, 2016) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud warns Midland residents of the proposed changes to Georgian Bay General Hospital that will adversely impact their quality of care. She writes that the 108 recommendations in a consultant's study, if implemented, would mean an increased risk of suffering and even death for patients. Changes would devastate local care, a charge backed up by a staff physician in his submission to the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN. Haslam-Stroud writes that it is "revealing" that many of the recommendations utterly fail to take into account the patient population served by the hospital. GBGH is a rural hospital with a diverse population, many of whom are low socioeconomically, suffer mental health issues or come from nearby communities with large First Nations populations. If the recommendations are implemented, the hospital will become little more than a band-aid station where patients are sent before being transferred to Orillia, Barrie or Toronto for care. Haslam-Stroud urges the residents to speak out now to preserve their health care.
March 2: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that RN cuts at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton are wide ranging (CHML AM, March 2, 2016). Hundreds of people joined Haslam-Stroud and ONA members at a rally outside the hospital. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath joined the protest, and said that patients are being discharged before they should be, only to return weeks later.
March 2: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud told CHML News (March 2, 2016) that St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton is "cutting RNs in our neonatal ICU, they're cutting them from our nephrology patients that are on peritoneal and hemodialysis that are very sick patients. They're cutting them on the medical units. And on the surgical units." Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath joined hundreds of nurses and supporters alongside Haslam-Stroud to protest inadequate hospital funding that is resulting in hundreds of RN cuts.
March 2: CTV News (March 2, 2016) reports that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in London to meet with ONA members. Horwath heard concerns about the province's cuts to health care from the nurses. Among the many issues was concern about the lack of beds, the reduction of RNs, safety concerns for RNs and patients, and the growing demand for mental health supports. Horwath says that the "government has been cutting back on health-care funding for years now...I don't think anybody in London particularly needs to know or needs to be told that the health-care system is falling apart."
March 4: St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton is believed to be the first Ontario hospital to replace some of its specialized nurses caring for sick and premature babies with lower-paid, less-educated staff (Hamilton Spectator, March 4, 2016). It will cut four RNs certified in neonatal intensive care and replace them this July with four RPNs who are not certified in this specialty but considered by the hospital to "have a high level of competence." ONA has raised concerns with this and other changes. The hospital is hiring 38 RPNs and cutting more than 60 RNs to cut costs. ONA says it's concerned about all the cuts, but the change to the NICU is the biggest worry. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the change is "absolutely ludicrous. Our neonates should not be put at risk. They are already vulnerable and are not stable and predictable." Provincial regulations say that RPNs can work with stable and predictable patients; RNs care for sicker and more complex patients. RNs have a university degree while RPNs have college diplomas. RPNAO Executive Director Dianne Martin says that RPNs are "nurses in every sense of the word....the patients best suited to care by RPN are those in a lower level of acuity with more predictable outcomes..." ONA Local 75's Donna Bain says she is very worried about the fluctuating level of RNs in the NICU. "We're blazing the trail" with the changes, she said, "but we're not given evidence to say, 'this is what is working'." ONA points out that similar experiments have not always gone well. Concerns about endoscopy having too many unstable patients has recently resulted in St. Joe's going back to a plan to staff the unit solely with RNs.
March 3: Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath met with nurses and their union to hear concerns about how Liberal cuts to health care have eroded quality (London Free Press, March 3, 2016). Horwath says the "whole system is falling apart. I can't remember a government that has so neglected health care." Nurses told the NDP Leader that there are too few hospital beds, too many cuts to registered nurses and too little support for people with mental illnesses, conditions that place patients and staff at risk.
March 2: iNews 880 London (March 2, 2016) reports that a group of London nurses met with the leader of the NDP when Andrea Horwath held a roundtable discussion with members of the Ontario Nurses' Association. Horwath heard about the impact of frozen hospital budgets on front-line care. "One of the things that registered nurses talk about specifically is expanding their scope of practice," said Horwath. "They are actually trained to do so much more in the health-care system, but at this point, they're not able to perform any of those duties they're trained for because the government does not allow that scope of practice."
March 2: Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has met with Ontario Nurses' Association nurses in London (blackburnnews.com, March 2, 2016). She says the nurses expressed concerns about front-line staff cuts, a lack of beds, safety and the growing demand for mental health support. Horwath says these nurses are "very concerned about the kind of care their patients are getting and the kinds of stresses that the profession is under. Epic levels of stress, situations where patients are lined up in hallways, where nurses are concerned for their own ability to provide the necessary care." Horwath says it's time for Premier Kathleen Wynne to "actually listen to the professionals, listen to the people on the front lines, listen to the patients." Horwath will continue her discussions with nurses next week when she plans to travel to northern Ontario.
March 3: There "aren't many people sitting on the fence when it comes to the provincial government budget" (Renfrew Mercury, March 3, 2016). Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski is one of the naysayers, and he says the budget makes life harder for ordinary Ontarians. Regarding health-care funding, the Ontario Nurses' Association says the budget's "small" increase to hospital funding should be invested in front-line nurses. "We have been appalled that the government has starved our hospitals of much-needed funding over the past four years and look forward to the new hospital funding improving the quality of care for Ontarians," said President Linda Haslam-Stroud. ONA did praise the government's commitment of $85 million to attract more and better compensate nurse practitioners.
March 1: CHML 900 (March 1, 2016) reports that RNs have the provincial government "in their cross-hairs." Hundreds attended a rally in front of St. Joseph's Healthcare to protest RN cuts. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the St. Joe's cuts are wide-ranging, from the neonatal intensive care unit to the medical and surgical units. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says "we're seeing a revolving door system, where patients are being discharged before they need to be or they should be, and they're coming back a couple of weeks later."
March 1: About 200 RNs held a noon-hour rally in front of St. Joseph's Healthcare to protest ongoing RN cuts (CHCH TV, March 1, 2016). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that, "What we're hoping for is that the patients are going to understand that the gutting of RN positions is going to actually negatively impact their care. For every patient added to our workload, my patients' death and disease rates will increase by seven per cent." She urges the public to sign a petition to end the cuts, which will then be delivered by MPP Ted McMeekin. ONA says 400 RN positions have been cut from Ontario hospitals this year.
March 1: CHCH TV (March 1, 2016) reports that the Ontario Nurses' Association has seen a total of more than 400 RNs cut from provincial hospitals this year alone. RNs and supporters held a noon-hour rally in front of St. Joseph's Healthcare yesterday, and President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the cuts to 84 RNs at the hospital show that money is valued more than patient care. She urged the public to sign a petition to end RN cuts, which will then be delivered to Ted McMeekin, MPP.
March 1: Ontario Nurses' Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says patient health is being put at risk due to RN cuts (AM900 CHML, March 1, 2016). She and hundreds of nurses and supporters marched outside St. Joseph's Healthcare yesterday. The hospital is cutting RNs to balance its budget. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said provincial funding of hospitals is "nowhere near" where it needs to be. She says that years of frozen hospital funding followed by a one-per-cent increase this year has left a "revolving door system" where surgeries are cancelled or postponed, patients are left in hallways on stretchers, and patients are being prematurely discharged from hospital, only to return later. Haslam-Stroud said the St. Joe's cuts are to nurses working in the medical and surgical units, as well as the neonatal intensive care unit.
March 2: More than 300 registered nurses, ONA representatives and supporters protested RN cuts at St. Joseph's Healthcare yesterday (Hamilton Spectator, March 2, 2016). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said, "the nurses are here to say enough is enough. The public needs to be aware that their health is at risk. We are advocating for you, but we need you to advocate for quality health care. We need you to speak to your MPPs." The hospital has announced it will cut more than 90 RNs in its $26-million budget cut exercise. Maria DaSilva is one of the RNs who will lose her job. She said, "I feel sorry for the patients. I hope that they can somehow bring the government to realize it needs to stop."
February 27: A letter to the editor of the London Free Press (February 27, 2016) says that there have been a number of protests of late to the government's cuts to health care. Harvey Easton writes that there have also been advertisements, notably by the Ontario Nurses' Association, protesting cuts to nursing staff. He says it puzzles him why so many health-care professionals voted for the current government. The increasing load on our health-care system will drastically increase with our aging population, and these cuts will exacerbate the already burdened system. He writes that "the message here is be careful who you vote for." Someday we'll all need care.
February 29: The Saskatoon Health Region says its staff rate of influenza immunization has plummeted since it discontinued a mandatory immunize-or-mask policy (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, February 29, 2016). Interim CEO Andrew Will said he is hoping to use this evidence as a case for the mask-or-immunize policy to be reinstated. Implementing the policy again may be tricky, as officials note a decision in Ontario. The Ontario Nurses' Association challenged that province's immunize-or-mask policy and won when an arbitrator struck it down. Arbitrator Jim Hayes found the policy was "a coercive tool" to force workers to get the vaccine.
