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:
November 20: An opinion editorial in the Belleville Intelligencer (November 20, 2015) says that in these days of hospital restructuring, "the forecast is always like the weather: some bad, some good, but hard to predict." As QHC announced the staffing impact of operating budget cuts yesterday, a net loss of 84 jobs across three hospitals, it was no different. People may be driving further for care. The Ontario Nurses' Association filed a grievance after the last restructuring introduced an "interdisciplinary model of care" though both sides have agreed to wait until the model is fully implemented before discussing it. The hospital's chief of staff, Dr. Dick Zoutman, says that the move of services from Trenton to Belleville does not mean that care will suffer. However, one anonymous worker said that "we're up in arms," about cuts. "Patients come first" and restructuring is being done on the "backs of workers and on the backs of patients."
November 19: CJBQ AM Belleville (November 19, 2015) reports that discussions have started between Quinte Health Care and the health-care unions representing workers there. The Ontario Nurses' Association, OPSEU, SEIU and Unifor are being informed of the number of job losses in the latest round of restructuring.
November 19: Busloads of unionized health-care workers from across central and eastern Ontario descended on Trenton's Centennial Park to protest cuts Friday (Trenton Trentonian, November 19, 2015). Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra said that "small and rural hospitals like TMH cannot survive another two more years of cuts. Hospitals in small towns are teetering on the brink of disaster." ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna "kept the crowd riled up." She said that Ontario health care is under attack, and "we will have to fight for it in order for it to stay." Our TMH vice-chair Mike Cowan said Quinte Health Care employees were barred from attending the rally after administrators issued an edict that no employees were to be given the day off to attend.
November 19: November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month and a new campaign is encouraging the community to wear a purple scarf to show support (Renfrew Mercury, Arnprior EMC, November 19, 2015). The purple scarves are available for $10 at the Bernadette McCann House; pins are also available. The campaign is sponsored by the Ontario Nurses' Association and Talk4Healing. The "Wrapped in Courage" campaign is in its fourth year.
November 19: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that Brockville Mental Health Centre should be devoting its energy to preventing workplace violence and improving safety, not wasting taxpayers' money and using stall tactics in legal disputes (St. Lawrence EMC, November 19, 2015). The hospital has lost a bid in divisional court to quash an Ontario Labour Relations Board decision to issue orders requested by ONA, intended to protect nurses at the facility. Security guards are posted, due to the order, in a forensic unit where a nurse was stabbed by a patient in October 2014. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that "it seems that Brockville Mental Health Centre would rather spend what is likely amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars on frivolous labour board and court challenges than spend the money where it's needed - in improving safety."
November 17: Quinte Health Care will meet with representatives from hospital staff unions to discuss cuts to positions (CJBQ, November 17, 2015). Management will meet with the Ontario Nurses' Association, OPSEU, SEIU and Unifor. Belleville General will be hit the hardest with cuts.
November 17: Nurses' Newsline (November 17, 2015) reports that ONA members will meet in Toronto this week to discuss health-care issues and their support of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH). The Provincial Coordinators Meeting is being held and approximately 250 RN leaders from across the province will hear updates on RN cuts, workplace violence and other issues of concern to them and the patients they care for. ONA is supporting OAITH's "Wrapped in Courage" campaign -- part of the organization's strategy to raise awareness of domestic violence and violence against women.
November 16: National Nursing Students' Week is being celebrated November 15 to 21 and ONA is proud to sponsor and advocate for nursing students (Gettopical.com, November 16, 2015). Nursing students are the future of the profession, and are advocates the union activists of tomorrow. This year's theme of Nursing Students' Week is "Nursing the Mind," focusing on how nursing students can meet their own self-care needs as they balance the demands of class, placements and other commitments. ONA members are learning about and supporting events in their own communities.
November 13: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud told CBEW FM Windsor (November 13, 2015) that workplace violence must be eradicated. Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the workplace murder of Lori Dupont, RN, Haslam-Stroud said that despite some changes, hospital CEOs must take violence more seriously. She says that CEOs must be held responsible through their accountability agreements with the hospital board, LHIN and government.
November 16: More than 600 health-care workers and residents gave the "cold shoulder" to the provincial government at the rally protesting health-care cuts in Trenton on Friday (North Bay Nugget, Belleville Intelligencer, Peterborough Examiner, Northumberland Today.com, November 16, 2015). Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition says the public is also concerned about cuts at the North Bay Regional Health Centre. Last month in North Bay, more than 4,300 people participated in a telephone town hall. Meanwhile, she says that small and rural hospitals like Trenton Memorial simply can't survive another round of cuts. At the rally, ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna "kept the crowd riled up." She said that health care in Ontario is under attack. "We will have to fight for it..." Cutting hospitals slowly so that they are left mere skeletons is "not acceptable to me as a registered nurse and it's not acceptable to communities."
November 13: The Brockville Recorder & Times (November 13, 2015) reports that the Ontario Nurses' Association is claiming Brockville Mental Health Centre is compromising staff and patient safety by continuing to fight an order to keep security guards on site. In October 2014, the OLRB ordered the hospital to have a security guard on site to assist nursing staff in a forensic psychiatric unit following the stabbing of a nurse. The hospital appealed the decision, but it was upheld by the courts and the centre was ordered to pay more than $37,000 in costs. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she believes that rather than spend funds on court battles, "management should instead devote that money and energy to preventing workplace violence and improving safety for patients and nurses." Executive VP Cal Crocker, from the organization that runs Brockville Mental Health Care, says "we don't agree with them. We don't think [security] significantly increases safety in the unit. We would see that as an ongoing cost that is not justified in terms of our patient care environment." Crocker believes that safety could be improved "more efficiently" in a "collaborative work environment."
November 12: ONA is remembering one of its members today (CKLW Windsor, November 12, 2015). Lori Dupont, RN was slain while working in the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital 10 years ago, and ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the "actual experience on the front lines hasn't really changed to the point where we're feeling safe in the workplace." ONA says that nurses continue to be vulnerable to workplace violence.
November 12: CBC Radio/TV Windsor reports that the inquest that followed the workplace murder of Lori Dupont, RN, revealed that the anesthetist who killed her had been stalking her for several months (November 12, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that in the intervening decade since Lori's murder, not that much has changed for nurses' safety. Nurses are being harassed and injured on the job daily in Ontario, she says. Haslam-Stroud notes that in one recent year, there were "upwards of 500 lost-time injuries with violent incidents in health care...we believe the majority of incidents are still going unreported." She believes solving the problem starts with hospital CEOs. "They should be measured on that, and that should be part of an accountability agreement between the CEO and the hospital, and the local health integration network, and the government."
November 13: Oxford County public health director Lynn Beath has confirmed that over the past year four full-time equivalent public health nursing positions have been eliminated through attrition (London Free Press/Chatham Daily News, November 13, 2015). Beath says the cuts, which have been met by disapproval from ONA, are the result of an ongoing funding freeze from the Ministry of Health.
November 13: ONA is speaking out against an Oxford County decision that saw the loss of four full-time equivalent public health nurse positions through attrition over the past year (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, November 13, 2015). “The facts are that the need is still there and the community services they were providing are now not going to be done or added on to someone else’s day-to-day work,” says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna. “Woodstock is a high-needs community. New mothers and their families need the support and assistance of the public health nurses. Public health nurses (in Woodstock) are saying they are seeing increased needs for their assistance from families, particularly those with infants and young families and they are very concerned what the loss of their colleagues will mean to the services they provide.”
November 13: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that a decade after the murder of nurse Lori Dupont at the hands of a coworker, there is still a long way to go to protect nurses and health-care workers from workplace violence (Windsor Star, November 13, 2015). “Violence is still alive and well in hospitals across Ontario,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. She adds that while there were 500 lost-time injuries to nurses last year, many incidents of workplace violence are not reported. "The culture has not changed. The culture is that violence is part of our jobs. And there hasn’t really been a concerted effort by employers, by that I mean hospitals, to actually change that kind of premise.”
November 12: Ten years after the murder of nurse Lori Dupont the Ontario Nurses' Association warns that nurses are still vulnerable to workplace violence (windsorite.ca, November 12, 2015). "Despite the passage of amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, not enough has changed in our workplaces," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "Measures to protect registered nurses - and our patients - from violence are inadequate. We need policies and laws that are enforced so that we can hold employers, CEOs and boards of directors of health-care agencies accountable for the safety of their workers." She hopes that a provincial roundtable on workplace violence may help improve workplace safety for nurses and other health professionals.
November 12: On Thursday the Ontario Nurses' Association marked the 10th anniversary of the workplace murder of Windsor registered nurse Lori Dupont (AM 800, November 12, 2015). Union president Linda Haslam-Stroud says that Dupont's death "shook" nurses and health-care workers across the province and prompted the drive for improved workplace safety laws in Ontario following a coroner's inquest. But Haslam-Stroud says that 10 years after Dupont's death Ontario's nurses are still vulnerable to violence and harassment in the workplace. An ONA survey found that 54 per cent of members reported experiencing physical violence while on the job.
November 12: This Thursday marked the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of nurse Lori Dupont who was stabbed multiple times by her estranged boyfriend, a coworker at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital (CBC News at Six, November 12, 2015). Dupont's death resulted in new provincial legislation that aimed to stop workplace violence and harassment but ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that today not much has changed for nurses who are regularly harassed and injured while on the job. "We have upwards of over five hundred lost time injuries alone with violent incidents in health care last year that were reported by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. However those are only five hundred that might have had lost time injuries that were reported. We believe that the majority of incidences are still going unreported." She adds that solving the problem and eradicating workplace violence starts with hospital CEOs. "...They should be measured on that, and that should be part of an accountability agreement between the CEO and the hospital, the hospital and the local health integrated network, and the local health integrated network and the government."
November 12: The Central East LHIN has halted public discussions by Northumberland Hills Hospital of any proposed cuts (NorthumberlandToday.com, November 12, 2015). The announcement comes one day before the Regional Day of Action planns to focus attention on the lack of provincial government funding for hospitals in general, and those of NHH in particular. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said even the Hay Report recommendations include the need for more funding for this hospital. "The issue is that provincial hospital budgets have been frozen and it is a "race to the bottom to see who can do it cheaper and faster." While there is as yet no information about the number of RN cuts, whenever cuts happen there is a direct impact on patient care and "negative outcomes" for patients, including increases disease and death rates.
November 10: Nurses' Newsline (November 10, 2015) reports that ONA is urging Brockville Mental Health Care management to "stop wasting taxpayers' money and end the stall tactics that are continuing to risk staff and patient safety." Rather than use funds on court battles, ONA is urging management to instead devote that money and energy to preventing workplace violence. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that "it seems [they] would rather spend what is likely amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars on frivolous Labour Board and court challenges than spend the money where it's needed - in improving safety." She adds that until the ministries of Health and Labour hold senior officials of health-care facilities accountable, there remains little incentive to take action to prevent workplace violence.
November 12: The Sudbury Star (November 12, 2015) reports that Nurse Practitioners have come a long way since their inception in Ontario 20 years ago. The piece profiles NP Roberta Heale, who is now an associate professor at Laurentian University's nursing program and an NP who works at the Sudbury East CHC. Heale was an RN who graduated in 1999 as an NP. During Nurse Practitioner's Week, as being marked by the Ontario Nurses' Association, Heale reflected on what has changed in the past two decades. The NP scope of practice has changed and expanded; they now run NP-led clinics and provide primary health care to thousands of Ontarians. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that the province has 2,669 NPs and they provide "high-quality health care in hospitals, long-term care facilities and the community each and every day."
November 12: A letter to the editor of the Quinte EMC (November 12, 2015) from ONA Local 31 coordinator Jackie Dales says that not long ago, each of the areas within the Bay of Quinte region had access to a full-service hospital. Since the amalgamation of four hospitals into Quinte Health Care Corporation, local access to comprehensive care has disappeared. As an RN working in long-term care, Dales writes that she recently heard from another caregiver who had sought help for her own mother that the woman refers to Trenton's hospital as a "local band-aid station." The woman's point was that the hospital could only do so much with the resources it has, and she had to travel much further to receive the appropriate level of care. Dales offers solutions to the challenges facing QHC, and to keep full services at the Trenton, Picton and Bancroft sites. She writes that rather than "band-aid stations," the hospitals should be "cathedrals of health for the citizens of Quinte."
November 11: NDP health critic France Gelinas says we can expect to see "big changes" to how home and community care are handled in the province (Sudbury Northern Life, November 11, 2015). The auditor-general has released one very critical report on the province's 14 CCACs; a second is expected to come out in early December. The salaries of CCAC executives are also under fire, with the Ontario Nurses' Association being particularly critical of North East CCAC CEO Richard Joly for his six-figure salary while union members at nine CCACs were on strike earlier this year. ONA asked why Joly should have received a pay increase totaling 64 per cent between 2008 and 2013 while the average CCAC RN received just four per cent over a similar period. Northern Life calculated that Joly received an annual increase of nearly 13 per cent per year.
November 10: ONA is calling for the Brockville Mental Health Centre to devote its energy to preventing workplace violence and safety, rather than using stall tactics and wasting taxpayers' money to fight legal decisions (InsideBrockville, November 10, 2015). The hospital lost a bid in divisional court to quash an OLRB decision in which it was made to hire security guards to assist nursing staff in a forensic unit. The security was requested by ONA following the stabbing of a nurse in the unit. ONA and both the labour ministry, as well as another union, were in agreement that the appeal of the OLRB ruling was premature. “It seems that Brockville Mental Health Centre would rather spend what is likely amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars on frivolous labour board and court challenges than spend the money where it’s needed – in improving safety,” said ONA President and RN Linda Haslam-Stroud.
November 10: Quinte Health Care's new restructuring proposal will be announced next week (Belleville Intelligencer, November 10, 2015). On November 18, the hospital will meet with the Ontario Nurses' Association, Unifor and OPSEU about changes. Administrators will meet with the SEIU the following morning. CEO Mary Clare Egberts says that Belleville General Hospital will "carry the brunt of the changes." Services will shuffle between sites and Trenton will lose 2,400 day surgeries per year to Belleville.
November 10: Layoff notices have arrived for staff at North Bay Regional Health Centre (North Bay Nugget, November 10, 2015). An undisclosed number of cuts are being made to Ontario Nurses' Association members, OPSEU and CUPE members. A spokesperson for the hospital says that just a portion of the initial layoff notices have been provided; it hopes that about 40 per cent of those impacted will accept early retirement or early exit packages. A variety of unions, hospital employees and other unionized workers gathered outside the hospital yesterday to educate the public about the impact on patients -- early discharge, longer wait times and more patients for fewer nurses to care for. The hospital is also closing 30 beds. One employee said that issue "is not about our jobs. It's about the community's hospital. People are concerned that if they get sick, there will not be a bed for them or they may have to travel to get services." The public, say the workers, is "also growing bitter because so much money has been raised to support it, but many never realized it was a private building."
November 7: University professors from across Ontario were in North Bay last week to support striking full-time faculty at Nipissing University (North Bay Nugget, November 7, 2015). Among the supporters were members of the Ontario Nurses' Association, CUPE, OPSEU and the United Steelworkers. Striking faculty members say the "employer's idea of manager rights is slowly encroaching on academic matters in the university."
November 8: An opinion editorial in 24 Hours Vancouver (November 8, 2015) notes that an Ontario arbitrator has struck down the "vaccinate-or-mask" policy of an Ontario hospital. That policy stipulated that health-care workers who do not take an influenza vaccine must wear protective masks for the duration of flu season. B.C. nurses sent a letter to the provincial health officer demanding its similar policy be axed. The piece notes that in the ONA case, Dr. Gaston De Serres testified that unless nurses show symptoms, there is little evidence that they infect their patients. The editorial asks why - if only sick people are known to infect patients - does the Vancouver Coastal Health's Attendance-Wellness Policy routinely reprimand nurses for taking a sick day? Nurses are not arguing against vaccinations, says the piece. Given the choice, most would still vaccinate. However, nurses are asking for the right to make evidence-based decisions in regards to the health of themselves and their patients. No one is more qualified to make health decisions than our doctors and nurses and "I ask the government to stay out of their way."
November 8: Members of the Ontario Nurses' Association are celebrating Nurse Practitioners Week across the province (Sudbury Northern Life, November 8, 2015). The annual celebration is intended to bring awareness and recognition to the exceptional care provided by the province's 2,669 NPs. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that "Nurse Practitioners provide high-quality health care in hospitals, long-term care facilities and the community each and every day." They are RNs with extended training, enabling them to provide primary care to patients, order tests and prescribe many medications. The work NPs do is helping to transform health-care through safe, collaborative and effective care. They are trusted and valued by their patients.
November 4: London Health Sciences Centre is closing four acute palliative care beds at Victoria Hospital and cutting approximately 4,000 hours of RN care (CFPL AM, November 4, 2015). ONA Local 100 Bargaining Unit President James Murray says that the decision to close the beds is contrary to recommendations in a review commissioned by the hospital. "There was no specific reason given," for the closures, said Murray. "The way the presentation was presented to us was in line with the external review that was completed in July 2011. But the recommendation suggested an increase in beds, not a decrease." The report recommended up to 20 palliative care beds be available, consolidated into one location to increase efficiency. Murray says that closing these beds means patients and families will face reduced access to acute care. The ONA members are holding an information picket, and officials from the hospital have not responded to a request for comments.
November 6: A Simcoe nurse fired for inappropriately looking at medical records says she has been made a scapegoat for deficient management practices at Norfolk General Hospital (Simcoe Reformer, November 6, 2015). Nancy Oliveira says she did not realize she had done anything wrong until the disciplinary process began. The Ontario College of Nurses has suspended her license for five months. The hospital says that nurses should understand the policies around patient confidentiality. The respect of privacy is a condition of certification from the College; the Ontario Nurses' Association "also exhorts its members to observe the highest standards of patient confidentiality on a regular basis." At a recent arbitration hearing, Oliveira's ONA representative told the arbitrator that the hospital's rules on privacy and confidentiality at the time of the complaint were "vague and conflicting." The arbitrator noted that the complaint against her "was never proven."
November 4: London Health Sciences Centre plans to close four acute palliative care beds at Victoria Hospital next spring and cut approximately 4,000 hours of RN care (CFPL AM, November 4, 2015). Nurses are expressing their "fierce criticism" of the move, and say it will hurt some of their most vulnerable patients and families. ONA Local 100 Bargaining Unit President James Murray says the cuts are contrary to recommendations included in a review commissioned by LHSC and St. Joseph's Hospital. The review, says Murray, actually recommended an increase in beds. He suggests that chronic palliative and hospice care cannot provide for all the unique care needs of patients in the terminal phase of illnesses. Murray is frustrated by the proposed cuts, and feels London and Middlesex residents deserve better.
November: Seniors Profile (November 2015) reports on nursing cutbacks in hospitals, which are leading to "really disturbing" stories about risks to patient care. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that while the government may say it has hired 24,000 more nurses since 2003, the reality is that there have been 625 RN positions cut this year alone. Haslam-Stroud says the cuts have led to more errors happening in hospitals, and - noting that only the most acutely ill patients are admitted to a bed - says that these patients then find themselves being "kicked out" prematurely. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in some cases at one hospital, understaffing resulted in patients' risk of death increasing by about 25 per cent when they were on a unit understaffed by 10 to 14 nurses over just five days.
November 3: CHML (November 3, 2015) reports that ONA members have re-elected Linda Haslam-Stroud as President. This is her seventh consecutive two-year term representing 60,000 RNs and allied health-care workers.
November 3: ONA members have re-elected Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN as their President (Nurses' Newsline, November 3, 2015). Haslam-Stroud will serve a seventh consecutive two-year term representing 60,000 RNs and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates. She is a renal transplant nurse from Hamilton, active in ONA for 36 years, and held positions at the Local and Bargaining Unit levels before running as Provincial President in 2004. ONA's First Vice-President, Vicki McKenna, RN was also re-elected by members. She will serve a sixth consecutive two-term and is an adult and pediatric day surgery nurse from London. ONA's CEO/CAO Marie Kelly says she is certain that the two RNs "have the clear and strong support of the members. Our membership will be well represented by these two tireless leaders."
October 30: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that the 42 public health nurses do not want to have to strike and are hoping that mediated talks go well (CFCO AM, October 30, 2015). Charlene Stinson says the nurses hope the employer will come back to the table and "respect us" when we meet...and that we'll be able to get a signed collective agreement."
October 30: The "clock is ticking" for nurses working at the public health unit as a strike deadline approaches (CFCO AM, October 30, 2015). Charlene Stinson, a representative of ONA, says that the 42 nurses working for the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit will be in a legal strike position on November 2.
October 29: Dozens of unionized staff at Quinte Health Care will receive their layoff notices as hundreds of people protest hospital cuts at Trenton's Centennial Park (Trenton Trentonian, October 29, 2015). QHC will begin notifying unions on November 12. One day later, SEIU members will be notified of how the cuts will impact their members. That same day, QHC is expected to meet with the Ontario Nurses' Association. It is unknown how many RNs will lose their jobs. Busloads of caregivers and residents from across Ontario are expected to attend the rally, organized by the Ontario Health Coalition.
October 29: Officials at the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit may need to "tighten the purse strings" after the province announced that there will be no increase in base funding for the health unit for a period of five years (Courier Press, October 29, 2015). Chatham-Kent is one of 28 health units across Ontario that will face a funding freeze under the government's new funding model. Dr. April Rietdyk, general manager of Health and Family Services for Chatham-Kent, says that programs and services will not be affected as the health unit tries to cut costs and "find efficiencies." The Chatham-Kent Board of Health has about 95 employees including ONA members who have been without a contract since January 2014.
October 29: Blackburn News (October 29, 2015) reports that Bluewater Health's chief of staff is "disappointed" that the hospital has withdrawn its vaccinate or mask policy. Dr. Mark Taylor says there is a good chance that decision will change, depending on what else happens over the next six to 12 months. Last month, an arbitrator ruled in favour of the Ontario Nurses' Association, agreeing that a similar policy at Sault Area Hospital was meant to coerce nurses into having the influenza vaccine.
October 29: Bluewater Health is putting its vaccine-or-mask policy "on hiatus" this year (Sarnia Observer, October 29, 2015). The hospital's chief of staff says that the hospital will not enforce the mask part of the policy while it waits to see what "developments happen over the next six to 12 months." The decision comes after the Ontario Nurses' Association won an arbitration decision over a similar Sault Area Hospital policy. ONA successfully argued that the policy was meant to shame or coerce nurses into having an influenza vaccine. In addition, there is doubt over whether surgical masks were effective in preventing the spread of flu.
October 28: Layoffs could be coming for those at the Brant County Health Unit as a new funding formula for public health units does not favour smaller rural areas (Brantford Expositor, October 28, 2015). Funding will be frozen until at least 2016 and executive director Jo Ann Tober says she is concerned about "our ability to maintain current staffing levels while at the same time balancing the budget." Two bargaining units of the Ontario Nurses' Association represent almost all staff, except management personnel at the health unit. Collective agreements with ONA expire in the spring of 2017.
October 28: The Ontario Nurses' Association is warning that hospital patients face increasing risks of death because RN positions are being cut across the province (Nurses' Newsline, October 28, 2015). The government insists that patients are being cared for; however, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the reality is that 625 RNs have been cut in Ontario this year, mainly at hospitals. She says that "we know that as they erode these RN positions our patients' chances of dying increase. We don't like to talk about that, but the reality is that's what is happening." Haslam-Stroud it's time to speak in plain language, saying that "I would normally say our patients are transferred out of the intensive care unit, but I'm actually going to tell you they are kicked out of the ICU because we don't have enough nurses."
October 8: As the holiday season approaches, it's thoughtful to remember that for thousands of registered nurses, family-oriented holidays are another day on the front lines providing skilled care for their patients (Parkhill Gazette, October 8, 2015). RNs are on the job when the rest of us are not. They're there 24/7 in every health-care setting. The expertise possessed by RNs is invaluable in any health-care setting. It's worth taking a moment to appreciate the work that is done so tirelessly for all of us. For more information, visit ona.org.
October 27: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has written a letter to the editor to alert the community to the risk of their ER care (Brockville Recorder & Times, October 27, 2015). She writes that a critical shortage of RNs at Brockville General Hospital's ER is a dire situation that has also put the RNs' licenses to practice at risk. "Unsafe RN staffing levels do not allow them to meet standards of care," she says. Haslam-Stroud notes that "unfortunately, hospitals are focused solely on balancing the budget without the appropriate attention given to the consequences for our patients." RNs do not take speaking out lightly, she says, but the time has come for patients to be aware of the risks because of RN understaffing in this department. ONA calls on BGH to put safe patient care first, writes Haslam-Stroud, and asks that residents join the nurses in calling for safe patient care.
October 26: The name of a new campaign from the Ontario Nurses' Association is "The Truth Hurts. Nurses Know" (89.5 The Lake, Kenora, October 26, 2015). The campaign is aimed at making the public more aware of the impact of cuts to the provincial health-care system. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that nurses have an up close and personal view of what's happening and are in a good position to open a dialogue into the issues contributing to the system's decline.
October 23: CFRA AM (October 23, 2015) reports that ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that Ontario is continually cutting RN positions, a total of 1.2-million hours of RN care this year alone. "The RNs of Ontario have been sharing this [provincial financial] pain for some time." She notes that the last number of years, we have seen more than one thousand RN positions cut each year. However, she says it has been well documented that having more RNs care for patients reduces the patients' length of stay, resulting in cost savings. However, "the bean counters are deciding the care that our patients are going to be provided...we get into a situation where it's very, very easy to cut the very people that are caring for the patients because the majority of health-care costs, of course, are the care providers." She notes that patients who are in hospitals are "highly acutely ill, they have comorbidities or a number of different diagnoses, and they're unpredictable outcomes." She says when patients are moved out of hospital into the community too soon, we do not have enough RNs being hired into the community to provide that care."
October 23: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that prolonged cuts to the health-care system have impacted the quality of care (CBC News, October 23, 2015). Both doctors and nurses are raising the alarm over the cuts, though the Health Minister continues to insist that the evidence shows otherwise. Haslam-Stroud says nurses talk about horror stories, and explains that patients suffer an increased risk of pneumonia, blood clots and even death as RN cuts occur -- more than 600 in Ontario since January.
October 23: Norfolk News (October 23, 2015) reports that most Ontario addiction and mental health nurses are paid $44 an hour -- but not those in Haldimand-Norfolk. The most that the 23 nurses and social workers employed by Community Addiction and Mental Health Services of Haldimand and Norfolk (CAMHS) can earn is $37 an hour. The Ontario Nurses' Association members have been without a contract since March and are threatening to walk off the job next month unless the company improves its current contract offer. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that nurses "do not want to be on strike. They want to be there for their clients. But you know what, enough is enough. You can only be treated as second-class nurses and social workers for so long." ONA is seeking wage parity for these nurses. Particularly galling to ONA is that CAMHS last month reported a $164,000 surplus from 2014 and will return the money to the LHIN. The nurses will be in a legal strike position on November 23. Haslam-Stroud says that arbitration is a possibility.
October 23: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that a "new model of care" at Runnymede Healthcare Centre could cause patients additional suffering (Bloor West Villager, October 23, 2015). ONA says the hospital is poised to cut its RN staffing in half. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says "this is a draconian cut. This is not acceptable. I don't think Ontarians understand. All of the cuts that are happening aren't on peoples' radar, unless they've got a family member receiving care. This affects peoples' quality of life." Raj Sewda, chief nursing officer and privacy officer at Runnymede, says the new model of care is more "efficient and effective." ONA says that research shows that RN cuts increase the risk of patients suffering complications and makes them more susceptible to medication errors. McKenna says that nurses' first concern is always their patients. RN hours will be reduced at Runnymede from 82,000 to 41,000 and this will increase patients' rates of bedsores, ulcers, pneumonia, sepsis, cardiac arrest and even death.
October 26: The Windsor Star (October 26, 2015) reports on ONA's new ad campaign that says patients are at risk from cuts to RNs. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the Liberals may say they have hired 24,000 nurses since first elected in 2003, but the reality is that 625 RNs have been cut this year in Ontario, mainly at hospitals. "We know that as they erode these RN positions our patients' chances of dying increase," she said. "We don't like to talk about that, but the reality is that's what is happening." She notes that patients in hospitals now are more acute, complex and sicker, and "we've reduced the highest skilled level of nurses to care for them." Haslam-Stroud says it's time to speak in plain language. "I would normally say our patients are transferred out of the intensive care unit, but I'm actually going to tell you that they are kicked out of the ICU because we don't have enough nurses." Haslam-Stroud adds that the nursing jobs being cut in hospitals are not moving into the community; as well, she says that "a new 'model of nursing care' is an excuse for the bean counters to make decisions about our patients."
October 22: The Ontario Nurses' Association warns that hospital patients' care is being compromised as registered nursing positions are cut across the province (Canadian Press picked up by CBC, Hamilton Spectator, The Sudbury Star, The Kingston Whig-Standard, CTV News London, Global News, Ottawa Community News, insideHalton.com, Caledon Enterprise, London Community News, Northumberland News, October 22 and 23, 2015). The government insists that patients are being cared for and adds that the health-care system is in a period of "transition" as care moves out from more expensive hospitals into home and community-based settings. The union disagrees. "The reality is these positions are not moving into the community for our patients," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "A new model of nursing care is an excuse for the bean counters to make decisions about our patients."