February 24: Sue Sommerdyk, of the ONA Local representing RNs at Windsor Regional Hospital, says that she's not surprised that the province is giving the hospital funding to hire more RPNs (CKNW AM, February 24, 2016). Sommerdyk says RPN staffing is "cheaper healthcare." She believes much of the $7 million in one-time funding will be used to train RPNs to do more work. The workload, she says, is horrendous for RNs and fears what it will be like when the RNs are gone and RPNs take over. "We're seeing RNs being replaced with RPNs. We're seeing RPNs being replaced by PSWs who are also unregulated. So where does this stop?" Sommerdyk asks. "When do we start demanding healthcare that we deserve instead of the healthcare that the government thinks we should settle for?"
February 24: NDP critic Lisa Gretzky has grilled Health Minister Eric Hoskins about nursing layoffs at Windsor Regional Hospital (CKLW AM, February 24, 2016). Hoskins says the hospital is now making the transition to include more RPNs and the province has provided $7 million in funding to do so. Gretzky says that Canadian RNs are being forced to work outside of Canada because of the choices of the Wynne government.
February 26: St. Joseph's Healthcare is going to proceed with $26 million in cuts despite receiving more money from the province (Hamilton Spectator, February 26, 2016). Ontario hospitals received an increase to funding in yesterday's provincial budget, the first in five years. Hospital President Dr. David Higgins said "the increased funding for hospitals is a welcome investment by government during these fiscally challenging times. It will not alter the budget changes already announced at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton." Members of the Ontario Nurses' Association will hold a rally to protest the cuts on Monday; the union says it has received verbal notice that St. Joe's will cut 23 more part-time RN jobs in the coming days. ONA says that part-time RN jobs are being eliminated as adirect result of cuts to full-time staff. Donna Bain of ONA Local 75 says that "if you eliminate full-time, you don't need as much part-time." Two clinics are on the chopping block, and in addition, the hospital is hiring 38 RPNs to do the work currently done by higher-paid RNs. RNs have university degrees while RPNs have college diplomas. RNs care for sicker and more complex patients while RPNs are trained to work with stable patients. Bain says she is concerned. "Our hospitals are full of complex patients. No one convalesces in an acute care hospital. Government funding, or the lack thereof, have put hospitals in the position of having to look at the dollars and not what is best for patient care."
February 26: In its budget reaction story, the Toronto Sun (February 26, 2016) quotes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. She told the Sun that she is "fairly positive about the increase in funding for the hospitals. It is not enough but we've been through four years of funding freezes, so I'm hoping we can stop the erosion of registered nurses' positions, which have been a total of about 470 already in the last six weeks in the hospitals."
February 26: Canadian Press (February 26, 2016) reports that the provincial government is on track to eliminate a $5.7-billion deficit in the next budget. Among the highlights of the budget are free university and college for low-income students, a new cap-and-trade program and an increase in health care spending. Hospital funding is increasing by $345 million after a four-year freeze, something the Ontario Nurses' Association and Ontario Health Coalition say is a great step, but not enough to make up for the freeze.
February 25: The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit's board has voted to ask the health ministry to continue funding Ontario health units directly (Stirling Community Press, February 25, 2016). The ministry has proposed handing funding over to its LHINs. The Central East LHIN has taken over Northumberland Hills Hospital funding and it's now experiencing its second round of financial cutbacks in five years. The Ontario Nurses' Association is warning about adverse outcomes when cutting nurses while increasing in-hospital patients.
February 25: The Sarnia Observer (February 25, 2016) reports that while the "dust hasn't settled yet," cuts to Bluewater Health staff will be slightly less deep than initially thought. CEO Mike Lapaine told the board that he expects the loss of 11 jobs, not 12 as first thought. Union officials with ONA are working through the collective bargaining agreement process to determine whose jobs will be affected by the cuts, said Lapaine. Among the vacancies that will go unfilled are a nurse practitioner, an ER nurse, an RPN, two RNs in the maternal, infant and child unit and a senior recreational therapist. Lapaine said that the 20-bed complex continuing care unit is closing down.
February 25: RNs facing layoff from Windsor Regional Hospital are being interviewed for jobs in Michigan one day and hired the next (Windsor Star, February 25, 2016). MPP Lisa Gretzky told the health minister Wednesday to "stop pushing out Windsor nurses to the U.S." Last month, the hospital laid off 166 staff, mostly RNs, saying it was being squeezed financially because of hospital funding in the province that has been frozen and a new funding formula. The Ontario Nurses' Association says that a total of 169 RNs have been affected by the cuts, and it has launched a petition and letter-writing campaign. Hoskins said he believes the skill mix at Windsor should be left to "the experts, to the LHINs, to the local leadership, to make sure the mix of nurses and other staff in the hospital truly meets the patients' needs." ONA Local president Sue Sommerdyk said the minister should be ashamed for blaming Windsor Regional for keeping its level of care higher than other hospitals. "I really think it's appalling," she said. "With all these issues of workload and patient care and all the things we have today, the government should be augmenting the staff, it should be bringing in RPNs to work with the RNs, not cut the RNs." Sommerdyk doesn't see working in Michigan hospitals as a great option. She says nurses must write their Michigan exams and be licensed to work there; they encounter hassles at the border and tunnel tolls in their daily commute. "We want our nurses to stay in Ontario," she said. "They want to stay in Ontario, they want to work where they grew up, they want to be around their family and friends."
February 24: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that practical nurses should not be forced into performing the care that RNs should be providing (CBC Radio 1, February 24, 2016). "The patients that we're seeing now in the hospitals are far from stable and predictable. They're complex, they're unpredictable, and they're very, very sick." She will be watching the provincial budget to see what is allocated to health-care funding. Annual funding to hospitals has been frozen for four years, and many hospitals are replacing RNs with RPNs. Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that "what's important to me is that patient outcomes don't suffer as a result of these changes and I've made it clear to our hospitals that that's my expectation. That any staffing or any change for that matter or any development, modification in their services cannot negatively impact patient care."
February 23: Nine months after taking a hammer to its ERs and using the Toyota method to speed patients through the ER, London's largest hospital has hit delays (London Free Press, St. Thomas Times-Journal, February 23, 2016). In addition, the Ontario Nurses' Association is accusing the hospital of funding plans to use the Toyota method by "downgrading the calibre of nurses" who treat the mentally ill in ERs. James Murray, RN and president of ONA Local 100, says "we just spent millions of dollars to try to implement Toyota. It's wasted money." He said that five RNs who care for those with mental illness in the ER will be replaced by cheaper, less-educated registered practical nurses. Murray says that while RPNs have valuable skills, they cannot replace RNs tasked with making tough calls about those with mental illness, including whether to restrain them through the use of medication or physical devices. Murray says that RPNs will not be able to pick up vital subtle clues in these patients. Hospital CEO Murray Glendining says the change "won't compromise safety and the money saved had nothing to do with the Toyota plan." Murray is not convinced that Toyota changes will help patients, pointing to a review of all previous studies on similar efficiency changes that found little evidence that they make a difference.
February 22: The board of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will ask the Ministry of Health to keep funding health units directly, rather than handing control over to the province's LHINs (NorthumberlandToday.com, February 22, 2016).The Central East LHIN already manages funding for the Northumberland Hills Hospital which is in its second round of financial cutbacks in five years. Concerns were raised at public meetings in Cobourg and Port Hope about the impact that cutbacks and restructuring at the hospital have had on patient care. ONA has warned about the adverse outcome of cutting nursing staff as patient numbers go up.
February 19: The Ontario Nurses' Association has launched an ad campaign to educate the public about the detrimental impact of nursing cuts on patient care (associationsnow.com, February 19, 2016). The campaign focuses "on the professionalism of RNs, their medical knowledge, and advanced education that qualifies them to care for patients suffering from complex illnesses with unpredictable outcomes, like patients in hospitals." ONA urges the public to sign its petition supporting the Union’s call to end RN cuts, restore adequate hospital funding, and fund a multiyear plan to increase the RNs-to-population ratio.
February 17: As the Windsor Regional Hospital hands out layoff notices to RNs, recruiters from Michigan's Beaumont Hospital hope to snap up local nurses (CKLW AM, February 17, 2016). Windsor-area RNs and new graduates who are frustrated by local hospital cuts are submitting resumes to the American hospital which boasts "several job openings." "The problem for us in Windsor is we are creating what will be a serious shortage because our new graduates are leaving, they're going to the States, they're going to other provinces, and past practice has shown that they don't end up coming back," says Debbie Kane, a nursing professor at the University of Windsor.
February 16: Windsor's RNs sacrificed their Family Day to raise public awareness of cuts to RN positions at Windsor Regional Hospital, and the impact those cuts will have on patients (Windsor Square, February 16, 2016).