October 23: Dozens of unionized staff at Quinte Health Care (QHC) could lose their jobs on the same day that hundreds of people gather at Trenton's Centennial Park to protest hospital cuts (The Belleville Intelligencer, October 23, 2015). An anonymous source says that QHC will begin notifying unions of layoffs on November 12, starting with physiotherapy and occupational therapy staff who are members of OPSEU. The next day, November 13, SEIU will be notified of cutbacks affecting their members employed in patient registration. QHC is also expected to meet with ONA and Unifor although it is not known how many RNs and personal support workers will be affected. November 13 is also the day that the Ontario Health Coalition and Our TMH are holding a rally to protest ongoing hospital cuts.
October 22: ONA claims that the health of Ontario patients is being put at risk because of nursing cuts at hospitals struggling to balance their budgets (Première Chaîne Toronto, October 22, 2015).
October 22: ONA says that some cuts to RN positions have been done "by stealth" as hospitals choose not to replace nurses who retire or move to other positions, while others are outright layoffs (CFRA AM and CHAS FM, October 22, 2015). Union president Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the positions cut from hospitals are not being created in the community to support home care patients and adds that nurses don't want the lower paying positions outside of hospitals. Premier Kathleen Wynne says that the health-care system is in a period of transition, as hospitals realize they need fewer RNs as the government moves to provide more community-based care.
October 22: ONA warns that cuts to registered nursing positions in hospitals are putting patients at risk (CKNX AM, October 22, 2015). While the Liberals claim to have hired 24,000 more nurses since they were elected in 2003, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that in this year alone, more than 600 RN positions have been cut from hospitals across Ontario.
October 22: The Ontario Nurses' Association was at Queen's Park Thursday morning to launch a new campaign to raise public awareness about the harmful impact of nursing cuts and calling for a moratorium on RN cuts (CFMJ AM, October 22, 2015).
October 22: The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says that 625 RN positions have been cut in Ontario since the start of 2015, and warns that the lost positions -mostly from hospitals- are hurting patient care(Toronto Star and Metro, October 22, 2015). The union says that nursing cutbacks in hospitals have led to "really disturbing" stories including patient deaths in hallways and compromised deliveries of babies. ONA's President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that patients are often kept in the dark about what is going wrong in hospitals. “They don’t know that the reason their insulin was late . . . was because we didn’t have enough RNs that day to care for them. They don’t know that the blood work was missed because we didn’t have enough RNs. They didn’t know their IV blew because we didn’t have an RN there to (monitor)." The union is calling for a moratorium on RN cuts in Ontario and has launched an advertising campaign to raise public awareness of the risks and spread their message. During question period at the legislature NDP Leader Andrea Horwath warned that four years of frozen hospital budgets have taken a toll, leading to Ontario having the second worst RN staffing ratio in Canada and putting patient lives at risk.
October 19: About 42 public health nurses and nurse practitioners will hold an information picket Monday afternoon (Queen's Park Briefing, October 19, 2015). The Ontario Nurses' Association members say they will be at Chatham Memorial Centre to press their demands for a new contract. ONA says that the nurses are among the lowest-paid in the province and have been working without a contract since December 31, 2013.
October 22: Linda Haslam-Stroud writes in the Simcoe Reformer (October 22, 2015) that violence in the workplace is alive and well at Norfolk General Hospital. The ONA President writes that nurses face being kicked, bitten, punched and spit on, as well as verbally abused on a daily basis. In Ontario, nurses and other health-care workers are at high risk of workplace abuse. Studies show that nurses are three times more likely than other professional groups to face workplace violence and are more ill and injured than even police and firefighters. The issue is on the increase due to cuts to staff, beds and services that have left patients and their families increasingly frustrated. The real travesty is that our skilled, dedicated and hard-working nurses are facing an increase in violence. That may be about to change, following the formation of a violence roundtable by the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care as well as Labour. The Ontario Nurses' Association is at the table and helping to oversee the development of solutions to end workplace violence. For the first time, there is a firm government commitment and an acknowledgement that nurses' work-lives need to change to eradicate violence. We know as nurses that if we are safe, our patients are safe too. Two things would go a long way to ending violence: 1) adequate nurse staffing levels, and 2) a zero-tolerance policy and enforcement by employers. This will enable nurses to focus their full attention on providing quality patient care.
October 20: Ontario Nurses' Association First VP Vicki McKenna says that Public Health Nurses with Chatham-Kent's health unit are reminding the public of their value (Nurses Newsline, October 20, 2015). The nurses were leafleting in the community in their efforts to increase awareness of their role.
October 20: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that providing high-quality, universal health care is crucial for a fair and thriving Ontario (Nurses Newsline, October 20, 2015). ONA is launching a Petition for Better Care as part of a new awareness campaigned called, "The Truth Hurts: Nurses Know." ONA says that years of hospital underfunding have resulted in cuts to RNs and negative impacts on patients. In 2015 alone, Ontario lost more than one million hours of RN care due to cuts, including the news on Tuesday that Runnymede Healthcare Centre is slashing its nursing resources in half. Cutting skilled nursing care increases the risk of patients suffering more complications, readmissions and death, costing the system more. ONA is calling on the government to implement a moratorium on RN cuts, commit to restoring hospital base operating funding to at least cover the costs of inflation and population growth, creating a multi-year health human resources plan to bring Ontario's ratio of RNs to population up to the national average, and ensuring hospitals have the resources to provide safe, quality and integrated care.
October 19: Chatham-Kent Public Health Nurses are taking their contract dispute to the streets (Blackburn Radio, October 19, 2015). Ontario Nurses' Association First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says members are handing out leaflets and reminding the public of how much they do for the community. The 41 nurses have been without a contract since the end of 2013. McKenna says that Public Health Nurses are the "disease surveillance people, they're the ones at immunization clinics, they're the ones assisting with the school immunizations..." She says Public Health Nurses are also working with new moms and babies, and running parenting classes.
October 20: The Ontario Nurses' Association's challenge of immunize-or-mask policies now means that Saskatchewan's health-care employees can voluntarily decide to immunize or mask this flu season (Star Phoenix, October 20, 2015). Last year, workers either had to do one or another. An Ontario arbitrator sided with ONA in the dispute, calling the policy that forced unvaccinated nurses to wear a mask "coercive."
October 20: A letter to the editor of the Brockville Recorder and Times (October 20, 2015) notes that ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has raised concerns about readmission rates to Brockville General Hospital. Hospital chair Neil Bhatt writes that ONA indicates that the cut of 17 full- and part-time RNs likely contributed to the rise in readmission rates, but this needs "clarity." He writes that not all readmissions are avoidable. He adds that the RNs were not cut in July, they were given five months' notice as per ONA's collective agreement. Bhatt writes that the board must adapt to changing funding formulas, balance its budget and deliver safe, quality care. "At no time are decisions made that risk the health or safety of our patients," he says.
October 16: Nursing students in Canada are being "tripped up" by American terminology in a new RN exam, particularly French-speaking RN students (Daily Brew, October 16, 2015). Canadian nursing students must now pass the NCLEX RN exam in order to practice. The exam uses U.S.-based terminology and the prep materials are only available in English. Canadian nursing schools believe that Canadian RNs should be tested using Canadian requirements. Pass rates here have been below the average. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that some of the test questions involve medications not approved for use in Canada. The new exam uses both metric and imperial measures. The Canadian Nurses Association declined to comment.
October 17: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that police in Haldimand and Norfolk "could have their hands full" if nurses of a local Bargaining Unit strike (Simcoe Reformer, October 17, 2015). ONA Local 7 represents 23 nurses and social workers at the Community Addiction & Mental Health Services of Haldimand and Norfolk (CAMHS). The ONA members have been without a contract since March 31 and may be off the job next month is progress isn't made. ONA's president joined an information picket in Simcoe last week, and says her members are overworked and underpaid. Local 7 members provide in-home care and crisis care to nearly 850 people with mental health and addiction issues in Haldimand and Norfolk. Haslam-Stroud says if there is a strike, clients could make their presence felt. "Police will be getting a lot more calls," says Haslam-Stroud. "Unfortunately, if we don't end up with an agreement, these people will wind up in the street and in our emergency wards." ONA recently discovered that CAMHS had a $164,000 surplus in its most recent fiscal year; rather than spend it on wages, additional staff or improved working conditions, the facility remitted the money to the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN. The workers have a strike date of November 23.
October 16: A new U.S. exam that uses American terminology and mixes imperial and metric measurements is "tripping up" Canadian nursing students (Ottawa Citizen, Meridian Booster, Windsor Star, October 16, 2015). Ontario Nurses' Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says "We've had really disgusting pass rates through, I believe, no fault of the nursing students. I believe it's the fault of the exam and our regulators in putting forward an exam that's not based on our curriculum and not based on the prep material they used." Canadian RNs used to have to write the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination in order to be accredited. The College of Nurses of Ontario and other regulatory bodies have switched the exam; very little of the prep material for the exam is available in French, and one nursing educator says "it looks like they used Google Translate" to translate the exam into French.
October 14: A report on CFRA Radio Ottawa says that federal candidates keep promising to strengthen health care (October 14, 2015). However, host Lowell Green says that health care "is strictly a provincial responsibility" not a federal one. According to an editorial in the Sun newspaper, the Ontario Nurses' Association says that 1,743 RN positions have disappeared in Ontario in the past three years. Ontario's population grows by about 140,000 each year. Lowell says that Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau promises to strengthen health care, then is photographed "cuddling up to Kathleen Wynne, who is cutting health care."
October 1: When we celebrate Labour Day, many don't give a thought to how the long weekend came to be (Dorchester Signpost, October 1, 2015). Since we value our good health, why not let RNs shed some light on the value of this tribute to labour? RNs in Ontario are members of the Ontario Nurses' Association, and educated to speak out and advocate for their patients' safety. They note that Canada has celebrated Labour Day since the 1880s, when Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald repealed the country's "barbarous" anti-union laws, enabling unions to be a driving force for workers' rights, health and safety laws, and even the creation of the weekend. For more information, contact ona.org/RNs.
October 1: Registered nurses are one female-dominated profession that stands out for its long and proud history, as Canada celebrates Women's History Month (The Bullet, October 1, 2015). RNs have been central to the health-care of patients for more than 350 years. In the 19th century, nurses brought health care to frontier settlers and sent medical missionaries across the country. The first nursing school was founded in Ontario in 1874. As nurses were required to have higher education, their responsibilities have expanded and specialized. Now, RNs can be found working in every health-care sector, in private industry and the armed forces. They are highly educated and skilled caregivers who help to reduce death and disease rates for their patients. RNs are skilled patient advocates and are invaluable in any health-care setting. For more information, visit ona.org/RNs.
October 14: Public health nurses working for Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit will be distributing leaflets and conducting an email campaign to educate the community (Chatham Daily News, October 14, 2015). The nurses face a possible strike, and will be in the community on October 23 and 24. The 42 public health nurses and nurse practitioners will speak to the public about issues they are facing and the impact on the community should they be forced to strike. The Ontario Nurses' Association members have been without a contract since December 2013.
October 12: As budgets tighten, front-line workers including doctors and nurses become "convenient targets" for Ontario's premier and the health-minister (Toronto Sun, October 12, 2015). "Only health-care bureaucrats -- those six-figure administrators who have zip to do with front-line care at the bloated Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) -- seem to be thriving in Wynne's Ontario." Sue-Ann Levy writes that it is "absurd" for the government to be planning another level of health-care bureaucracy in Patient Care Groups even as ONA reports more than 600 nursing positions have been cut in Ontario so far this year.
October 11: A "controversial" report commissioned by the provincial Liberals suggests that Ontarians go through a "new form of bureaucracy" called a Patient Care Group (PCG) when trying to access a family physician or GP (Toronto Sun, October 11, 2015). The Price report was obtained by the government last November but has not yet been officially released. ONA's First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the union has received "bits and pieces" but hasn't seen the whole report.
October 13: Public health nurses from the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit will be leafleting and conducting an email campaign to raise public awareness as they head towards a possible strike (The Daily News, October 13, 2015). The 42 nurses who are members of the Ontario Nurses' Association have been without a contract since 2013. The first round of leafleting will take place on Wednesday outside the all-candidates' meeting in Chatham from 6:15 p.m. until 7:15 p.m.
October 9: A letter to the editor of the Brantford Expositor (October 9, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the 23 RNs and social workers seeking a new contract with Haldimand-Norfolk Community Addiction and Mental Health Services are grateful for the media coverage of their situation. Haslam-Stroud adds that these clinicians are specially trained to provide vital mental health and addiction services to their patients. While they do work in their patients' homes, however, they are not part of the provincial home-care system. She urges their employer to step up to the plate and bargain.
October 7: Victoria Hospital in London plans to downsize its palliative care unit as part of a "shift in resources," (London Free Press, October 7, 2015). According to the nurses' union, this will put patients at risk. Staffing for four of 14 palliative care beds is being cut, and resources shifted to Parkwood Hospital. James Murray, RN, president of ONA Local 100, says that nurses fear patients will suffer in this shuffle. He says that home care doesn't provide round-the-clock support and neither the hospice nor Parkwood can look after all the needs that those who are dying may have. Murray says the nurses fear that Victoria may fill part of the wing that houses the palliative ward with dementia patients or those with behavioral problems. "That's the last thing people who are dying need to hear," he said.
October 7: A letter to the editor of the Brockville Recorder & Times (October 7, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the South East LHIN, government and employer need to "take a good hard look at the evidence regarding the astronomical increase in patient readmission rates at Brockville General Hospital." The hospital cut 17 RNs in July, likely contributing to the increased rate. She notes that cutting 17 RNs is the loss of more than 16,000 hours of direct, hands-on RN care and research shows the devastating impact of RN cuts on our patients. Conversely, the evidence also shows that increasing RN care reduces readmission rates and results in better patient health outcomes. LHIN CEO Paul Huras may want to dig a bit deeper as to the real root cause of increased readmission rates -- the funding freeze that has resulted in cuts to RN care, cuts to beds and cuts to services. Nurses know Ontario needs more RNs, not fewer. The truth hurts.
October 7: A letter to the editor of the Simcoe Reformer (October 7, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the 23 registered nurses and social workers seeking a new contract with Haldimand-Norfolk Community Addiction and Mental Health Services appreciate the coverage from the Reformer, and would like to help clear up any confusion regarding what they do. Known as clinicians, the workers are specially trained to care for patients with mental health and addictions issues, and provide special geriatric care for those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Haslam-Stroud says that while it may seem confusing, the clinicians work in people's homes but are not employed by the home-care system's CCACs. The work our clinicians do is highly specialized and sought-after, yet their employer has been reluctant to negotiate a new agreement and they have been without a contract for almost two years. Haslam-Stroud says the 23 clinicians are working hard to avoid being forced to strike and are trying to negotiate a fair contract that brings their working conditions and wages up to par with others in their field. It's time for the employer to step up to the plate and negotiate.
October 2: A letter to the editor of the London Free Press (October 2, 2015) says that just one Conservative party candidate agreed to attend an all-candidates' meeting out of the 11 invitations issued for the debates. Patricia Patterson writes that the London meeting, sponsored by the Ontario Nurses' Association, RNAO and Ontario Health Coalition, will see nurses asking candidates about the Canada Health Accord which expired in 2014. She believes that Stephen Harper does not want the candidates talking about health care and the cut of an estimated $36 billion over 10 years that Bill C-38 is responsible for.