February 15: ONA bargaining unit president Susan Sommerdyk says Family Day was a "sad day for nursing" as many Windsor Regional Hospital RNs received notice that they'll be laid off by mid-June (CHWI TV, February 15, 2016). "We need more nurses at the bedside, not less." RNs held info pickets outside the hospital's two campuses on Monday to raise awareness of the impact that the loss of RNs will have on care. The Union hopes that anyone who saw rallies will go online show their support by signing a petition to stop RN cuts.
February 15: Windsor RNs "pounded the pavement" on Family Day to raise awareness of the impact that cuts to RN positions will have on patient care at Windsor Regional Hospital (CKLW AM, February 15, 2016). "These cuts are wrong. The hospitals need better funding, and patients deserve the care that goes with that funding," says ONA local bargaining unit president Susan Sommerdyk. "Today is a pivotal day for RNs here because the layoff notices went out effective today. And there's about 169 positions being lost."
February 16: Nurses holding an information picket outside the Ouellette campus of Windsor Regional Hospital warn that layoffs are hurting morale as the hospital loses young RNs just starting their careers, as well as more experienced nurses (CBC Radio 1 Windsor, February 16, 2016).
February 15: Around 50 to 60 nurses spent Family Day gathered outside Windsor's Metropolitan Hospital to protest job cuts and inform the public about how registered nurse layoffs will impact patient care (CBC Radio 1 Windsor, February 15, 2016). Windsor Regional Hospital is cutting the equivalent of 126 full-time RN positions. "This is hitting a lot of young nurses just coming into their profession, just coming into the jobs that they've spent a lot of time and effort in school," says ONA local bargaining unit president Susan Sommerdyk. "I've spoke to the students group, and they're really concerned about where they're going to have work when they come out."
February 16: On Family Day the Ontario Nurses' Association launched its Nurses Know campaign, celebrating "the dedication, knowledge and skills registered nurses (RNs) possess and the challenges they face as they provide quality, compassionate care" (Glengarry News, ArnpriorToday.com, February 16, 2016). "Nurses know what is ailing our health-care system. Nurses also know the cure. As this province continues to starve hospitals of funding, nurses know the impact on patients," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. The campaign includes television, radio, transit, print and social media ads running across the province, and an online petition that members of the public can sign to show their support. "By signing our on-line petition, Ontarians can support our call for an end to RN cuts, restoration of adequate hospital funding and a funded, multi-year plan to increase the ratio of RNs-to-population."
February 16: The Windsor Star's photographers were out covering events over the weekend, and featured ONA's information picket (Windsor Star, February 16, 2016). Among those at the information picket was RN Diane Valeri. Several dozen RNs and leaders from the Ontario Nurses' Association protested RN cuts.
February 13: Healthcare providers are "not happy" about the care they are receiving from the province (iNews 880 am, February 13, 2016). ONA broke off contract talks with the Ontario Hospital Association when the OHA made an offer that the union saw as a gutting of wages, benefits and job security. "We will not bargain away our future or our ability to provide quality patient care," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "Neither are we prepared to devalue the contributions made by these crucial professionals. Ontario's nurses are calling on the provincial government to give hospitals a wake-up call about the integral role that RNs play in the government's 'Patients First' agenda. Registered nurses had had enough of staffing shortages leading to death and disease, escalating workloads and violence." ONA says that unsafe RN staffing levels in Ontario are becoming common as hospitals continue to cut RN positions to balance budgets.
February 13: The union representing Ontario nurses says it has broken off talks with the Ontario Hospital Association (Broadcast News, February 13, 2016). ONA says the talks came to a halt when the Ontario Hospital Association made an offer that ONA says would result in the gutting of wages, benefits and job security. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the union is committed to negotiating an agreement that fairly reflects the contributions RNs make to patients.
February 16: Nurses and supporters rallied Monday outside both campuses of Windsor Regional Hospital to protest the planned layoffs of 169 RNs (Windsor Star, February 16, 2016). Sue Sommerdyk, president of the ONA Local, said, "this is a sad day for nursing." She says the protestors, carrying signs that said "More Funding, Better Care" and "RNs Have Your Back," rallied on Family Day because that is the day the lay-off notices take effect. She adds that the deleted RN positions equate to a 10-per-cent reduction in RN staffing. Motorists honked their horns in support of the nurses. Sommerdyk says care will deteriorate as a result of the provincial funding freeze for hospitals of the past five years.
February 15: RNs will be protesting in Windsor (Broadcast News, February 15, 2016). The RNs will be holding an information picket at Windsor Regional Hospital's Metropolitan and Ouellette sites to protest the 169 RN cuts announced by the hospital.
February 11: An opinion editorial in the Wallaceburg Courier Press (February 11, 2016) says that a Google search shows nurses being laid off in Ontario. The piece says he's not a health expert, but has been a patient. Most people would agree that nurses are vital to delivering an important health-care experience. Without nurses, "patients will pay the price." As well, "patient care will...go down the drain." ONA says that there were 770 RN positions cut across Ontario last year, and more are expected. Hospitals have to balance budgets, Most agree that by cutting nurses, patient care will decrease and put people's lives at risk. The workload is not going to lessen, as more mistakes happen and more nurses burn out trying to do more with less. The province says it's not to blame for budget cuts, as individual hospitals are responsible for staffing decisions. The OCH says Ontario funds all hospitals at the lowest rate of any province in Canada. Ontario now has the fewest hospital beds left per person. ONA says that every RN cut means 2,000 lost hours of care. This puts patients at an increased risk of suffering complications and death. Cutting nurses doesn't seem like a good idea. The editorial encourages people to "rally today for fired nurses."
February 10: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (February 10, 2016) says that none of Windsor's local MPPs or labour leaders have looked at the "imminent disaster" unfolding in our hospitals today. Colleen MacDonald, RN, writes that even though the OMA, ONA and RNAO have publicly detailed how "dangerous" the 170 RN cuts are, the CEO insists these changes will have no adverse effects. She adds that she is disappointed in Ken Lewenza, who did not exercise due diligence before publicly supporting the new mega hospital, which MacDonald calls the "latest health-care boondoggle."
February 5: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that in the past four weeks in Ontario, more than 400 RN positions have been cut from hospitals (CHML, CKNX, February 5, 2016). Haslam-Stroud is most concerned that RNs are being cut from units where their care is vital, including neonatal intensive care units, ORs, cardiology and oncology units.
February 5: ONA says that 2016 is turning into a disaster for patient care in hospitals (CKPC Brantford, February 5, 2016). Linda Haslam-Stroud says that hospitals are being hit with nursing cutbacks, with RN jobs cut from St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, the University Health Network, Mount Sinai Hospital and others.
February 8: More than double the number of front-line health workers in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have reported being attacked by patients than workers in surrounding communities, according to numbers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (CBC News, February 8, 2016). WSIB has allowed 27 lost-time injuries for assaults, violent acts or harassment by patients in just three years. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud told The Morning Edition host Craig Norris that nurses have felt for a long time that violence and injury is part of the job, but that is now changing. "It is not part of the job," she said, "it's not part of anyone's job...to be stabbed, kicked, sexually assaulted, choked, end up with a head injury or concussion...we need to do better." Grand River Hospital CEO Malcolm Maxwell said that safety is a growing concern among front-line health-care staff. He notes that patients are sometimes intoxicated, distraught or in grief, impaired cognitively or don't appreciate the consequences of their behavior. Last September, Guelph General Hospital hired four new permanent security guards following a fatal shooting in its ER.
February 7: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (February 7, 2016) says that political leaders and others are in full support of the new mega-hospital for the city. However, writes Colleen MacDonald, RN, they are "so busy trying to ensure quality health care 10 to 15 years from now, none of them have addressed the imminent disaster unfolding in our hospitals today." MacDonald writes that 170 RNs are being cut from Windsor, including Nurse Practitioners. "They will be welcomed with open arms to the Michigan medical system," she writes, and "they will never return." The Ontario Medical Association, ONA and the RNAO have all launched public campaigns detailing how dangerous these cuts will be to patients. David Musyj insists the changes will have no adverse effects on patient outcomes. MacDonald asks, "who do you believe?" As a retired RN, MacDonald writes that for years she has seen health-care dollars diverted from the bedside to administration and construction. She also suggests that if the province can cap physician and nurses' salaries, "surely they can do the same for administration."
February 5: ONA says that 2016 is turning into a "disaster" for patient care as Toronto-area hospitals are now being hit with RN cutbacks (Broadcast News, February 5, 2016). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says RN positions are being cut at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, the University Health Network's Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, Mount Sinai Hospital and CAMH. She says hospitals are cutting RNs out of units where their care is vital, including neonatal intensive care units, operating rooms, cardiology and oncology units. In the past four weeks alone, 406 RN positions have been cut from Ontario hospitals.