October 2: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the number of full-time jobs available in the U.S. is one reason why Ontario nurses are looking to work there (Windsor Star, October 2, 2015). "Unfortunately in Ontario," she said, "the full-time positions are being reduced." Haslam-Stroud was commenting on another effort by Detroit recruiters to lure Ontario RNs across the border to work at Henry Ford Health System. Recruiters came to Sarnia this time after a successful recruiting stop in Windsor this summer. Haslam-Stroud says that since January, 588 RNs have been cut in Ontario. She also noted that American hospitals provide very enhanced support for education, for those nurses wanting to continue to excel in their careers.
October 1: A small crowd at the Sarnia library heard from three federal candidates this week (The Sarnia Observer, October 1, 2015). There were accusations over the government's treatment of veterans, concerns over the transfer of health-care funding to the provinces and the privatization of health care, but Conservative candidate Marilyn Gladu declined the invitation to attend the debate. Shirley Roebuck, head of the Sarnia-Lambton chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, organized the event in partnership with Ontario Nurses' Association Local 19 and the Sarnia-Lambton branch of the RNAO. Roebuck rejects the reasoning of Gladu, noting that the federal government is responsible for an array of direct health care services for Canadians.
October 1: In a letter to the editor in The North Bay Nugget (October 1, 2015), ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that while ONA agrees with the editorial that says universal health care is impossible "on the cheap," it is ironic that at least part of the misery of North Bay patients is due to the financing of the new building. Publicly financed, built and maintained hospitals in Ontario are far less expensive than those built under the P3 scheme, as North Bay Regional Health Centre was, and this is as at least partially responsible for the drastic cuts. The 30-year contract handed to the private sector to maintain the hospital must be paid, whether there is funding for it or not. North Bay residents are absolutely entitled to ask why the hospital was built, and why it was built in a manner that handed millions to for-profit companies for decades. Residents will have fewer beds, fewer RNs and allied health professionals to care for them, and fewer services. Haslam-Stroud writes that RNs are the backbone of health care, and the loss of so many RNs from North Bay means patients are at greater risk for suffering complications and even death. Haslam-Stroud urges the people of North Bay to speak out -- loudly -- to their elected officials to preserve the care they need and deserve.
September 30: Haldimand-Norfolk Community Addiction and Mental Health Services RNs and social workers could be walking the picket line by mid-October. (Stratford Beacon-Herald, September 30, 2015). The Ontario Nurses' Association members will hold an information picket in Jarvis this week.
September 29: In an interview with ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, CHCD FM radio (September 29, 2015) reports that the nurses and social workers at Haldimand and Norfolk CAMHS could go on strike. Haslam-Stroud says that just about every listener will have someone in their family with some mental health issues. She notes that about 25 per cent of the population will suffer from depression in their lifetime. "Our nurses and social workers are supporting not only our patients and clients in the community, but also supporting the families that are trying to also support their loved ones," she said.
September 29: Nurses' Newsline (September 29, 2015) reports that the Ontario Nurses' Association is angered following another violent attack on a nurse at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Group. ONA says the employer is failing to protect its workers.
September 30: Ontario Nurses' Association members working for the Haldimand-Norfolk Community Addiction & Mental Health Services have held an information picket (Sarnia Observer, September 30, 2015). The 23 RNs and social workers are heading to conciliation to try to reach a new agreement and avoid a strike.
September 29: Flu season is almost here, and that means that many nurses working in U.S. hospitals and clinics must have an influenza vaccine (WNG.Org, September 29, 2015). Those who refuse to do so may be asked to wear a surgical mask for the entire flu season, or even be fired. In Canada, the Ontario Nurses' Association recently won the right for nurses to work without the vaccines or masks after an arbitrator ruled that a hospital's "vaccinate or mask" policy was a "coercive tool." Those opposed to masking policies say research has not shown the masks are reliable in preventing the spread of the virus. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that the employer was "basically coercing and shaming nurses into getting the influenza vaccine if they individually chose not to take it. They made them all wear masks and they had little stickers on their nametag that everyone knew meant, 'I don't have my vaccine'." In the U.S., National Nurses United has opposed mandatory flu shot mandates, saying they engender distrust and resistance among employees.
September 29: Twenty-three RNs and social workers at Haldimand-Norfolk Community Addiction and Mental Health Services have been without a contract since March and will attend conciliation in an attempt to avoid a strike (Simcoe Reformer, September 29, 2015). The Ontario Nurses' Association members held an information picket in Jarvis this week to press their case for a wage increase and better working conditions. Anne Clark, an ONA VP, said that the nurses need time to properly do the patient visits they make to meet their patients' needs. The nurses and social workers make in-home visits of 850 patients, many of them seniors suffering from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Clark says their workplace conditions are substandard, making it difficult to attract and retain workers. "Our members are trying very hard to avoid a strike," said Clark. "They know it will hurt their patients."
September 29: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that violence against health-care workers by aggressive patients continues to be an issue (OH&S Canada, September 29, 2015). ONA reports that another nurse was attacked at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre on September 10, the same unit where three nurses were beaten in June 2012. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the union has been trying to improve the safety situation at this centre for a long time. "We have been...trying to get this employer to step up to the plate and do the right thing," she said. "We've gone to them with recommendations. The front-line staff have been really involved in that, and they're just not expecting someone to fix this for them." McKenna says that nurses are going into situations and don't have "equipment they need, they don't have the staff they need, they don't have those things in place there, and so they're really in a vulnerable situation, as are other patients and visitors." She believes that if this were happening in another work setting, it would not be tolerated. McKenna adds that this and other facilities are devoting their budgets to legally defending themselves after an incident instead of "spending money on what really matters." The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre is facing charges of failing to protect workers over the 2012 incident.
September 29: Recruiters from Detroit's Henry Ford Health System set up shop in Sarnia yesterday following a successful visit to Windsor last summer (Sarnia Observer, September 29, 2015). The recruiters are looking for RNs with experience to work in their hospital, especially in the critical care unit, ER, labour and delivery and surgical units. Recruiter Natasha Milosavlevski said they are looking to attract "as many [RNs] as we can get" from Sarnia. She knows it's hard for RNs to find a full-time job in Canada and adds that the exchange rate is in their favour. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that "unfortunately in Ontario, the full-time positions are being reduced" in hospitals. Since January, 588 RN positions have been cut. She also notes that the "American hospitals provide very enhanced support for educational purposes, for nurses who are wanting to continue excelling in their careers."
September 17: In Ontario, a dedicated group of RNs are working in Public Health specifically to focus on keeping our kids and our community healthy (foodtube.net, September 17, 2015). These nurses are part of a network of RNs who provide highly skilled services and care, making RNs invaluable in any health-care setting. Public health nurses know there is a strong connection between environmental factors and health, and teach our kids about how to practice good health habits. In addition to running immunization clinics, offering counseling and sexual health programs for teenagers, public health nurses have expertise when kids need help with speech, language, hearing or vision issues. The Healthy Schools program works to ensure overall fitness, well-being and proper nutrition. As kids go back to school, it's good to know there are skilled and educated health advocates on our side. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
September 17: Ontarians are lucky to have access to care coordinators working in our CCACs (Burlington Post, InsideHalton.com, September 17, 2015) who can help us determine if and when a parent needs extra help to stay well. For the "sandwich generation" caring for both parents and their children, this kind of assistance can make the difference. Care coordinators are highly trained and educated to assess their patients and determine the type and extent of care and assistance they may need. Their expertise is why some say they are an invaluable asset. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
September 17: As the holiday season approaches, it's thoughtful to remember that for thousands of RNs, family-oriented holidays are another day on the front lines providing skilled care for their patients (foodtube.net, September 17, 2015). RNs are on the job when the rest of us are not. They are there 24/7 in health care settings such as our hospitals, long-term care facilities and home and community care. Simply stated, the expertise of an RN is invaluable in any health-care setting. In Ontario, we are fortunate to have access to their care, so this Thanksgiving, it is worth taking a moment to appreciate the work that is done so tirelessly for all of us.
September 26: Doug Millroy's Sault Star (September 26, 2015) writes that his column last week generated an email from Dr. Michael Gardam, one of the experts that ONA used in its fight against Sault Area Hospital's vaccine-or-mask policy. Gardam agrees with Millroy's opinion that hospitals have arbitrarily come up with a new policy rather than consulting. Gardam says he too has been frustrated by the issue and hopes that now "we can start to have open conversations." He notes that rather than developing policies through debate, policies have been adopted in Canada "by stifling debate, typically in the name of patient safety; however, as the arbitrator concluded, these policies have little to do with safety." The infectious disease expert also notes that a big issue is encouraging people to come to work when ill; he notes that if "masking people who are well works to prevent the spread of flu, then the decision of these hospitals to not require vaccinated staff to mask last year when we knew the effectiveness of the vaccine was zero is frankly indefensible." Gardam takes the media to task for suggesting that "this is about nurses putting themselves before their patients" -- calling it spin used to sell the policy. In fact, he says, "the reason nurses speak out about this policy is because first and foremost, it doesn't make sense. And to add insult to injury, they were being forced to comply with an illogical policy." Gardam's recommendation for stopping the spread of flu is "first and foremost, we should stop coming to work while ill." In addition, while Gardam encourages vaccination of health-care workers, he believes that "by no means" should we rely on it.
September 21: ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the union still has concerns about the insufficient security and safety measures at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (CBC News Radio 1, September 21, 2015). McKenna says that this employer must take these violent incidents more seriously and provide more support staff. "These situations are not something that are going to go away," she said. "We have to be prepared for them, and do everything we can to ensure the safety of both the staff and the patients and visitors." This is not the first time there have been problems at the facility; the Ministry of Labour laid three charges against the organization under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 2012; last year, the ministry laid more charges after an incident at its Brockville site in which a nurse was stabbed in the throat by a patient.
September 21: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that a recent incident at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre has renewed its calls for more safety measures (CBC News Ottawa, September 21, 2015). ONA's VP says that a nurse was beaten by an agitated patient on September 10 and Royal staff have told ONA that they are worried for their safety on the job. ONA wants the Ministry of Labour to send inspectors to the hospital so they can make recommendations that would improve the security and safety of staff.
September 23: ONA is accusing an Ottawa-based mental health care group of failing to protect its workers after a health-care worker was beaten in a violent attack by an agitated patient earlier this month (Ottawa Citizen, September 23, 2015). The attack took place in the same unit where three workers were previously badly beaten by another patient. That incident led to charges being laid by the Ministry of Labour for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Meanwhile, the trial resumes in November. The hospital faces similar charges in another attack at its Brockville site in which a nurse was stabbed in the throat by a patient. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that "These assaults can't continue like this. Obviously, these can be very volatile situations, but if the workers are kept safe, then it's safe for everyone, including the patients." McKenna says the hospital needs to step up security rather than spend money fighting the Ministry charges. "The last thing nurses want to do is blame their patients," she added, saying that adequate staffing, better security, panic alarms and improved video surveillance can all reduce risk.
September 19: An opinion editorial in the Sarnia Observer (September 22, 2015) asks why -- in the ongoing debate related to the influenza vaccine-or-mask issue -- are nurses being singled out? If nurses are subject to this practice, why shouldn't everyone else follow the same protocol, including patients, family members and all visitors. The piece notes that symptomatic people do come to hospitals every day; they use washrooms, patient registration, coffee shops and gift shops on their way to their final destinations. ONA won the arbitration award against Sault Area Hospital, notes the piece, and the arbitrator, James Hayes, said that there was "scant evidence that masks reduced the transmission of influenza to patients."
September 11: In Ontario, a dedicated group of RNs work in public health specifically to focus on ways to keep our kids and the community healthy (medicalnewstoday.com, September 11, 2015). Public health nurses are part of the network of RNs who provide highly skilled services and care. With their special training, these RNs are there to provide education and services -- they also teach kids the strong connection between health and environmental factors, and educate them about good health practices. As children go back to class, it's good to know these skilled and educated health advocates are on our side. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
September 21: Canadian Lawyer Magazine (September 21, 2015) has reported on the arbitration decision on the vaccine-or-mask policy. ONA had grieved the policy as an "unreasonable exercise" of management rights and the arbitrator's 136-page decision demonstrates how hotly debated the issue was. Numerous experts provided their opinions over 18 days of hearings; the arbitrator ruled in ONA's favour. Rosen Sunshine LLP's Elyse Sunshine said that she thinks "hospitals in Ontario really do have to pay attention to this case and its implications." She says the arbitrator placed much of the weight on the evidence heard, and placed a greater weight on the evidence of the Ontario Nurses' Association. The arbitrator, she notes, also said that the "mask requirement amounts to compulsory disclosure of personal health information." Sunshine says that by making nurses self-identify as vaccinated or not, "you are breaching their privacy." Gardiner Roberts LLP partner Lad Kucis notes that there was insufficient medical evidence that asymptomatic people play any significant role in the transmission of the flu, or that masks reduce the spread.
September 19: Doug Millroy's Sault Star column (September 19, 2015) says that he is having some trouble "coming down on either side of the dispute between the hospital and its nurses" regarding the vaccinate or mask issue. He notes that local ONA president Glenda Hubley is "very pleased" with the ruling, and the hospital -- one of 30 in the province with the policy -- says it is "disappointed." ONA provided experts who testified that forcing healthy nurses to don masks during the influenza season did little or nothing to prevent transmission of the virus. An Internet search reveals some who find that surgical masks can help fight transmission of the virus. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that the hospital was basically coercing and shaming nurses into getting the influenza vaccine. Dr. Michael Gardam said that the policy made private medical health information public. Millroy writes that rather than just imposing something else on the nurses, all stakeholders should get together to discuss the issue.
September 19: The new exam that nurses must pass to be licensed is "unfairly" penalizing Canadians by being too U.S.-focused (Toronto Sun, September 19, 2015). The body that licenses new nurses contracted out the exam to a U.S. body. The American exam, the NCLEX-RN, has caused a huge failure rate for Canadians, 20 per cent in Ontario alone. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the exam is "very concerning.. It's a U.S.-based exam and initially we understood the exam would be written in Canada or would be Canadianized and would relate to the Canadian health-care system, which is fundamentally different from the U.S. system," she said. Medications sometimes have different names in the two countries; math in the exam is in imperial measure although Canada has used the metric system for more than three decades. The College of Nurses of Ontario says that NCLEX "is a nursing exam." Anne Coghlan says that the exam is "assessing nursing knowledge. The concern that it's an American test is not founded and it does not contain American content." The Sun's Christina Blizzard writes that "Canadian nurses are valued and respected around the world for their skills and training. It seems odd that suddenly -- practically overnight -- they're not up to par." She writes that she suspects that it's "time to go back to the drawing board with this exam."