January 27: A letter to the editor of the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (January 27, 2016) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that ONA's goal in decrying the severe RN shortage at Hogarth Riverview Manor is to improve care for vulnerable residents. ONA is not debating the merits of RNs and RPNs, but rather fighting for the employer to adhere to strict regulations put in place by the Ministry of Health for safety reasons. ONA strongly believes that every RN and RPN has "a vital place in health care." The regulations in the Long-Term Care Act, 2007 are clear, and state that an RN must be present in the long-term care home at all times. Ministry inspectors have cited Hogarth Riverview Manor twice in 2015 for failing to comply with regulations, and have again sent in an inspector. Haslam-Stroud writes that the bottom line is that every nurse, no matter their designation, wants the same thing for patients: safe, quality care our vulnerable seniors deserve.
January 27: The Ontario Nurses' Association and Harrow Health Centre have reached a tentative deal (CKLW AM, January 27, 2016). The five NPs and three RPNs help provide primary health care to Harrow and McGregor.
January 29: Ontario Nurses' Association Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that while money has been taken out of Ontario's hospital budgets for the past four years, reinvestment in community care has been significantly less (Sarnia Observer, January 29, 2016). "It's like the cart is way out and the horse is still having breakfast," said McKenna. "We all understand how things have to be built over time, but in the meantime, you don't just stop doing something that provides a service to people, particularly when it comes to health care." McKenna's comments come after the announcement of another round of staffing cuts at Bluewater Health, including registered nurses. The cuts, says McKenna, will impact patient care. "For every additional patient added to an average nurse's workload, it increases the complication rate, the morbidity and mortality rate, by seven per cent," she said. "This is about people's health and this is about people's lives. This situation has to stop." McKenna urges people to start calling their MPP and officials at the LHIN to complain about the ongoing cuts.
January 27: ONA members providing care at Harrow Health Centre have avoided a strike (CBC News, January 27, 2016). The five Nurse Practitioners and three Registered Practical Nurses have reached a tentative first collective agreement with management. Nurses would have been in a strike position if a deal had not been reached. ONA is recommending ratification.
January 25: New Ontario Federation of Labour president Chris Buckley has "extended an olive branch" to three union leaders, including the Ontario Nurses' Association (Queen's Park Briefing, January 25, 2016). Buckley says the days of differences between past OFL leadership and affiliates are "behind us." Buckley has asked ONA, OPSEU and SEIU to return to the fold, promising a "less-combative approach." Buckley's period of time at the OFL has been spent mending fences with the unions and establishing a more reasonable tone with the government.
January 27: While Northumberland Hills Hospital says it is cutting 13.17 full-time equivalent RN positions, the Ontario Nurses' Association says that number is actually 28 of its RNs (Peterborough Examiner, January 27, 2016). ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says 17 full-time RN positions will be impacted, affecting 28 RNs. The impact of the RN cuts, says McKenna, includes heavier workloads for nurses, increasing the risk of patients suffering complications and even death.
January 26: ONA members providing patient care at Harrow Health Centre may be forced to strike as they continue to seek a first collective agreement (Nurses' Newsline, January 26, 2016). Five NPs and three RPNs provide a wide array of nursing care for their patients. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, says the nurses are providing an invaluable service, and nurses know patients will suffer should they be forced to strike. The president says she "remains optimistic that this employer will return to the negotiating table...and reasonably negotiate with our dedicated and highly skilled members."
January 26: Among the 1,000 protestors in North Bay in December were CFNU President Linda Silas and ONA Local Coordinator Debbie McCrank (North Bay Nugget, January 26, 2016). The protestors gathered in an effort to convince the government to free up more money for hospitals in Northern Ontario, particularly the North Bay Regional Health Centre. Silas says that North Bay is looking at 100 layoffs per year if the province does not end a freeze on health-care spending. McCrank said the cuts to RNs and services would impact all of the North, noting that the North Bay Regional Health Centre is a major treatment centre, but the province's cuts are putting that designation at risk, and putting extra pressure on all Northern hospitals. "It comes down to cheaper care versus quality care," she said. "The province is driven by the budget, not by the concern for quality health care."
January 26: The Ontario Nurses' Association, one of three unions affected by a new hospital plan at Northumberland Hills Hospital, says that 28 of their registered nurses will be impacted by cuts (NorthumberlandToday.com, January 26, 2016). The hospital says the cuts will total 13.17 full-time-equivalent RNs. However, ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that 17 full-time RNs will be cut as well as another eight RNs who are in job-share positions, and three part-time RNs. McKenna says that when you realize that a full-time RN works almost 2,000 hours annually, "that's a pretty big loss of RN care for patients and their families." Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra says that hospital funding is being cut for a ninth straight year at hospitals in Ontario. The hospital is also going to search for a further savings of several million dollars through "integration efficiencies" with other organizations. Despite hospital CEO Linda Davis's statement that patient care will be the same, McKenna says "that doesn't make sense. It isn't logical." She says that while the plan may look good on paper, the logistics of assigning staff to patients doesn't take into account the required bedside care while opening and closing ward doors, working around walls, and other issues on the units. Research shows that with fewer nurses caring for more patients, workloads rise and so do patient complications and death rates -- by 7 per cent for every extra patient added to an RN's workload. McKenna says that decisions are being driven solely by dollars and managers are looking at just front-end costs, not the back-end costs, or when the emergency department becomes a "revolving door."
January 24: ONA's claim of a "severe" lack of RNs at Hogarth Riverview Manor has created "local fallout" (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, January 24, 2016). Unifor Local 229 president Kari Jefford says that ONA's accusations have "caused significant fear and anxiety to those residents and families who have moved into the new facility..." and adds that ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud's statements are "unjust and not accurate." ONA says there have been multiple occasions when there have been no RNs on site. Jefford says there is no legislated minimum hours of hands-on nursing care for residents in long-term care. She adds that the "only point on which I can agree with Haslam-Stroud is residents in long-term care deserve dignity and respect and that there is a shortage of nursing staffing levels in all areas."
January 22: St. Joseph's Healthcare "is done with the personal alarm systems at its West 5th campus" (Hamilton Spectator, January 22, 2016). There was another assault against its nursing staff Wednesday evening as at least seven personal alarms of nursing staff failed to trigger a code white (a call for immediate help). Two RPNs and an RN sustained injuries, and all had tested the battery life of their alarms before the start of their shift, said VP of Quality, Strategic Planning, Mental Health and Addiction Programs at St. Joe's, Romeo Cercone. A separate alarm failed to indicate the patient had left their bed Wednesday evening. Now, the hospital is asking the alarm company to remove the system and replace it with "something that works." ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she is pleased with the hospital's quick response. The hospital has apologized for the toll "the long-standing problem" took on staff and clients.
January 22: Northumberland Hills Hospital is cutting staff in a hospital restructuring plan (NorthumberlandToday.com, January 22, 2016). The 92-bed hospital, which was built a decade ago to accommodate 137 beds, will consolidate two units -- medical and surgical -- into a 36-bed unit, and merge palliative and restorative care units into a 24-bed unit "to reduce the overall staffing," says CEO Linda Davis. The hospital will be meeting with ONA as well as CUPE and OPSEU in the coming weeks.
January 20: St. Joseph's Care Group is "facing more pressure" regarding staffing levels at its new Hogarth Riverview Manor long-term care facility (CKPR TV, January 20, 2016). The Ontario Nurses' Association says there is a severe lack of RNs at the new facility, and it has filed a grievance with the employer. ONA says the ratio of residents to RNs is far too low, and there have been a number of occasions when there were no RNs on site at all. Labour Relations Officer Michele Martin says "our concern is for the safety of residents...this is their home and they're here because they need some assistance. And we want to make sure that the right provider and enough providers are there to care." Two weeks ago, members of Unifor and the local Health Coalition rallied over similar concerns.
January 21: St. Joseph's Care Group disputes a claim by ONA that a lack of RNs at its Hogarth Riverview Manor is putting residents at risk (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, January 21, 2016). CEO Tracy Buckler says the organization "complies with all legislation with respect to the operation of our long-term care homes." However, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the organization's failure to plan and staff for the expansion of the facility has resulted in a lack of RNs, risking the care and safety of its vulnerable residents and violating legislated RN staffing levels. "This is an unsafe, unacceptable situation for our residents," she said. The facility had months to plan and ensure a full complement of staff to ensure residents transitioned safely into their new home, but, says Haslam-Stroud, "there are more residents but fewer RNs and just one registered nurse responsible for the entire facility overnight." Furthermore, she says there have been multiple occasions when there were no RNs on site at all. ONA is calling on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to take immediate steps to force this facility to comply with standards.
January 20: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that "we are experiencing cuts to registered nurses across the province" (The Cord, January 20, 2016). "Hospitals are telling us that it's simply based on the budget." The latest round of cuts happened at Grand River Hospital, where 38 staff have received lay-off notices and 30 vacant positions will be unfilled. As McKenna notes, "The research is clear that registered nurses at the bedside with patients improve outcomes. They stay shorter lengths of stay at hospital and have fewer complications. As an Ontarian and certainly as a practicing nurse, that's not acceptable." She believes the government must fund hospitals appropriately and should account for increases to costs that are often out of the hospital's control, such as utility costs and drug prices. "It's not a good situation for nurses in Ontario at all, nor for patients."
January 21: The Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Board of Health has ratified new contracts with two of the health unit's unions (Trenton Trentonian, January 21, 2016). The medical officer of health and the board say they are proud to have a new deal with members of the Ontario Nurses' Association. The chair of the board said "the staff acted responsibly. The increases they took were modest, but I think reflective of the reality that we need to be competitive in today's market."
January 20: The Ontario Nurses' Association is criticizing what it says is a severe lack of registered nurses at the new Hogarth Riverview Manor seniors home (tbnewswatch.com, January 20, 2016). ONA has filed a grievance with St. Joseph's Care Group, saying the ratio of residents to registered nurses is far too low. ONA officials claim that since residents began moving into the facility, there have been a number of occasions when there were no RNs on site at all. St. Joe's say that the large new building is an opportunity to try different staffing models and that they are confident in their ability to provide proper care to residents.
January 19: Nurses' Newsline (January 19, 2016) reports that a nurse had hot coffee thrown in her face during another assault at St. Joseph's Healthcare. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the RPN was assaulted by a patient in the medium-security forensics unit. When the nurse pressed her personal alarm button, it failed.
January 18: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the number of RN jobs being cut at Windsor Regional Hospital is a lot higher than the 80 positions announced earlier (CKLW AM Windsor, January 18, 2016). McKenna says the number is "just devastating" to the nurses and to the community. McKenna explains that some of the RN positions will be instead filled by RPNs and many not filled at all. The RNs have been there because people who are in hospital need to be cared for by highly skilled nurses. "Let's be clear: we need RPNs, we need RNs, we need everybody in the health care system working," says McKenna. "But what the issue at hand here is that where a patient's...condition is not predictable" they need an RN caring for them. Research shows clearly that when a patient's care needs are unpredictable, they need an RN at the bedside. Patients do better because of RNs' observation skills and their training. McKenna says the difficulty lies at what the impact of RN cuts will be on the patients. RN workloads will increase, and again, the research shows that this will increase the risk of patients suffering complications and even death by seven per cent.
January 18: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that the total number of RN positions being cut by Windsor Regional Hospital is 169, not the number provided by the hospital (CBC Windsor, January 18, 2016). ONA has now received formal layoff notices for the RNs and says the cuts will impact most areas of the hospital by way of direct layoffs, not filling vacant positions, reducing hours, replacing RNs with RPNs and closing some full programs. University of Toronto Nursing Professor Anne Tourangeau has done two large studies that looked at nurse staffing in Ontario hospitals. She says that despite examining many factors, including physician qualifications, it is consistently the RN staff mix that comes up as being the predictor of patient mortality. She believes that the quality of care will be impacted.
January 15: ONA is sounding the alarm about RN layoffs, and warns that patients will pay the price (hrreporter.com, January 15, 2016). ONA says 770 RN positions were cut last year, and hospitals in Windsor and Kitchener have already announced RN cuts this month. Windsor Regional Hospital cut about 120 RN positions this week, but says it plans to hire 80 RPNs. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the hospitals decide to "risk the health outcomes of patients by cutting RNs to balance the budget."
January 15: ONA says that patients will be the big losers after recent RN cuts at Ontario hospitals (CJQM Sault Ste. Marie, CHML AM Hamilton, CBC Radio 1 Windsor, CKGL AM Kitchener-Waterloo, CHAS FM Sault Ste. Marie, CFPL FM London, CHOK-AM Sarnia, CKTB AM St. Catharines, January 15, 2016). The nurses' union says 770 RNs were cut in 2015 and more RN cuts have already been announced this year. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that cash-strapped hospitals have decided to risk the health outcomes of patients by cutting RNs to balance the budget.
January 14: The Lynne Martin Show (CKLW AM Windsor, January 14, 2016) featured debate about whether listeners believe RN cuts will lead to health care suffering. ONA believes that patients are at risk because of RN cuts. The Liberals, Martin reports, insist that isn't going to happen.
January 14: The union representing 60,000 RNs say patients will be the big losers after RN layoffs at cash-strapped hospitals (CFPL AM, January 14, 2016). ONA is sounding the alarm and says 770 RN positions were cut last year. Hospitals in Windsor and Kitchener have already announced RN cuts this month. Health Minister Eric Hoskins praised the work of nurses, and said that hospitals are responsible for their own staffing decisions.
January 15: Queen's Park Briefing (January 15, 2016) reports that "last year was a rough one for nurses -- and it doesn't look like 2016 is going to be any better." ONA says that 770 RNs were cut last year as hospitals tried to balance budgets. The layoffs aren't stopping this year either, with Windsor and Kitchener hospitals announcing RN cuts. Who's to blame? Canadian Press reports that most of the fingers are being pointed at the government's funding formula, which hospitals say favours faster-growing areas.
January 14: The PCs say that Ontario hospitals are in crisis because their hospital budgets have been frozen for four years, and say nurses are ending up as targets and patients are getting decreased levels of care (Canadian Press, CTV News, January 14, 2016). PC Health Critic Jeff Yurek says "when you do front-line health-care cuts the patient does suffer, care does diminish, because nursing is the backbone of the health-care system, particularly in the hospitals. When you cut back on nursing you just increase the stress levels for those who are left to fill the void." ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says hospitals have "decided to risk the health outcomes of patients by cutting RNs to balance the budget." ONA says 770 RNs were cut last year and two hospitals have already announced layoffs this month. The NDP says the Liberal government's decision to freeze hospital budgets means nursing cuts that directly impact patients. They also pointed out that people can wait up to 200 days for home care services after being discharged from hospital. NDP Health Critic France Gelinas said "I would tell the government to stop the cuts to front-line care. I don't want to be alarmist, but this will put patients at risk." She also is concerned that the push to home- and community-based care means pushing patients to private companies contracted to provide services. "The money that goes to profit does not go to care, but it comes out of the same pie."
January 15: ONA is "sounding the alarm" after layoffs of RNs by cash-strapped hospitals and warns patients will pay the price (Waterloo Region Record, London Free Press, Hamilton Spectator, CP24, January 15, 2016). ONA says 770 RN positions were cut across Ontario last year, and hospitals in Windsor and Kitchener have already announced more layoffs this month. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says hospitals have decided to "risk the health outcomes of patients by cutting RNs to balance the budget." Part of the problem is a new funding formula that favours hospitals in high-growth areas such as Toronto, meaning less money for Windsor-Essex, says the CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital. ONA says that "hardly a day goes by" where it doesn't get a call from hospital nurses who say they've been told to expect layoffs. A four-year funding freeze means hospitals have less money for patient care because of inflationary pressures. ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that "I absolutely believe that this is all being driven by budget cuts." Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that hospitals are responsible for their own staffing decisions. "Our expectation remains that they work closely with the LHINs to determine how best to manage their budget concerns in a way that sustains quality health care services for the future and does not impact patient care."
January 12: Arnprior Today (January 12, 2016) reports that ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud believes patients will pay the price of Windsor Regional Hospital RN cuts. Cutting RNs "flies in the face of the research showing the direct link between RN cuts and increased risk of patients suffering complications and even death." Haslam-Stroud encourages residents to speak out, to question their MPPs on where they stand on more RNs, and demand better, safer patient care.
January 13: Windsor Regional Hospital is cutting more than 160 full-time jobs, and 80 RN positions will be replaced with lower-earning RPNs (CFCO AM, January 13, 2016). While CEO David Musyj says that a province-wide funding freeze for hospitals and a new funding formula that punishes Windsor are to blame, he also says that quality outcomes for patients will not be affected. ONA Bargaining Unit President Susan Somerdyck disagrees, noting that "studies and studies have shown that the higher trained the health-care provider at the bedside, the better outcome. So they're not going to have the same quality of care."
January 13: RN layoffs are happening across the province, including at Windsor Regional Hospital, and ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says hospitals are entering the fifth year of zero base budgeting increases (CBC Radio 1, January 13, 2016). Each year, hospitals cut RN positions to balance their budgets. In Windsor, the hospital will replace dozens RNs with lower-paid, less-educated RPNs. McKenna says that there is a place for everybody in the system, and RPNs care for patients who are "predictable, have less complex care needs." RNs are needed at the bedside of those with unpredictable outcomes. McKenna says that the in-hospital patients of today are not the same as in-hospital patients a few years ago -- most require care providers at the bedside who can assess and be with [patients] "when their situation is not predictable, and when it is complex." The government has not provided adequate funding to our hospitals, she says, and administrators need to have the courage to speak out.
January 15: ONA says that patients will pay the price for layoffs of RNs at Ontario hospitals (Broadcast News, January 15, 2016). President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the "cash-strapped" hospitals have decided to "risk the health outcomes of patients" by cutting RNs to balance hospital budgets. ONA says there were 770 RN positions cut across Ontario last year, and hospitals in Windsor and Kitchener have already announced more layoffs this month.