September 16: Conciliation talks between public health nurses and the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit have started (CFCO AM, September 16, 2015). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that these "are the folks that monitor infectious disease...maintain our wellness in our communities." McKenna says that strike action remains a possibility.
September 16: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that strike action "while not planned at this point, could still happen" in Chatham-Kent (CFCO AM, September 16, 2015). Public health nurses have been without a contract since the end of 2013 and ONA is "trying to get a deal done" for them. McKenna notes that public health nurses do not have binding arbitration available to them, unlike nurses working in other health-care sectors.
September 16: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that strike action is one option for a group of public health nurses working for the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (CFCO AM, September 16, 2015). The 41 nurses have been without a contract since the end of 2013. McKenna says that "now is the time to get this finished."
September 10: South Asian Focus (September 10, 2015) reports that nurses are central to the history of women in Canada. October is Women's History Month -- RNs have been part of one female-dominated profession that stands out for its long and proud history. Augustine nuns established the very first medical mission -- which later evolved into Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Quebec City -- 350 years ago. In the 1800s, nurses provided health care to frontier settlers and sent medical missionaries across Canada. St. Catharines, Ontario is the site of the first formal nurse training program. By the 1960s, education requirements for nurses were much higher and their responsibilities expanded and specialized. Today, RNs can be found working in every health-care sector, private industry and even the armed forces. Appreciating the role of RNs is vital as the population ages. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
September 8: As people around the world celebrate Labour Day, registered nurses can shine a light on how this long weekend came to be (City-data.com, September 8, 2015). RNs are patient advocates. They note that Labour Day has been celebrated in Canada since the 1880s, when Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald repealed the country's "barbarous" anti-union laws and passed the Trade Unions Act. They note that unions have been the driving force for workers' rights, health and safety laws and even the weekend, ever since. As members of the Ontario Nurses' Association, RNs are educated to speak out against anything that threatens patients' health, safety and care. Ontario is a province with a network of highly skilled and highly educated RNs working to provide the health care we all need. Their expertise and abilities are celebrated each Labour Day. Simply stated, these patient advocates are invaluable in any health-care setting.
September 17: A letter to the editor of the Sarnia Observer (September 17, 2015) says that the author, retired nurse Shirley Roebuck, was "disgusted and appalled" that local Conservative candidate Marilyn Gladu declined an invitation to participate in an upcoming debate on health care. Roebuck writes that Gladu told her that health care is "a provincial issue." The letter says that any candidate should have a working knowledge of federal responsibilities. "Ms Gladu has exhibited a shallowness and a lack of empathy and compassion towards the constituents of the Sarnia-Lambton riding," writes Roebuck. She then lists the areas of responsibility of the federal government for health care and notes the issues that will be debated. Roebuck also writes that the debate, sponsored by the Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition, the Ontario Nurses' Association Local 19 and the Sarnia-Lambton Chapter of the RNAO, is an example of three health care groups are "coming together to educate about the federal government's role in public health care."
September 16: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit nurses may strike if a new agreement with their employer is not reached (Blackburn Radio, September 16, 2015). ONA says that staff remain at the conciliation table, waiting for the next offer. Provincial Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the ONA members don't have a timeline for any labour action. "Unless they give any indication that there's nowhere else to go, then we'll stay there as long as we need to," she said. "Now is the time to get this finished." McKenna says that public health nurses play a huge role in health-care. "These are folks who monitor infectious disease, these are the health promotion people; they maintain the wellness of our communities and are dedicated to clinics, newborn babies and their mothers."
September 14: Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit nurses are in conciliation as they try to bargain a new contract (Queen's Park Briefing, September 14, 2015). The ONA members have been without a contract since December, 2013. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the nurses excel at what they do, and these "highly educated nurses" work to keep community members healthy. "Despite this, they continue to be among the lowest-paid public health nurses in the entire province. This is shameful, especially in a community where the rates of health challenges are so high." She calls on the employer to recognize the value of public health nurses and treat them with the respect they deserve.
September 15: Bluewater Health's "lead doctor" says that an arbitrator's decision to strike down the vaccine-or-mask policy at one Ontario hospital will have implications for the policy at his hospital (Sarnia Observer, September 15, 2015). Dr. Mark Taylor says he doesn't know exactly what the decision means, saying that it is being "carefully analyzed by ourselves and by the Ontario Hospital Association." The decision is a victory for the Ontario Nurses' Association. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that, "the vaccinate-or-mask policies have been highly criticized as a symbolic rather than scientifically based tool in the fight against influenza."
September 11: Bluewater Health nurses will no longer have to wear a surgical mask if they don't have an influenza vaccine (CHOK AM Sarnia, September 11, 2015). An arbitrator has struck down the controversial policy introduced at 30 Ontario hospitals. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that 18 of the hospitals have agreed to abide by the decision. Arbitrator Jim Hayes found the policy to be unreasonable and coercive, and that the unfitted mask was not an effective measure for patient safety.
September 11: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has told CFPL AM London that an arbitrator's decision means that nurses who do not have an influenza vaccine can no longer be forced to wear a surgical mask for the entire flu season (September 11, 2015). "The arbitrator has come to the conclusion that the mask is not protecting the patient," she said.
September 14: A letter to the editor of the London Free Press (September 14, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the striking down of the vaccinate-or-mask policy came after persuasive testimony from a number of highly regarded experts in their fields. Experts found that masking was ineffective against stopping the spread of influenza, and the Sault Area Hospital's own chief medical officer of health and chief nursing officer did not support their hospital's policy. The arbitrator's decision was made with the aid of voluminous scientific evidence. The first priority of nurses remains the safety of our patients, says Haslam-Stroud.
September 10: ONA has won a "precedent-setting arbitration award that strikes down the so-called vaccinate or mask policy" (CKGL AM Kitchener-Waterloo, CBC Radio 1 London, CBC Radio 1 Windsor, CKLW AM Windsor, CKNX-AM Wingham, CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, CFTR AM Toronto, CHML Hamilton, CFPL AM London, CHOK-AM Sarnia, CBC News Sudbury, CFZM AM Toronto, September 10, 2015). The controversial policy forced nurses and other health-care workers to wear an unfitted surgical mask for the entire flu season if they did not receive the influenza vaccine. ONA says the arbitrator found the policy to be unreasonable and a coercive tool.
September 10: ONA says that health-care workers who "do not get the flu shot" can no longer be forced to wear surgical masks for the entire flu season (CKLW AM Windsor, September 10, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that this was about the employers wanting "to get their immunization rates up. And so what they did was they were basically coercing and shaming nurses into getting the influenza vaccine if they individually chose not to take it. The arbitrator has come to the conclusion that the mask is not protecting the patient."
September 12: ONA Local 46 President Glenda Hubley says that she is "very pleased that now my nurses have the right to make a choice of getting the [influenza] vaccine or not" (Sault Star, September 12, 2015). Hubley is referring to the vaccinate-or-mask policy struck down by an arbitrator this week. Some 30 Ontario hospitals implemented the policy, which forced nurses and other workers to wear unfitted surgical masks for the entire flu season if they did not receive an influenza vaccine. ONA contends that Sault Area Hospital -- the "test" case in the arbitration hearing -- tried to use the policy to bolster staff immunization rates. Hubley says it is truly a right to decide whether to vaccinate or not, and "I shouldn't have to be coerced or punished and have to wear a mask if I choose not to." Experts testified that it was illogical to force healthy nurses to wear masks. Additionally, arbitrator Jim Hayes branded the policy "unreasonable" and a "coercive tool" to strong-arm staff into being vaccinated. ONA experts testified that forcing healthy nurses to wear an unfitted surgical mask for up to six months a year did little or nothing to prevent transmission of the virus in hospitals. Hayes also concluded that masks were not protecting patients or nurses from the flu. SAH chief of staff Dr. Heather O'Brien indicated that she declined to participate on the hospital's influenza committee "as she does not agree or support the policy change." Hubley notes that the top clinical people at SAH did not support the policy as there was no evidence that it would improve patient outcomes.
September 10: The union representing Ontario nurses has won a "precedent-setting" arbitration award against the Sault Area Hospital which "quashes the vaccinate-or-mask policy" (Queen's Park Briefing, September 10, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says 30 out of the 150 hospitals in Ontario where ONA members work had this policy in place. So far, 18 out of the 30 have agreed to abide by the arbitration decision. ONA will meet with the remainder and try to get them to abide by the decision as well. Haslam-Stroud calls it a landmark decision, "that is going to impact more than the nurses that we represent as ONA -- this will actually impact, I believe, the other health-care workers that have been coerced and forced into this draconian penalizing measure as well." She says the policy was an unreasonable exercise of management rights and a breach of employee privacy rights. Arbitrator James Hayes wrote that "the weight of scientific evidence said to support the VOM policy on patient safety grounds is insufficient to warrant the imposition of a mask-wearing requirement for up to six months." Haslam-Stroud says that unvaccinated nurses already take enough precaution by not working with patients in flu outbreak areas designated by the medical officer of health. "At the end of the day, we will continue our normal infection control practices in each of the units," she said.
September 11: Bluewater Health nurses will no longer be required to wear a mask if they don't have an influenza vaccination (Sarnia Radio, September 11, 2015). After 18 days of hearings, an arbitrator has struck down the controversial "vaccine or mask" policy at many Ontario hospitals. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that Bluewater Health was one of 30 hospitals that was "coercing" nurses into wearing masks if they had not taken the influenza vaccine, and the ruling will be a relief to them. The arbitrator found the policy to be unreasonable and said the unfitted masks were not an effective measure for patient safety.
September 10: The Ontario Nurses' Association says that an arbitration decision is precedent-setting (Newstalk 610 CKTB, September 10, 2015). ONA has won its fight against Sault Area Hospital, which had implemented a policy that forced nurses to either have an influenza vaccination or wear a mask during flu season. The arbitrator found the policy to be unreasonable and a "coercive tool" to force health-care workers to be vaccinated.
September 11: ONA says that hospitals will no longer be allowed to shame health-care workers into getting a vaccination against influenza (Broadcast News, September 11, 2015). Arbitrator Jim Hayes found that the policy was unreasonable and called it a "coercive tool" to force health-care workers to be vaccinated. He also concluded that the masks were not protecting patients or nurses from the flu.
September 11: An arbitrator has "nixed a policy" that required nurses to get vaccinated against influenza or wear a mask (Sarnia Observer, London Free Press, September 11, 2015). "In a decision that casts doubt about the viability of flu shot or mask rules at 37 Ontario hospitals, including in London, James Hayes struck down the mask policy at Sault Area Hospital." Infection control experts are split over flu shots. They disagree over the risk to patients from staff who are neither vaccinated or masked when staff with flu symptoms should be sent home anyway; whether risk is lessened by wearing a mask; and risk to patients from someone who has the flu but is not yet showing symptoms that make its spread easier, such as sneezing.
September 10: ONA says hospitals will no longer be able to shame health-care workers into getting an influenza vaccine after an arbitrator's ruling struck down a "vaccinate or mask" policy (Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, CTV News, September 10, 2015). In Ontario, 30 hospitals had implemented the policy to force nurses to wear an unfitted surgical mask for the entire flu season if they do not have the vaccine. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the test case was against Sault Area Hospital, which had tried to use the policy to boost vaccination rates. The policy made private medical information public because everyone could tell who had been vaccinated and who had not, said Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infection prevention and control at University Health Network. Arbitrator Jim Hayes found the policy to be unreasonable and a "coercive tool" to force nurses to have the vaccine. Experts testified that it is illogical to force healthy nurses to wear masks, and Hayes concluded that the masks were not protecting patients or nurses from the flu. Haslam-Stroud says that the "sad part about it is it was giving our patients a false sense of security, and we knew that." Gardam says that the vaccine is only about 40 to 60 per cent effective in the good years, which means that if masks were effective at preventing spread of the flu, all workers should wear masks all the time. The policy, says Haslam-Stroud, "was symbolic rather than a scientifically based tool in the fight against influenza" and "amounted to a draconian shaking of the finger at nurses." She adds that nurses have provisions in their contract that require a non-vaccinated nurse to move to another ward if the medical officer of health determines there is a flu outbreak where she works.
September 7: CBC Radio 1 (September 7, 2015) reports that among the chants for solidarity at Toronto's Labour Day Parade were calls for Sid Ryan to resign from the Ontario Federation of Labour. Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, said that under Ryan's leadership, several big unions -- including the Ontario Nurses' Association -- have pulled back from the OFL. "They're outside of the labour movement," said Dias. "There's others [unions] that are talking about leaving." An election for president of the OFL will be held at its convention this November.
September 10: The Belleville Intelligencer (September 10, 2015) reports that a forum for the region's northern federal election candidates will influence local voters. Those who attended say what they heard changed their minds. The local chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) organized the meeting and while the local Conservative candidate did not attend, the Liberal and NDP candidates did. ONA Local 31 Local Coordinator Jackie Dales told the crowd that health care should be a bigger priority for residents and political parties. "Health care is a priority for parties that were represented at the meeting," she noted. "It was significant to me that the sitting MP didn't participate in this conversation." She says that the parties' lack of health-care discussion is at odds with voters. "A comprehensive senior care strategy is hugely important," she said. She added that voters should prioritize health care when they vote.
September 7: A network of registered nurses, nurse practitioners and other health-care providers work to provide assistance for those who need it (premierhomecareservices.com, September 7, 2015). For the sandwich generation who increasingly care for both their children and elderly parents, the nurses are there to help when someone is wondering if an aging parent needs more care. The highly skilled nurses have a range of expertise and abilities, the reason why some say that an RN is an invaluable asset in any health-care sector. Care coordinators thoroughly assess both the cognitive and physical condition of patients, and arrange for the appropriate services for them. These patient advocates are invaluable, and additional information can be found at ona.org/RNs.
September 9: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (September 9, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that we can "count on the Fraser Institute to try to make a mockery of Labour Day." Haslam-Stroud writes that the suggestion that workers could "truly celebrate Labour Day" by enacting worker choice legislation would be "comical if it were not so vile." This old imported approach to labour is meant to benefit anyone but the hard-working families of Ontario. She says that this tactic was first used in the 1930s by corporations to strip workers of any voice they may have had in the workplace. It is meant to mislead people into believing that killing unions will benefit the working class, when nothing could be further from the truth. The Fraser Institute, she writes, is a "mouthpiece for ensuring that the rich get richer" and an organization that wants to take Canadians back to working conditions that existed 150 years ago.
August 27: For those exploring career possibilities, a rewarding profession that is in high demand should be kept in mind -- a career as a registered nurse (South Asian Focus, August 27, 2015). Ontario Nurses' Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN says that "we need more registered nurses. Research has shown the direct link between RN care and better outcomes for our patients, and Canada has a shortage of these professionals that needs to be addressed quickly." She says that as RNs, "we love our jobs. We are equal parts clinicians and caregivers. We must complete a four-year baccalaureate degree that enables us to be critical thinkers -- a unique skill that can make the difference between life and death for our patients." For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
August 26: In Ontario, a group of RNs working in public health are there to keep our kids healthy as they return to school (Edmontonexaminer.com, August 26, 2015). Public Health Nurses are RNs who provide highly skilled services and care. With their special training, they work to provide a wide range of services and education, and work with children on needs specific to them. They point out that there is a strong connection between health and many environmental factors, and teach kids to practice good health habits. They have expertise when children need help with speech, language, hearing and vision issues. Parents can also access public health services. The Healthy Schools Program was initiated to ensure overall fitness, well-being and proper nutrition. Public Health Nurses use their expertise to design and deliver health education campaigns and implement disease-prevention and screening activities.