January 14: The Stirling Community Press (January 14, 2016) reports that ONA has ratified a new contract with the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Board of Health. Medical officer of health Dr. Richard Schabas says he is proud of the board's approval of a new three-year contract.
January 13: The seventh incident of violence at St. Joseph's Healthcare in just two months has occurred (CHCH TV, January 13, 2016). A nurse had hot coffee thrown at her by a patient at the psychiatric facility at the West Fifth Campus. The nurse suffered burns to the face and neck and was treated. Hospital spokesperson Romeo Cercone said, "it was something that was completely unpredictable. There was really nothing that we could do to anticipate that this was going to happen." The Ontario Nurses' Association says it is "appalled" at the number of violent attacks. ONA, in a written statement, said, "Violence should never be part of a registered nurse's job." Retired RN Lisa Yanch says that "we don't do this job as nurses or as other health-care workers because we expect it to be a walk in the park; however, you do expect a certain level of security." She says the hospital is silencing its workers and putting them at risk of serious harm.
January 13: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the province needs to step up funding for hospitals, and hospital administrators have to stop cutting jobs every time there is a budget shortfall (CBC News, January 13, 2015). Haslam-Stroud says that, "what's happening is the bean counters are basically cutting what the easiest thing to do is, cut the staff, because that's the majority of the cost." In an interview following news that Grand River Hospital is cutting 68 jobs, many of them RN positions, Haslam-Stroud said that hospitals need to be held to account because they talk about their own budgets, but not how cuts will really affect patients. She adds that there is no doubt in her mind that patient care will be affected by the cuts. "Patients' death and disease rates will increase," she said, and "the evidence is very clear that that will happen."
January 14: Another nurse has been assaulted at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton, and hospital officials say dead batteries are to blame for the nurse's personal alarm system failing (Hamilton Spectator, January 14, 2016). In this incident at the Mountain site, an RPN had "very hot coffee" thrown in her face by a patient in the medium-security forensics unit as she was redressing wounds. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that when the RPN pressed her personal alarm button, it failed. "This is not the first time that we had concerns regarding the competencies of these alarms," said Haslam-Stroud. CUPE Local 786 President Dominic DiPasquale says the RPN needed medical attention. The hospital says that every staff member is supposed to check their battery level every shift, and exchanging a battery is as easy as walking to the security office. However, Haslam-Stroud said the policy is for batteries to be checked monthly, which the battery in question was, and the union has been refused in its requests of the hospital to make the checks more frequent. "It is a faulty system and blaming it on staff error is easy," she said. "But no staff wish to have a non-working alarm." Retired St. Joe's RN Lisa Yanch says there is only one security person at the West 5th campus that has been trained in battery replacement. When the battery is dead, staff have been told to wait up to three days to have it changed, and instructed to use a whistle in the interim. She said the batteries often will indicate they are full and then fail to work the next day. Haslam-Stroud says that the problems with the alarm system are ongoing and that the Ministry of Labour visited twice - in December - and witnessed two alarms fail during testing. MOL orders were laid against the hospital. DiPasquale says, "it's now up the Ministry of Labour to say enough is enough, and we are going to fine you."
January 14: Unions representing Grand River Hospital staff say it's "not possible" that job cuts won't have an impact on patient care (Waterloo Region Record, January 14, 2016). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that hospital CEOs facing a budget deficit just take the "easy solution" and "cut registered nurses. I believe that it is not in the best interest of patients," she said. Grand River is cutting 38 staff and eliminating 30 vacant positions to deal with a $10-million budget shortfall. Fourteen RNs are being cut as well as nine RPNs. Hospital President and CEO Malcolm Maxwell said he expects patients will not see any changes because of the cuts. McKenna says the cuts have to stop. They are a result of frozen government funding for hospitals despite the rising costs of care, and hospital administrators making decisions based on the bottom line, not what's best for patients. "We're seeing this [RN cuts] right across the province," she says, "and we have to say, stop this. Adequately fund our hospitals."
January 12: ONA says that patients will pay the price for Windsor Regional Hospital's decision to cut RN positions (National Post, January 12, 2016). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that she is "deeply disappointed but not surprised" that more skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated RNs are being deleted from the hospital. Doing so, she says, "flies in the face of the research showing the direct link between RN cuts and an increased risk of patients suffering complications and even death." Windsor Regional says that a new funding formula is punishing it for being a slow-growth community.
January 12: Windsor Regional Hospital is cutting close to 90 jobs, and its CEO says that it won't impact patient care (CTV Windsor, January 12, 2016). David Musyj says the hospital had six straight balanced budgets but a new hospital funding formula has left it with a $20-million shortfall. His hospital is going to make changes to 166 positions in total, and decrease the number of RNs by 80 while increasing RPNs by 80. The Ontario Nurses' Association has come out to say that patients will pay the price for the job changes. The president of ONA says that more skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated nurses are being deleted from the hospital and that poses an increased risk of patients suffering complications and even death. ONA is encouraging patients to voice their concerns to their MPPs.
January 12: More than half a dozen nurses at St. Joe's hospital in Hamilton have been assaulted or threatened since mid-December, says the President of the Ontario Nurses' Association (Nurses' Newsline, January 12, 2016). With budget cuts looming, Linda Haslam-Stroud says she fears things will get worse. "There is an ongoing issue with respect to violence towards [registered nurses] at St. Joe's," she says. "There is no way to provide even the current level of service -- as poor as it is -- with the hammer hanging over the budget."
January 12: ONA Bargaining Unit President Sue Sommerdyk says that "studies and studies have shown the higher trained the healthcare provider at the bedside, the better outcomes, so [patients] are not going to have the same quality of care" following drastic RN cuts at Windsor Regional Hospital (Blackburn News, January 12, 2016). Windsor announced it is cutting 120 nurses and replacing 80 RNs with RPN positions. The cutbacks are "hard to swallow" for the RNs. Sommerdyk says it "was a very difficult day and there's more to come." She says morale has taken a hit and nurses feel "concern, worry, upset."
January 12: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that patients will pay the price following Windsor Regional Hospital's announcement that it will cut RN positions (windsoriteDOT.ca News, January 12, 2016). "I am deeply disappointed but not surprised to hear that yet more skilled, knowledgeable and dedicated registered nurses are being deleted..." she said. Doing so, she says, "flies in the face of the research showing the direct link between RN cuts and an increased risk of patients suffering complications and even death."
January 12: ONA is criticizing the decision of Windsor Regional Hospital to cut RNs due to funding and revenue issues (CBC News, January 12, 2016). CEO David Musyj says that to "soften the blow," the hospital will hire 80 RPNs to replace RNs. Susan Sommerdyk, the ONA Bargaining Unit President, says "The government is forcing the hospital's hands to make these changes and these changes are not good for Ontarians. They're not going to be good in the future and they're not going to be good now." Of 166 jobs being cut, 120 are RNs. The other 46 will be a mix of staff including administration positions. Twelve years ago, Windsor Regional switched to an all-RN model of care, saying it was best for patient care.
January 13: Windsor Regional Hospital is cutting its RN staff to help eliminate a $20-million budget shortfall (Windsor Star, January 13, 2016). In total, the hospital is eliminating 120 nursing jobs from an RN workforce of 1,550. Windsor will "switch" 80 RN positions into RPN positions and CEO David Musyj says no patient services are changing, no programs are being reduced and patients won't be affected. RNs say there is plenty of research showing that all-RN hospitals are better for hospitals. "In my opinion, you're putting patients more at risk," said Sue Sommerdyk, president of ONA's Windsor Regional Bargaining Unit. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the RN cuts equate to a quarter million hours of RN care annually. "This is a huge, drastic cut, this is one of the biggest we've seen," she said, asserting that reducing RN staffing results in poorer patient care, from higher infection rates to increased misses and near misses on the hospital floors. "As you cut the RN staff, the patient death and disease rates go up. And Windsor is gutting the RN positions. To be clear, I don't buy that they had to do this." Musyj admits that switching RNs for RPNs contradicts the earlier belief that all-RN hospitals have better outcomes. "But now the [government] funding formula doesn't allow us to do it, so we have to make the change."
January 7: Public Health Nurses at Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health Unit have a new contract (CJTN FM, CJBQ AM, January 7, 2016). The Ontario Nurses' Association members and the employer have negotiated the new three-year agreement.
January 6: CJBQ News (January 6, 2016) reports that ONA members at the Hastings and Prince Edward Board of Health have a new three-year contract.
January 7: Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Board of Health has ratified new contracts with two unions (Belleville Intelligencer, January 7, 2015). Medical officer of health Dr. Richard Schabas says he is proud to have board approval of a new three-year contract with the Ontario Nurses' Association and CUPE. Members of both unions will receive wage increases of 1.75 per cent for 2015, 1.25 for 2016 and one per cent in 2017.
January 6: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says many or all of the violent attacks on nurses at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton can be attributed to inadequate hospital funding (CHML AM, January 6, 2016). Hospitals have received no funding increases for several years now, and RNs are being cut -- Ontario lost more than 750 RNs last year alone. There aren't enough nurses on staff to de-escalate violent situations. McKenna explains that when people come to hospital, they do so because they need care, attention and support, which nurses provide. Fewer nurses impedes the ability to adequately support and de-escalate volatile situations. While additional security would be helpful, people are looking for treatment and support. Less support equals more agitation for some patients. Nurses are going to work each day "hoping that there is enough staff." However, nurses are becoming very, very fatigued, anxious and they know they're working in an environment that feels unsafe. ONA has been receiving great support from the public on the issue of workplace violence, says McKenna, and ONA will continue to advocate on behalf of patients, as required by the CNO. She adds that administrators cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the fact that their nurses are being injured and beaten at work.
January 6: A St. Joseph's Healthcare patient is facing charges after two nurses were assaulted with a cellphone (Hamilton Spectator, January 6, 2016). A 40-year-old female patient threw a cellphone at staff Monday afternoon, resulting in minor injuries for the two workers at the Charlton campus. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that based on what she was told by her sources, the assailant was escorted from the ER by police officers. The patient also had a dog leash, which she used to hit one of the nurses. Haslam-Stroud says that St. Joe's needs to put in place an antiviolence program. "There is no excuse that any nurse is going to accept that they should be on the receiving end of being pummeled," she said.
January 5: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that more than half a dozen nurses at St. Joseph's Healthcare have been assaulted or threatened since mid-December, and budget cuts threaten to make things worse (CBC News, January 5, 2016). "There is an ongoing issue with respect to violence towards [registered nurses] at St. Joe's," she said. "There is no way to provide even the current level of service, as poor as it is, with the hammer hanging over the budget." The hospital must find $26 million in savings in order to balance its 2016/17 budget. Haslam-Stroud believes that RN positions will be cut, and she ties those cuts to safety. "As they erode these positions, they are essentially putting patients and [nurses] at risk...if you have the appropriate number of nurses there responding, you can deescalate a lot of these situations..." She adds that the hospital should reexamine staffing levels as well as training and education for management and staff. However, considering that it has taken 18 months to agree on the wording for a zero-tolerance for violence in the workplace sign, Haslam-Stroud says that ONA is not holding its breath.
January 1: The top news headlines for 2015 in Kenora included an item from May about ONA (kenoradailyminerandnews.com, January 1, 2016). It notes that ONA was concerned about potential nursing cuts and planned to air their concerns at a town hall meeting. Vicki McKenna, vice-president of ONA, told the Daily Miner and News that nursing cuts at the hospital mean less beds and less nursing care for patients.
January 2: Hamilton Spectator (January 2, 2016) reporters and columnists spoke to those in the region to ask for their list of key issues people will be talking about in 2016. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that RNs will be looking for improvements to hospital funding, monitoring the cutting of RN positions which increases morbidity and mortality of patients, reducing violence against nurses, and maintaining a publicly funded, administered and delivered health-care system.
January 2: The Ontario Nurses' Association is "fighting efforts by regulators to publicly report when nurses commit crimes or fall short of professional standards" (London Free Press, Stratford Beacon-Herald, January 2, 2016). The report says that if ONA members have a drug addiction, they are being told by their union not to tell their employers. Local 100's Jill Ross has written on the Local ONA website that "Our LEAP team encourages members to not self-report an addiction or substance dependency. Contact LEAP." ONA's own newsletter says that the union is very "concerned about the publication of this additional information, especially with respect to criminal charges, in person cautions and...we believe that the College has leaned too far in favour of public disclosure at the expense of nurses' human rights and the principles of fairness." Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that more transparency is needed to hold all health professionals accountable and to improve care and safety for patients."
January 4: A letter to the editor of the Waterloo Region Record (January 4, 2016) says Ontarians should value their health more. Megan Bedbrook, a nurse in the busy ER, says that when fully staffed, a team of 15 nurses often see just shy of 200 patients in a day. "I need to believe that the work we do is important, that the time, effort and sacrifices that we invest into making careers out of caring for other people matters...because at the end of the day, I am more than exhausted. I am depleted." She notes that according to ONA, Ontario has the second-worst RN-to-population ratio in the country. More than one million hours of RN care was cut in 2015 alone. "This does not result in better care. In fact, risk of complications and death increases by seven per cent for each additional patient added to a nurse's workload." Bedbrook writes that health-care is an essential services but doesn't receive the money it needs to provide services.
December 22: A breast cancer diagnosis is frightening, but RNs are there with you every step of the way (pubarticles.com, December 22, 2015). RNs are by your side during diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Specially trained RNs in many communities work as breast cancer screeners; when the disease is diagnosed, patients have access in many hospitals to Clinical Nurse Specialists who discuss treatment options, and help you understand the information given to you by the physician. RNs also can provide helpful advice on how to manage side effects from treatments. One ONA member explains that "we are teachers and we are your advocates. We are there to make referrals to dietitians, social workers, financial assistance plans...We are a shoulder to cry on and someone to enjoy a good laugh with." RNs across the health-care system are the glue that holds the system together. That's why some say RNs are invaluable in any health-care setting. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
December 28: Of the Kingston Whig-Standard's (December 28, 2015) top stories of 2015, ONA's CCAC members' 16-day labour dispute was number 17. The report notes that the CCAC strike came to an end after both sides agreed on February 14 to settle outstanding issues through interest arbitration.
December 30: The Goderich Signal Star (December 30, 2015) wrote that when the local Community Care Access Centre workers went on strike, they picketed outside the town's court house. Ontario Nurses' Association provincial president Linda Haslam-Stroud visited Goderich to support the members, noting that 10 months previously, ONA was able to achieve a 1.4-per-cent wage increase for 55,000 hospital nurses. She said that CCAC members were being refused a "minor, meagre 1.4-per-cent wage increase after we've taken two years of wage freezes in the last three-year contract."
December 30: The top stories of 2015 in Parry Sound (Parry Sound North Star, December 30, 2015) include the strike by nine of the province's 14 CCACs. The piece notes that the strike began in February, when the weather was -30 degrees Celsius. The Ontario Nurses' Association reached an agreement with the CCACs in mid-February.
December 31: The Brockville Recorder and Times (December 31, 2015) has listed its top stories of the year. For July 2015, top stories included Ontario nurses "firing back" against local claims that front-line position cuts won't affect service levels. The Ontario Nurses' Association says that cutting 26 full-time-equivalent RN positions will ultimately lead to "more deaths and more complications."
December 24: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she is aware of four incidents of violence in four days at the West 5th campus of St. Joseph's Healthcare (thespec.com, December 24, 2015, Waterloo Region Record, December 26, 2015). She says that inadequate staffing is behind the violence. "My reaction is: violence is not part of RNs' jobs. St. Joe's is going to have to do more than pay lip service to provide us a safe work environment." Police confirm that they are investigating the latest assault. Hospital president Dr. David Higgins said staff have called police and are fully co-operating with the investigation. He disagrees that understaffing is an issue. Instead, Higgins says he wants to improve processes and policies related to each incident. Retired RN Lisa Yanch says that nurses are reluctant to speak out because of fear of reprisals. While she says she left on good terms after 35 years of working at St. Joe's psychiatric care unit, she is concerned about the safety of employees. Haslam-Stroud says incidents of violence are becoming "a weekly if not a daily incident."
December 24: The Board of Health for Grey Bruce Health Unit says that it is "pleased" to announce a tentative agreement with members of the Ontario Nurses' Association Local 4 (Kincardine News, December 24, 2015). The RNs and Public Health Nurses have a new four-year contract that "honours" the province's public-sector message of fiscal restraint but provides a wage increase of 1.5 per cent in the first year, 1.5 per cent in year two, 1.75 per cent in year four and aligns wages with other sectors within the organization in year four. The nurses will also receive signing bonuses and adjustments in contract language.
December 21: Public health nurses represented by the Ontario Nurses' Association have reached a new four-year agreement (Nurses' Newsline, December 21, 2015). The nurses work for the Grey Bruce Health Unit. The tentative agreement was reached mid-way through the third day of talks.
December 23: The Sarnia Observer (December 23, 2015) has published an account of issues that hit the region hard early in 2015. Among them were cuts to RN jobs at Bluewater Health, and a strike of Erie St. Clair CCAC care coordinators. The ONA members set up picket lines on a rotating basis, and officials were forced to warn that new patients seeking home care and those looking for placement in long-term care could face longer waits.