August 27: For the "sandwich generation," who are increasingly caring for both their children and aging parents, the resources they have in CCAC care coordinators are invaluable (Paris Star, August 27, 2015). How do we know when an elderly parent needs help? The network of RNs working as care coordinators are there to assess their patient's cognitive and physical condition and arrange for any supports -- or long-term care placement -- as needed. Using their skills, RNs can help determine the needs of an aging parent, or anyone who needs help. Care coordinators say they don't just work with the elderly, but also provide end-of-life palliative care in the home, help kids with special needs, and arrange for home care so patients can be discharged from hospital sooner. Their services reduce hospital costs while ensuring high-quality care and services. Simply stated, RNs as patient advocates are invaluable in any health-care setting. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
August 20: Back-to-school time brings concerns about keeping children healthy (Oakville Beaver, insidehalton.com, Kingston This Week, August 20, 2015). In Ontario, a group of RNs work in Public Health specifically to help children and the community stay healthy. Public Health Nurses provide highly skilled services and care, and their special training enables them to provide a wide range of services and education. They point out there is a strong connection between health and many environmental factors, so they teach kids about practicing good health habits. They also have the expertise needed when kids need help with speech, language, hearing and vision issues. The Healthy Schools program ensures overall fitness, well-being and proper nutrition for children.
August 20: Not everyone in the "sandwich generation" -- those caring for their kids and aging parents -- feels totally confident about their responsibilities (durhamregion.com, Uxbridge Times-Journal, fifty-five-plus.com, August 20, 2015). How do we know when a parent needs help to remain in their own home, or whether they need long-term care? Registered nurses working at Ontario's 14 CCACs are there to assist in these situations. Ontarians "have access to the skills and care provided by this network of highly skilled professionals. The range of expertise they possess is why some say that a registered nurse is an invaluable asset in any health-care sector. Care coordinators thoroughly assess their patients, both their physical condition and cognitive abilities, and arrange for services. Care coordinators don't just work with the elderly, they are also there to provide end-of-life palliative care, work with children who have mental health and physical needs, arrange home care so patients can be discharged from hospital sooner, and reduce costs on the health-care system. For more information, visit www.ona.org/RNs.
August 24: ONA has launched a new advertising campaign as part of its efforts to rally public support against the "squeeze on health care" (Queen's Park Briefing, August 24, 2015). ONA's campaign has the theme, "The Truth Hurts. Nurses Know" and has launched in Kingston, Ontario on buses, benches and transit shelters. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, says that "registered nurses are professionals and are the most trusted patient-care advocates. As front-line care providers, we are in a position to open the conversation about a multitude of issues contributing to a decline in our health care." She adds that RNs are "first and foremost patient advocates." ONA has been "ringing alarm bells over the shifting of patient care from RNs to the less-costly care provided by registered practical nurses and personal support workers."
August 24: ONA has launched a new ad campaign in Kingston (Nurses' Newsline, August 24, 2015) with the tagline, "The Truth Hurts. Nurses Know." The campaign's aim is to inform the public of issues facing RNs and their patients. "Registered nurses are professionals and are the most trusted patient care advocates," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "As front-line care providers, we are in a position to open the conversation about the multitude of issues that are contributing to a decline in our health care." As Haslam-Stroud explains, RNs have an "up close and personal" view as well as the skills, education and experience that enables them to knowledgeably discuss the state of Ontario's health-care system.
August 27: A letter to the editor of the Northumberland News (August 27, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud urges the community to participate in upcoming town hall meetings. The meetings are meant to provide an opportunity for public input into plans for Northumberland Hills Hospital. Haslam-Stroud writes that the public is in a position to understand what's required to maintain and improve services while getting costs under control. She adds that it is critical that the public's voice is heard, as we have seen too often that consultants recommend service cuts. In 2015 alone, more than 500 RNs have been cut from Ontario hospitals. In view of the hospital's operational budget shortfalls, ONA welcomes the review of its financial management practices, clinical services and operations, clinical quality, integration opportunities and governance oversight. The dedicated RNs there, she notes, know what is needed and will be adding their voices to the discussions.
August 27: Unifor President Jerry Dias says that it is time for "outspoken" Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Sid Ryan to leave office (Toronto Star, August 27, 2015). Dias says that while he respects Ryan, the future of Ontario's labour movement comes first. He worries that if Ryan stays in his position, unions will continue to leave the OFL. "There is clearly a consensus among some of the top leaders across the province that they have lost confidence in Sid." Unifor will support longtime CAW/Unifor union official Chris Buckley who plans to run against Ryan at the OFL convention in November. Ryan claims that Buckley's candidacy is "unethical" as he is one of two people who was appointed by the Canadian Labour Congress to oversee the OFL's finances earlier this year. Three unions - OPSEU, the Ontario Nurses' Association, and Local 1 SEIU- are no longer paying dues to the OFL in protest of Ryan's leadership, and OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has said that his union will not rejoin the OFL "under any circumstances" until Ryan is gone. In a letter to Ryan in 2013, Thomas wrote, "OPSEU will return to its role as a leading union in the Ontario Federation of Labour when mutual respect, democratic debate, and fairness are restored."
August 24: ONA has launched a new ad campaign in Kingston to raise public awareness about threats to health-care (Canada Newswire, August 24, 2015). "Registered nurses are professionals and are the most trusted patient care advocates," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. "As front-line care providers, we are in a position to open the conversation about the multitude of issues that are contributing to a decline in our health care." Kingston residents will see ads with the theme "The Truth Hurts. Nurses Know." showing up in the city's transit shelters, bus exteriors and benches.
August 22: In a letter to the editor in the London Free Press, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud explains that safe patient care is "the first priority for every nurse," adding that there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting mask policies as a preventative measure during flu season. ONA believes the focus should be on established solutions that protect patients from influenza. Haslam-Stroud says the union's 60,000 members will be guided by the arbitration decision on the issue, which will be based on expert evidence (August 22, 2015).
August 14: Brockville General Hospital is continuing to try to recruit an obstetrician for its maternity ward (Brockville Recorder & Times, August 14, 2015). The hospital's president and CEO, Tony Weeks, says that despite staff cuts being made to deal with provincial funding shortfalls, the recruitment is not going to impact the budget as the vacancy has already been accounted for. Mary Jane Froats, the Bargaining Unit President for the Ontario Nurses' Association, says she welcomes efforts to bring in an obstetrician. "Right now, there's two and the workload is too much for the two," she said. She and other ONA members are continuing plans to circulate an Ontario Health Coalition petition to urge the province to stop the BGH cuts and improve hospital funding. The groups plan to rally at the Brockville Farmer's Market before the end of the month.
August 12: The province is establishing a Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table to protect health-care professionals on the job (The Fountain Pen, August 12, 2015). Health-care workers are more highly exposed to workplace hazards, including violence, exposure to infectious diseases, ergonomic hazards, slips, trips and falls. The Leadership Table participants -- including the Ontario Nurses' Association -- will bring their expertise and advice on how to prevent violence against nurses. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that "registered nurses know the hazards they face every day in the workplace. The Ontario Nurses' Association's place at the Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care Leadership Table will enable our dedicated Registered Nurses to have a voice and contribute to improvements in safety that will help to keep our caregivers and our patients safer."
August 13: A letter to the editor of the Brantford Expositor (August 13, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud takes CarePartners to task for forcing its nurses onto the picket lines for months. She writes that ONA is very aware of the value these dedicated nurses bring to the province's home care system, and the savings they bring to the health-care system. CarePartners, she notes, is a private, for-profit company that is putting profits before patients. Why CarePartners has refused the nurses the dignity and respect they deserve is hard to fathom, until we remember that should the workers' first contract include a wage increase, CarePartners' profit margin will be impacted. This, writes Haslam-Stroud, is "even more reprehensible considering the lower wages in home care generally for all health-care workers. She urges the communities, including Brantford, that are being impacted by the strike to support and speak up for the nurses.
August 12: A letter to the editor of the Simcoe Reformer (August 12, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud calls for CarePartners to show some respect for its nurses. Haslam-Stroud writes that it is outrageous that these highly skilled and educated nurses working for CarePartners have been forced onto the picket lines for months with no movement from their employer to show them the respect they deserve. ONA is very aware of the value these dedicated workers bring to the province's home-care system. The same cannot, apparently, be said for their private, for-profit employer. Why CarePartners has refused these OPSEU members the dignity and respect they have earned is beyond comprehension -- until one considers that should the members' first contract include a wage increase, the profit margin of CarePartners will be impacted. This is even more reprehensible considering the lower wages in home care generally for all health-care workers. ONA supports these workers and asks that the community also speak up for those who provide their care. Profits over patients: Shame on CarePartners for their marginalization of a group of nurses who work so hard for the community.
August 11: Are you exploring career possibilities and want a rewarding profession in high demand? The Penticton Herald (August 11, 2015) says that registered nurses are needed in Canada and world-wide. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that "we need more registered nurses. Research has shown the direct link between RN care and better outcomes for our patients, and Canada has a shortage of these caregivers that needs to be addressed." RNs work in a large variety of health-care settings and in many specialties. Haslam-Stroud says that, "As RNs, we love our jobs. We are equal parts clinicians and caregivers..." RNs receive education that enables them to be "critical thinkers -- a unique skills that can make the difference between life and death for our patients."
August 4: In a letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (August 4, 2015), ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the loss of dozens of RNs to jobs at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital is a "disturbing preview of Ontario health care." Haslam-Stroud writes that it's "absolutely absurd" that our highly sought-after RNs are being forced to find work in the U.S. when every sector of health care in Ontario has an RN shortage. "Ontario is in the midst of a slow exsanguination of RNs that is now threatening to become a hemorrage," she writes. CIHI numbers show that fewer RNs entered the profession than left it in 2014. This is happening even as our population ages and grows. Many employers are not filling RN vacancies, and plummeting RN staffing levels spell bad news for patients. The research is clear: patients suffer an increased risk of complications and even death as RN complements decline. She urges the government to put a moratorium on RN cuts and calls for the creation of a health human resources strategy.
July 29: The Ontario Health Coalition and a small group of health-care union activists say that cuts at Brockville General Hospital are due to a provincial funding freeze (Brockville Recorder & Times, July 29, 2015). The cuts, say the group, are endangering patient health. The OHC is calling on the provincial government to stop the recently announced cuts and restore hospital funding. A petition has already gathered 50 signatures and Ontario Nurses' Association Bargaining Unit President Mary Jane Froats says she will circulate it at the city's Farmer's Market as well as at a downtown rally. ONA Regional Vice-President Anne Clark says that front-line nurses should never be cut. "We are seeing health-care decisions being driven by dollars and not our patients' needs," she says.
July 25: Facing pressure to improve workplace safety, Guelph General Hospital will "beef up" its security force while cutting down on personal support workers (Guelph Mercury, July 25, 2015).The hospital has announced plans to hire "some new security officers" in the fall, but this means that up to 30 PSWs will be let go, although management adds that efforts are being made to find work for them elsewhere in the hospital. Guelph General's human resources and support services vice-president Rod Carroll explains that safety is a priority. "In health care, we've seen an increase in violence and aggression in the workplace." The hospital faced public pressure to increase patient and worker safety measures from the Ontario Nurses' Association after a fatal police shooting took place in its emergency room in May.
July 24/25: Nurses in some "cash-strapped" Ontario hospitals are being asked to do double-duty as cleaners, potentially increasing the risk of infection for vulnerable patients (London Free Press, July 24/25, 2015). The President of Unifor Local 27, the union representing cleaning staff at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), is speaking out after recent changes to the hospital's policy around cleaning a clinic serving children and teens who are at heightened risk of infection. “In a lot of cases, the cleaning isn’t getting done and it’s a problem that’s going on across the province,” says Jim Reid. Previously LHSC policies saw a cleaner scrub examination rooms and put fresh linens on beds before a patient entered. Now, registered nurses has been asked to take over the cleaning duties while doctors decide if linens are necessary on scrubbed examination beds. Ellen Ledingham, the first vice-president of ONA Local 100, representing registered nurses at LHSC, says it "seems ridiculous" to cut costs by delegating cleaning duties to highly-trained nurses.
July 22: A guest column in the Windsor Star (July 22, 2015) says that southwestern Ontario nurses – and those across the province – are facing an “epidemic of assaults in our workplaces.” Karen Boutilier, RN writes that 54 per cent of Ontario Nurses’ Association members have reported being physically assaulted, an “extremely sobering statistic” given that there are 60,000 members working in hospitals, long-term care, the community, public health, industry and clinics. RNs have been harassed, stabbed, punched, choked, pinched, scratched, bitten and spat at. One RN has had her finger amputated; others have been beaten beyond recognition. ONA members know that without proper prevention measures and support from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, unsafe workplaces will hurt nurses and also patients. Statistics show that violence is grossly under-reported and shockingly common. RNs continue to experience one of the highest rates of workplace violence of all workers in Ontario – even higher than that of police and correctional officers. A lack of sufficient Labour Ministry enforcement and charges, the tendency of management to under-report and fail to act to protect workers and a culture of tolerance for workplace violence are all part of the problem, as is a nursing shortage and overall staffing shortages in our overburdened health-care system. Violence in our workplaces has to stop, she writes. “RNs and our patients are depending on it.”
July 16: The President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association says that reducing the number of RNs at Brockville General Hospital will have a significant impact on the safety of patient care (St. Lawrence EMC, July 16, 2015). Linda Haslam-Stroud says that RN cuts are happening across Ontario, and evidence shows the effects include excessive workloads, increased infections, longer wait times and more readmissions, as well as higher patient morbidity and mortality rates. “Brockville General has chosen to risk the health outcomes of our patients by cutting RN hours,” she said. “Our dedicated and highly skilled RNs are concerned about the safety of care in this community.” She is calling on the government to put a moratorium on RN cuts.
July 14: Ontario nurses are speaking out against local claims that cuts to front-line RN positions at Brockville General Hospital won’t affect service levels (Nurses’ Newsline, July 14, 2015). The hospital is cutting 26 full-time-equivalent jobs. ONA says that the cost-saving measures will ultimately lead to “more deaths and more complications” for patients. ONA Vice-President Anne Clark said that you “cannot cut an RN out of a system and expect to have no consequences.”
July 15: The Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (July 15, 2015) reports that nursing students are struggling and frustrated with a new RN exam because they believe it is too heavily based on the American health-care system. The National Council Licensure Examination has been the test given to Canadian nursing students, rather than the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination. The College of Nurses of Ontario denies that the exam is American, but not everyone thinks that the exam contains enough Canadian material; many students are failing the exam. One student – who passed the exam – told the Chronicle-Journal that the test contains questions about medications that are unavailable in Canada, and referred to positions that do not exist in the Canadian health-care system. The exam is also a concern for the Ontario Nurses’ Association. ONA VP Anne Clark, who holds the Education portfolio, says “it’s a barrier they don’t need. It should be a Canadian exam, let’s face it. Americans have a different slant in their curriculum than we have.” Clark says that Canada has a very different curriculum than the U.S., and the two countries have different standards of care.
July 15: A letter to the editor of the Brockville Recorder & Times (July 15, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud notes that the Times’ opinion editorial made some very good points about the impact of cuts to RNs at Brockville General Hospital. However, the piece is very wrong when it suggests that ONA and its members are “fear mongering” when they state that cuts will increase the risks of patients suffering increased complications and even death. In fact, evidence shows that RN cuts result in those rates increasing. The letter cites evidence from several of the many studies that have found a correlation between RN staffing rates and patient outcomes. What is needed to stop RN cuts is appropriately funded hospitals, writes Haslam-Stroud, and that is something that the people of Brockville can speak out and demand from their government.
July 14: The 45-bed Chartwell Leamington long-term care facility did not use restraints on its residents at all, even as the City of Windsor’s Huron Lodge used them on 16.1 per cent of its elderly patients (Windsor Star, July 14, 2015). Chartwell in Leamington found out from a CIHI study that it has the lowest use of restraints (zero per cent) and the highest percentage of patients with improved physical function (37.1 per cent) in the area. Beverly Mathers, manager of negotiations for the Ontario Nurses’ Association, says that “there’s no doubt” that some of the ratings numbers in the report stand out. She says that most homes have a zero restraint policy, yet when you have that policy and not enough staff, “the next thing that happens to address the risk of falls, or the risk of violence, is to use antipsychotic drugs to control the behaviors.” She says that long-term care homes in recent years have developed a bad mix of residents as spaces closed for the chronically mentally ill and developmentally handicapped. “You mix them all together with the frail elderly and this is what you get.” Mathers believes that if there were enough people to watch, to provide care, to provide regular toileting, then there would be less of all this.
July 9: ONA says that RN jobs are being cut at Brockville Hospital, adding to the growing number of lost RN positions across the province (Queen’s Park Briefing, July 9, 2015). At BGH, almost 17 full- and part-time RN positions are being eliminated, including one in the ICU and in the OR. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that, “sadly, this is happening across the province, and the research and evidence shows the devastating impact of RN cuts on our patients and our ability to provide safe, high-quality care…” ONA has been lobbying the government for months on the issue and says that since January more than 400 RN positions have been cut. Hospitals have been replacing RNs with cheaper RPNs and PSWs – something both ONA and the RNAO have “sounded off on.”
July 11: An opinion editorial in the Brockville Recorder & Times (July 11, 2015) says that nurses’ union members are correct: “it defies sensibility to believe, as hospital management has claimed, that service to the community won’t be compromised when the full-time equivalent of 17 registered and registered practical nurses are removed.” Local patients will see an impact and hospital administrators should admit this and “ease up on the bureaucratic reflexes that prompt them to say things such as, ‘Through these changes, we will be stronger…as a care provider,’ while keeping a straight face.” The piece also says that the hospital must balance the budget, and the nurses’ union should “cool the fear mongering” of suggesting that trimming RNs will directly lead to more deaths and complications. The editorial urges ONA to be proactive in offering reasonable compromises or options that “could also mitigate the impacts on their own members.”
July 11: The Globe and Mail (July 11, 2015) has published an in-depth investigative report on home care in Ontario. The Globe spoke to dozens of previous and current patients as well as front-line staff, community groups, unions, for-profit and non-profit care providers and industry organizations. The report concludes that the system is facing “unprecedented challenges.” Ontario is more aggressive than any other province in shifting care out of hospital and into people’s homes, with the fewest hospital beds per capita of any province. Only Chile and Mexico have fewer beds per capita among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The resulting spike for home care has led to CCACs changing assessment standards, reducing services and cutting off clients’ care. The Globe calls access to service a “postal-code lottery” – with some CCACs better funded than others. Ontario’s CCACs contract out nearly all front-line care, a legacy of the Mike Harris government that was intended to introduce competition to the sector. Now the province has the “worst of both worlds – all the complexities of a system designed to manage third-party competition, and none of the advantages.” The CCACs themselves are mired in controversy over “lofty” executive pay hikes. Dianne Leclair, a home-care coordinator and board member of ONA, says that “services are all over the map.” Leclair has consulted her care coordinator colleagues at 10 CCACs represented by ONA and was “shocked” by what she found. Eight of 10 CCACs use the RAI-HC tool to evaluate patients, but the same scores triggered different responses from place to place. To help balance very tight budgets, some CCACs are trying to teach patients’ families to do some of the nursing care themselves. Lori Marshall, CEO of the Erie St. Clair CCAC, says that care coorindators do not force unwilling patients or their caregivers to do the work themselves. But, in general, “we want to teach you to do some of your care yourself.”
July 11: Ontario nurses are “firing back” against local claims that front-line nursing cuts at Brockville General Hospital won’t affect service levels (Brockville Recorder & Times, July 11, 2015). Earlier this week, administrators claimed that the quality of care would be maintained despite cutting 26 full-time equivalent nursing positions. The Ontario Nurses’ Association, however, says the cost-saving measures will lead to “more deaths and more complications.” Anne Clark, RN, Vice-President of ONA Region 2, says that “you cannot cut an RN out of a system and expect to have no consequences.” She says that when RN care is cut, readmission rates rise, patients suffer from more bedsores, sepsis, blood clots, pneumonia, cardiac arrest, and “they’re also more vulnerable to medication errors.” The hospital’s VP and Chief Nursing Officer says they will “be diligent” in monitoring the staffing adjustments to ensure quality and safe patient care. The changes include cutting 9.1 FTE RNs and 7.9 FTE RPNs. Clark suggests that if cuts needed to be made, cutting administrative positions would have been a safer idea.
July 10: While there are more nurses working at Sarnia-Lambton hospitals, there are fewer Registered Nurses (RNs). The reason? RNs are being replaced by Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), who are less costly to employ (Sarnia Observer and London Free Press, July 10, 2015). Sarnia’s Bluewater health is a local example as hospitals across Ontario continue to gut RN positions on the backs of patients’ health, says Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. Earlier this year, Bluewater cut 40 positions, 39 of them RNs, to help balance its books. The problem, says Haslam-Stroud, is that hospitals are becoming hubs for highly complex and unpredictable patients – the very patients RNs are specifically trained to care for.
July 3: A Global News investigative report suggests that Engage Canada’s recent anti-Harper health-care ad “doesn’t tell the full story” (July 3, 2015). The ad features various stats about the Conservative leader’s record on health care, including a claim by the Ontario Nurses’ Association that there are now fewer registered nurses in the province, at least in part due to changes to federal funding. The article says that while there is evidence to suggest a shrinking nursing workforce, Canada-wide it “may be too early to say” what direct effects changing federal policies have had on the number of nurses.
July 3: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud cautions that cuts to health agencies like the Porcupine Health Unit could ultimately wind up costing the health-care system more (CHMT, July 3, 2015). She urges the public to speak out against cuts that will deny vulnerable patients timely access to health care.
July 2: Algoma Public Health (APH) is seeking an interim CEO and Medical Officer of Health (MOH) following a special board meeting last week (Sault Star, July 2, 2015). The decision comes after a “scathing” assessor’s report released by the ministry of health concluded that former MOH/CEO Dr. Kim Barker “failed in leadership management” while the health board “failed in governance and administration.” Acting CEO Sandra Lacle says that her experience in the position has been a “stretch experience” but enjoyable. Beginning in late-March, Lacle dealt with APH’s ongoing issues with Barker, while also arriving amid “tough” labour talks with 62 health-care workers represented by ONA.
July 3: Following a Toronto Star report about increasing incidents of violence against nurses, the NDP health and labour critics are calling on the provincial government to take action to protect patients and staff in Ontario’s hospitals (Toronto Star, July 3, 2015). Labour critic Cindy Forster and health critic France Gélinas wrote an open letter urging the Liberal health and labour ministers to “do more” to prevent violence against nurses on the job. A spokesperson for the health minister emailed a statement to the Star explaining that both Minister Hoskins and Minister Flynn are committed to “ensuring Ontario’s nurses have safe workplaces” and are keeping an “open dialogue” with ONA to work towards this aim. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that while she is in discussions with the ministers about addressing workplace violence, talking isn’t enough. ONA wants increased hospital staffing levels, better trained security guards and more accountability from CEOs.
July 2: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud spoke to Jerry Agar about a new report that reveals a rising number of attacks on nurses working in hospitals (CFRB AM, July 2, 2015). While some speculate that the number of incidents has risen because of improved reporting, Haslam-Stroud says that there has definitely been an increase in the violence experienced by nurses on the job. “I think the reporting has gotten better, although we still are not reporting all incidences of violence. But it also has gotten worse. And the kind of violence that we're experiencing now has escalated threefold from years ago.” She adds that as the violence escalates -with a number of serious injuries being reported in recent months- there is a very real concern that someone could be killed. While mental-health issues can contribute to the number of violent incidents, there are some patients who are just aggressive and violent. Haslam-Stroud says that ONA is working with the ministers of health and labour to try and get a task force initiated that will thoroughly investigate the issue of violence in health-care with the goal of keeping patients and nurses safe. Listen to the podcast here (starting at 47:47): https://soundcloud.com/jerry-agar-show/jerry-agar-podcast-july-22015.
July 1: The International Nurses Association has announced that Patricia Y. Collantes has been welcomed to the organization (IBWire, July 1, 2015). The registered nurse will be published in the Worldwide Leaders in Healthcare; she is an RN working at Humber River Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital, has more than 35 years’ experience and is a member of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
July 2: The Toronto Star (July 2, 2015) has published a report on workplace violence in the health-care sector. Nurses are assaulted on the job every day, and an Access to Information request details a list of nurses being punched, kicked and spit on University Health Network alone in 2014. Assaults on nurses have increased over the past three years, in some cases doubling, and UHN says the increases are likely due to changing violent incident reporting requirements. The Ontario Nurses’ Association has long called for improvements to staff safety measures. Andy Summers, vice-president of ONA with a portfolio of health and safety, says violence “shouldn’t be part of this job. Eventually, somebody will get killed.” ONA says that employers are trying to downplay the issue by blaming different reporting requirements for the increase. Some employers “absolutely” still discourage staff from reporting incidents. Instead, ONA wants to see a violence strategy implemented at hospitals across the province. This would include mandatory reporting of every incident to the Ministry of Labour. Currently, only fatalities and critical incidents must be reported. ONA also wants to see mandatory risk assessment of every patient, increased security and more health-care providers hired. They also want to see the Ministry charge individual hospital CEOs when workers are not adequately protected. A spokesperson for the Minister of Labour says his ministry is working with ONA and “preparing to take the next steps to improve the health and safety of health-care workers in Ontario.” University Hospital RN Jean Dobson says she has been strangled with a stethoscope, stabbed with a metal fork and spat at by patients over the course of her 42-year career. “People think that they can hurt a nurse and that’s OK,” she said. “We have to smile and take it.” In one incident, she was kicked in the face so violently that her nose was broken. She was off work for weeks and suffered from PTSD. She says she has seen the number of attacks increase, as well as the severity of the assaults.
June 30: A letter to the editor of the Timmins Press (June 30, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that as the President of the union representing the NPs and Public Health Nurses providing services through the Porcupine Health Unit, she wants to inform the community that there has been a decision to cut the NPs, negatively impacting public health services and care. The highly skilled and dedicated NPs work in prenatal and postnatal services as well as sexual health clinics. The Healthy Beginnings Program is being completely eliminated. Haslam-Stroud writes that as nurses, we “all take our role in advocating” for patients very seriously. Now, this medically underserviced community and some of its most vulnerable citizens are losing timely access to care. The cuts are unacceptable, and it is incredibly unfortunate that a public health unit, with a foundation of nursing science, has opted to almost completely eliminate the role of NPs. As budget restraints continue across Ontario, we are all losing nurses and services. Haslam-Stroud says that if we do not all start voicing our objection, we will lose services that can prevent diseases and keep communities healthy. She urges the community to speak out.
June 29: The organization that is the “voice for nurses in the province” says that the declining number of RNs is a symptom of an ailing health-care system whose only mandate is to balance the books (Mississauga News, June 29, 2015). The statement from the Ontario Nurses’ Association comes close on the heels of a new report from CIHI that reveals Ontario has 714 RNs per 100,000 people, compared to an average of 836 per 100,000 in the rest of the country. Anne Clark, Vice-President of ONA, says the dwindling numbers of RNs isn’t a result of a lack of demand; on the contrary, the demand for care for our growing population means there is a need for more RNs. “Hospitals are balancing their budgets on the backs of the RNs,” she said. “The decrease is quite dramatic and it has to stop. It’s also alarming because for the first time in 20 years, the supply of RNs has fallen. If you keep cutting us out of the system, there’s going to be less of us here and more of us moving to the U.S.” The report says that hospitals are hiring RPNs because they are less expensive. RNs must complete a four-year degree program compared to the two-year diploma training of an RPN and a different scope of practice. Clark says the number of RPNs grew in Ontario by 52.3 per cent between 2005 and 2014; the number of RNs grew by just nine per cent during the same period. Clark adds that since January, Ontario hospitals have cut more than 400 RN positions.
June 28: Members of ONA will be joining Toronto’s Pride Parade (Sudbury Northern Life, June 28, 2015). ONA board members, front-line nursing members and staff will join friends and family to ride or march with ONA’s float when the parade gets underway. ONA continues to be a strong supporter of Pride and human rights and equity.
June 23: Both the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Canadian Nurses Association have “sounded the alarm” about nursing resources following the release of a new CIHI report (Nursing Newsline, June 23, 2015). The CNA says the report leaves it questioning whether Canada can meet its population’s health needs. Canada lost 2,824 licensed RNs between 2013 and 2014 – the first decline in 20 years. CNA President Karima Velji said the “nursing workforce report should be treated as a cornerstone document by any government or organization involved in the planning and delivery of health care in Canada.” Velji urged that health-care decisions be well-informed and grounded in data, not just “based on budgets.”
June 23: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that the findings of a new CIHI report on Canadian nursing add to growing concerns that the province is “de-skilling” the health-care system (Queen’s Park Briefing, June 23, 2015). The report shows that the number of RPNs in Ontario grew 52.3 per cent from 2005 to 2014, while the number of RNs grew just 9.2 per cent. ONA Vice-President Anne Clark says that “they’re using a skill mix to bring in somebody who is cheaper that balances their budget better.” She notes that RNs account for a big part of hospital budgets and “we tend to be the ones they cut first,” when funding is frozen. Ontario has the second-worst RN-to-population ratio in the country. Across Canada, the number of RNs licensed to practice fell for the first time in two decades. In a media release, ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the drop is “more than alarming.” Ontario lost 12,273 nurses, partly due to regulatory changes.