December 17: Ten per cent of Ontarians suffer from diabetes and have access to a network of RNs and NPs to help care for your and maintain your health (nigeriancanadiannews.ca, December 17, 2015). Nurses say that many patients find out they're diabetic during a routine physical. Control of blood sugar is vital, says one NP with the Ontario Nurses' Association. "The complications of uncontrolled diabetes can affect major organs of the body, such as the kidneys," she says. "It can also affect the circulatory system and ultimately result in an amputation." The skills and care provided by RNs are the reason why some say an RN is invaluable in any health-care setting. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
December 18: If you are diagnosed with a condition requiring day surgery, take heart in knowing that a dedicated group of RNs will be there during your surgery (medicalnewstoday.com, December 18, 2015). Surgical nurses have special training and education; patients have access to these skilled RNs to help support and guide them through their surgery. RNs will assess you, prep you for a procedure, and help ensure a safe, optimal outcome. An RN will be there to monitor you in the post-anesthesia care unit, and provide you with important information about what to do if problems occur. RNs are there to support you and your family. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
December 18: St. Joseph's Hospital is doing a critical incident review and the Ministry of Labour is investigating following an attack on two nurses by a patient at the hospital's mental health facility (CHML AM, December 18, 2015). Both nurses were taken to hospital by ambulance and the Ministry of Labour has been called. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said she has been trying to get anti-violence action taken for months. The 22-year-old patient has been charged with assault.
December 18: Two nurses were physically attacked by a patient at St. Joe's mental health facility this week, leaving staff raising questions about management's slow response to implementing safety measures (CHML News, December 18, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said she's been trying for 18 months to get anti-violence action taken by St. Joe's. The new measures won't be in place until January.
December 17: Queen's Park Update (December 17, 2015) reports that Health Minister Eric Hoskins believes his plan to scrap CCACs and transfer care coordinators and their responsibilities to the LHINs will reduce bureaucracy. Commenting on the plan, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that ONA is guardedly optimistic. "If the demise of the CCACs actually cuts out some of the bureaucratic excess that is presently there with the CCACs, and that money is reinvested in patient care, I think it'll be a positive step forward in making the best use of health-care dollars," she said. However, if this is just another layer of bureaucracy under a different name, then it will just create more problems. Haslam-Stroud is also skeptical that all of the LHINs are up to the organizational job they will be asked to perform.
December 18: RPNs and support workers braved cold weather Friday afternoon to stage an information picket to raise awareness of significant job cuts at Runnymede Healthcare Centre (Bloor West Villager, December 18, 2015). The joint ONA-SEIU picket saw participants carrying signs that read: "Stop the Cuts," "Together we Stand" and "Stand up for Justice." The hospital wants to cut nurses and others to "streamline patient services and the patient/client experience." The unions say the cuts are not due to budget constraints and that there is "something inherently wrong with how Runnymede is managed...the hospital had a surplus of 8.5 per cent last year."
December 21: ONA members working for the Grey Bruce Health Unit have a new four-year agreement (Owen Sound Sun Times, December 21, 2015). The agreement was ratified by both sides. It includes wage increases of 1.5 per cent in the first year, 1.5 in year two and 1.75 per cent in the third year. In the fourth year of the contract, the increase will be one per cent or higher if other sectors within the organization receive higher increases.
December 18: A 22-year-old patient has been charged with assault after violently beating two nurses at St. Joseph's Healthcare's mental health facility (The Hamilton Spectator, December 18, 2015). One nurse was left unconscious after the assault and both victims suffered concussions. ONA is criticizing the hospital for being slow in implementing measures to improve staff safety. “For 18 months, the Ontario Nurses’ Association has been trying to get anti-violence actions taken by St. Joe’s,” says Linda Haslam-Stroud, the provincial president of the union and a Hamilton nurse. “It has taken them 18 months of back-and-forth arguing for them to finally come to some conclusions.” The union says that this latest attack shows that increased safety measures must be put in to place in January. There have been 129 reports of assaults on RNs at the hospital since last January. The Ministry of Labour is also investigating this latest incident.
December 12: Expectant parents in Ontario have Labour and Delivery RNs at their side every step of the way (Cambridge Times, City Parent, Ottawa Parenting Times, December 12, 2015). From pre-admission to post-delivery, these skilled and knowledgeable nurses are there to support and care for both moms and infants throughout their hospital stay. Nurses build strong connections with their patients and aim to provide a positive birthing experience. Just 10 per cent of babies are born on their due date, and RNs closely monitor mothers, develop personalized care plans based on the mother's medical history and changes in condition. For the 140,000 babies born in Ontario each year, the education, skills and care these specially trained Labour and Delivery RNs provide is why one reason some say RNs are invaluable in any health-care setting. For more information, visit www.ona.org.
December 8: Ten per cent of Ontarians suffer from diabetes (foodtube.net, December 8, 2015). If you are diabetic, a network of RNs and NPs are there to help care for you and help you maintain your health. Some nurses have specialized training that helps you prevent or manage diabetes. NPs can refer you to special clinics to learn how to manage health threats, and NPs will manage, treat and prescribe medications to control your blood sugar. Nurses say that many patients discover they are diabetic during routine physicals. If diagnosed, control of blood sugar levels is vital, says an NP, a member of the Ontario Nurses' Association. "The complications of uncontrolled diabetes can affect major organs of the body, such as the kidneys. It can also affect the circulatory system, and ultimately result in an amputation." Nurses specializing in diabetes care can be found in every city in Ontario, and their skills and care are the reason why some say an RN is invaluable in any health-care setting.
December 8: Someone suffers a stroke every 10 minutes in Canada, and 14,000 a year die as a result (North Bay Nugget, December 8, 2015). In Ontario, more than 173,000 stroke survivors have access to the Ontario Stroke System, a network of provider organizations and partners that offer comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based care. RNs care for stroke patients from the ER to rehabilitation. Ontario's skilled RNs work to provide their patients with the best health outcome possible after they suffer a stroke. As one ONA member says, "An RN is the first person a stroke patient will meet. RNs have the knowledge, through special stroke education, to give frightened patients and their families the support and guidance they need every step of the way." Registered nurses advise that if you're having a stroke, time is of the essence. Disability and death risks can be minimized by getting to a hospital as quickly as possible.
December 3: Santa Claus "is not immune to the pressures of budget cuts and won't be visiting St. Joe's this year" (CBC News, December 3, 2015). Management of the hospital is searching for $26 million in savings to balance its budget; one of the casualties is the annual Breakfast with Santa event for staff. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said in October that while the Liberals may say they have hired 24,000 nurses since 2003, the reality is that 625 RN positions have been cut in Ontario this year alone. "Our patients are more acute, complex and sicker, and we've reduced the highest skilled level of nurses to care for them," she said. Morale at the hospital has plummeted, and it's now commonplace that when staff are sick, they are not replaced.
December 4: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud’s is warning that while St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton has not as yet announced cuts to nursing positions as it seeks to find $26 million to balance its $550-million budget by 2016/17, nursing cuts are done “by stealth.” Haslam-Stroud said hospitals don’t replace nurses who have retired or moved, or where positions are cut due to layoffs. One of the casualties of the St. Joseph’s budget cuts is its annual free “Breakfast with Santa” for staff, which has now been cancelled (CBC.CA News, December 4, 2015).
December 3: The Ontario Nurses' Association warns of worse care as Quinte Health Care's Board approved its draft 2016-2017 restructuring plan in principle (Trenton Trentonian, December 3, 2015). The four-hospital organization had a small surplus of $301,000 as of September, but to fall in line with its expected provincial funding for the next fiscal year, the operating plan must cut $11.5 million in spending. That has senior staff proposing the removal of 162 positions, the addition of 78 others, and a widespread shuffle of services and staff. While final approval of the plan is due in January, changes remain possible as the corporation and unions meet this month.
November 27: Nurses at Marshall Gowland Manor have won the first round in a likely ongoing battle to preserve its favourable staffing ratio (Sarnia Observer, November 27, 2015). The county-owned facility is reallocating 10 RPN shifts to Ontario Nurses' Association member RNs. Under ONA's current contract, four RNs are required for every two RPNs scheduled. An arbitrator has ruled that the county will spend an additional $25,000 annually to cover the change in staffing. The county's general manager of long-term care, Chris Doyle, says costs will rise "because we do need PSWs. They do the majority of the day-to-day - hygiene, feeding work - that goes on in the home, so we're working on a report on what the impact will be..." RNs are primarily responsible for handling the more complex work, he says. Doyle says the issue is not an "RN against RPN" argument, but "RNs have more of the team leadership role, so they're more of the critical thinking, they're more of dealing with residents, they're dealing more with residents' families, they're dealing more with the complex problems on a day-to-day basis in a care home."
December 1: Close to 1,000 protesters attended a rally in North Bay, calling on the government to free up money for hospitals in Northern Ontario (North Bay Nugget, December 1, 2015). CFNU President Linda Silas spoke at the rally and said that Northern Ontario hospitals are seeing "the most severe cuts." ONA Local Coordinator Debbie McCrank was at the rally and said that cuts "impact all the North." "It comes down to cheaper care versus quality care...The province is driven by the budget, not by the concern for quality health care.”
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