June 19: CBC Sudbury (June 19, 2015) has reported that Health Sciences North is expected to cut more jobs because of provincial budget constraints. Denis Roy, President of the Sudbury area hospital, says that “nursing cuts, other cuts…you know, everybody will suffer.” In March, the Ontario Nurses’ Association said that they had been told the hospital would be cutting 39 full-time RN positions, the equivalent loss of 85,000 hours of RN care.
June 20: The President and CEO of Guelph General Hospital says things will never be the same following the shooting of an ER patient, but a “new normal” is emerging (Guelph Mercury, June 20, 2015). A number of changes have been made and there is a new heightened awareness that security measures must be enhanced, they say. Police say that the SIU investigation is continuing into the shooting and the hospital is reviewing its security. It admits that there is an escalation in incidents of violence. An official with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) says much more needs to be done to ensure patient and health-care worker safety. Anne Clark, ONA VP, says that nurses had identified security challenges before the shooting. Clarke says the hospital has brought in a pair of “elite-trained security guards,” one for the ER waiting room and one for the hallway outside. She adds that nurses believe that at least one more security guard is needed in the ER. She adds that nurses are trained to recognize agitation and volatility in patients in the ER waiting room, and nurses “remain very concerned about their safety and their patients’ safety.” She also notes that violence in hospitals is “grossly under-reported” and declining health-care funding with its resulting staff cuts are central to the problem.
June 17: Sixty-two ONA members working at Algoma Public Health have a new two-year contract (CHAS FM, June 17, 2015).
June 17: ONA members have ratified a new collective agreement with Algoma Public Health (Sault Star, June 17, 2015). The 62 nurses met late Monday night and voted in favour of the two-year contract, said Diana Kutchaw, a labour relations officer with ONA. Negotiations were “tough” and the agreement was reached with the assistance of a provincial conciliator. The nurses also said workplace morale was very low and recent disruptions in the workplace have not helped. The Algoma Public Health Unit has been “plagued with problems in recent years.” In January, it was revealed that the former interim CFO, using the alias Shaun Rothberg, is in fact Shaun Rootenberg, a felon convicted of fraud-related charges who spent time in a federal jail. Rothberg had replaced Jeffrey Holmes in the position, and he has recently pleaded guilty to charges of theft over $5,000 and breach of trust.
June 13: More than 60 ONA members working at Algoma Public Health will vote Monday on whether or not to accept a tentative agreement reached between the two parties (Sault Star, June 13, 2015). Neither Algoma Public Health nor ONA would discuss the terms of the settlement. The nurses have been without a contract since March.
June 12: ONA has officially “dropped the interim label” for its CEO/CAO (Queen’s Park Briefing, June 12, 2015). The nurses’ union has announced that its board of directors has appointed Marie Kelly to the role permanently after she served on an interim basis since September, 2014. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that Kelly is a “seasoned labour lawyer who truly understands how ONA works and our priorities for our registered nurses and allied health professionals.” Kelly worked with the United Steelworkers for more than 20 years and served a two-year term as an elected officer with the Ontario Federation of Labour. Haslam-Stroud notes that Kelly helped ONA in “stewarding our organization through a difficult Community Care Access Centre strike, through challenging discussions with government around RN cuts, contract negotiations, health and safety concerns – particularly around Ebola virus – and violence in our workplaces.”
June 5: Long-time Ontario Nurses’ Association First Vice-President Vicki McKenna has been presented with a national leadership award for the nursing profession (Queen’s Park Briefing, June 5, 2015). The CFNU presented McKenna with the award for her advocacy work for nurses and allied health professionals in Ontario. The London nurse was presented with CFNU’s Bread and Roses Award for oustanding individuals who contribute to policy and decision-making, enhance public awareness, participate in positive media and other public events, lobby governments and educate members and the public. McKenna is a registered nurse from the day surgery unit at London Health Sciences Centre.
June 5: Algoma Public Health has reached a deal with its nurses (CICI TV, June 5, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association and the health unit have reached a tentative settlement, and the 62 nurses ONA represents will vote on it on June 15.
June 5: The provincial government is restricting the amount of money non-political parties can spend on campaign advertising (CBC Radio, June 5, 2015). Most of the nearly $9 million spent in the last election was spent by unions, including the Ontario Nurses’ Association and ETFO. University of Toronto professor David Soberman says that while some will support the change, others would agree with the principle of free speech.
June 5: The Lake of Woods District Hospital AGM saw a large turnout from the community, with residents, nurses and other hospital staff looking for answers on cuts and funding concerns (Daily Miner & News, June 5, 2015). Board chair Fred Richardson was reluctant to take questions but eventually allowed three. Members of the local nurses’ union, however, say three questions is not enough. Judy Bain, RN, the ONA representative, said that “obviously the board is basically hands-off to the community. We got that message from the chairman…we were really hoping to be able to have more of a Q and A with the board.” She says that ONA will now meet with Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell to discuss concerns with provincial funding. Debra Bastone, a nurse at the hospital, attended as a concerned community member. “I feel it’s important to be involved because what we permit, we promote,” she said. “We need to share the responsibility when we don’t have any more health-care funding.”
June 5: Despite being “miles apart” during previous rounds of talks, a tentative agreement has been reached between Algoma Public Health (APH) and ONA, the union representing 62 nurses employed at the facility (The Sault Star, June 5, 2015). "We believe that our attempts to lobby (APH) caused them to have some reconsideration about the impact a strike would have on the local communities if we had to withdraw public health services to the community of Sault Ste. Marie and the small neighbouring northern communities that surround Sault Ste. Marie," says ONA’s negotiations manager, Beverly Mathers. The union represents public health nurses and nurse practitioners at APH who have been without a contract since March. The details of the settlement remain confidential until the members vote on June 15.
June 3: The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group is seeking an acquittal on charges related to a July 2012 “Code White” incident that saw several hospital staff members, including nurses, violently attacked by a schizophrenic patient (Ottawa Citizen, June 3, 2015). The hospital has been charged with three violations of the province’s occupational health and safety legislation including: failing to take proper precautions to protect workers; and failing to develop proper measures for workers to summon help in an emergency. Defense lawyer Stephen Bird asked for a directed verdict from the presiding justice of the peace after the prosecution finished presenting evidence on Wednesday. Bird argued that the law only requires safety policies to be in place, a requirement the hospital has met. “Do we have a policy on workplace violence? We do. Does it have information on how to summons immediate help? It does. We do not have to establish the effectiveness of this particular policy.” Justice of the Peace John Doran will rule on the motion on September 1.
June 2: The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) will apply for third-party status so that it can run ads before the upcoming federal election (CBC News, June 2, 2015). The move is a first for the organization, but CFNU President Linda Silas says that growing concern over funding and other health-care issues have prompted the decision. "We're very concerned that not enough funding is coming from the federal government and not enough leadership," says Silas. She adds that the federation’s member unions will also apply to run ads tackling issues including pharmacare and senior strategies during the election campaign.
May 28: ONA regional vice-president Anne Clark says that the latest round of nursing cuts at The Ottawa Hospital will continue the negative trend set by previous cuts leading to “less quality patient care, more complications, re-admissions and people waiting longer for care” (CBC Radio 1 Ottawa, May 28, 2015). She adds that this is “a recipe for disaster.”
May 28: The Ottawa Hospital has announced plans to lay off more than 60 workers including six full-time nurses (CTV Ottawa, May 28, 2015). In an effort to cut costs, the hospital is trimming more than 80 positions including 25 which are already vacant. ONA regional vice-president Anne Clark warns that the loss of nurses will mean less bedside care for patients in an already overburdened system.
May 28: ONA Vice-President Anne Clark says that The Ottawa Hospital’s latest round of job cuts, including 5.7 full-time-equivalent RNs, is a “race to the bottom” (Metro Ottawa, May 28, 2015). Clark says that any RNs taken from the bedside is the loss of 2,000 hours of RN care per year. It increases the workload for other nurses and leaves more patients without proper assessments. The hospital announced today that it would cut almost 87 full-time jobs and stop outpatient therapeutic services to try to reduce its capital costs by $12 million. As a result of the Ontario government’s health-care funding plan, hospital budgets have been frozen for four years.
May 23: Grand River Hospital says its security is good (Waterloo Region Record, May 23, 2015). Spokesperson Mark Karjaluoto says that “we can’t prevent circumstances where people are not well and may be on the aggressive side, but we will work and do our best…to manage that and help people as best we can.” Responding to the fatal shooting in the ER of Guelph General Hospital, the Ontario Nurses’ Association said that “enough is enough.” It called on the hospital to take safety seriously. St. Mary’s General Hospital says the safety of staff, physicians, volunteers, patients and visitors is a top priority. It has listened to staff and increased security measures. St. Mary’s also conducts emergency drills and has a violence prevention committee that meets monthly to improve safety.
May 22: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is questioning the safety record of Guelph General Hospital after a man was fatally shot in the hospital’s ER by police (CBC News, May 22, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the shooting illustrates a growing trend. “There has been ongoing discussion with this employer because of escalating violence in the Guelph hospital and we have not been successful to date in having an ant-violence strategy implemented.” She says that the hospital has not responded to recommendations that were made by its own joint health and safety committee members in January. ONA says the training security guards receive at the hospital is inadequate, and nurses are not receiving proper training that would allow them to de-escalate violence. ONA also wants to see panic alarms provided to nurses. “Even if you’re being strangled – and that happens a lot in health care – they can locate that person and usually arrive in under a minute,” says Health and Safety specialist Erna Bujna. “That’s the difference between life and death.”
May 22: ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that there is a dramatic rise in the number of violent incidents and “situations that leave other health professionals, patients and families at risk (CTV Kitchener, May 22, 2015). The concerns about aggressive behavior at Guelph Hospital have been raised for some time, and McKenna says the concerns are not unique to Guelph. The hospital’s CEO admits that the incidents have been escalating. ONA wants to see a provincial anti-violence strategy developed.
May 22: ONA is calling for changes following a shooting at Guelph Hospital (CTV News, May 22, 2015). Nurses frequently deal with violent situations at the facility, and hospital CEO Marianna Walker says that despite the shooting, the nurses continued to ensure their patients were safe. However, ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the nurses have been sounding the alarm to say, “we need to work on this and develop this program and strategies so that our patients and staff are safe.” ONA is calling for a provincial violence strategy from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour. Hospital officials admit that they do not do enough to prevent violence. ONA also says that it’s important to include nurses when talking about front-line workers who might experience PTSD.
May 22: ONA says that the shooting at Guelph General Hospital was preventable (CBC Radio 1 Kitchener, May 22, 2015). Erna Bujna says that at first, the information received by ONA was that a man was dead and a woman was shot. ONA was very concerned about the patient and worried that those who were shot were nurses. Bujna said that very recently, ONA was raising concerns with the Ministry of Labour that due to their ineffective enforcement, someone would die if action wasn’t taken. Most nurses are not prepared for workplace violence – she calls for hands-on-type training so that nurses can properly de-escalate violence. Bujna says that nurses are so busy, “they’re working short-staffed in most of our facilities, they aren’t getting the proper measures and security measures that they need to be able to do their job…” Bujna adds that at Guelph General and across Ontario, nurses aren’t adequately trained for violence de-escalation, they lack proper security measures, guards and proper panic alarms. There is a model that exists in the province – ONA worked with Toronto East General to develop a program of workplace safety that is a good example of what is needed elsewhere. Nurses at Guelph General had raised concerns about the lack of security measures before the incident last week. Bujna says that the Ministry of Health now has a “huge opportunity here to actually lead us out of this culture of acceptance of violence in health care workplaces, hold employers and their leaders accountable for safety, for violence across Ontario.”
May 21: Approximately 30 representatives of the Ontario Nurses’ Association attended the Algoma Board of Health meeting (SooToday.com, May 21, 2015). The ONA members had held an information picket outside the offices earlier in the afternoon. They are negotiating a new contract with the health unit, and claim that they are the lowest-paid in the province. The board discussed the state of negotiations in camera.
May 22: Gina Gillen of LaSalle has received the Ontario Nurses’ Association Nurse Recognition 2015 Award (Tecumseh Shoreline Week, May 22, 2015). The nurse was presented with the award at the ONA Local 8 annual awards dinner to mark Nursing Week. Gillen was honoured for her outstanding contribution as an NP with Leamington Memorial Hospital.
May 22: Guelph General Hospital has brought in extra security from Homewood Health Centre following a shooting in the ER on Wednesday (Guelph Mercury, May 22, 2015). Those who were working that day have been given a day off. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the hospital should have done more for them – specifically, to protect them in the first place. McKenna says RNs at Guelph General had warned management that an anti-violence strategy was needed to prevent incidents like Wednesday’s. “It’s just a terrible thing that has happened and I just hope that everyone learns from it and that we can make it a safer workplace there.” Eileen Bain, VP of patient services and chief nursing officer, says she is aware of ONA’s concerns and shares many of them. The hospital has noted an increase in violence, particularly with mental health patients. The Waterloo Wellington LHIN is sponsoring an external review of mental health services in the region. Bain says the hospital is looking for ways to beef up security.
May 14: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that despite the many challenges facing registered nurses in Ontario, nursing is “an amazing profession” (The Sachem & Gazette, May 14, 2015). Haslam-Stroud says she has no regrets about entering nursing, and gave nursing students and graduates encouragement. The interview was done to mark Nursing Week, and Haslam-Stroud says it is an opportunity to highlight where patient care can be improved. “RN care means a lower incidence of patient morbidity and mortality and saves the system money in the long-term. As we celebrate Nursing Week, ONA and its members have vowed to continue to advocate for safe, quality patient care.”
May 20: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says the per-capita ratio of RNs in Ontario is the second-worst in Canada, and is destined to keep dropping (Queen’s Park Briefing, May 20, 2015). ONA VP Vicki McKenna spoke to the finance committee on its second day of hearings into the budget implementation bill, and said there are now 71 RNs per 10,000 people in Ontario, compared to an average of 83.6 RNs per 10,000 people in the rest of Canada. “This means each RN must manage increasingly high patient assignments,” creating an environment “where gaps may arise in patient assessments, recovery and care planning.” McKenna says the 2015 budget does not address this “untenable gap” in RN care for patients, as base funding has been frozen for the fourth consecutive year. Nursing groups are raising alarm bells over the health ministry shifting some patient care from RNs to the “less-costly care” provided by RPNs and PSWs. McKenna provided the committee with statistics on RN cuts – 417 RN cuts in the first five months of 2015 – which she noted “cover most of your ridings.” ONA notes that the population has grown since 2003, the year the government references when it says it has increased the number of nurses in Ontario.
May 19: Kenora residents are upset about changes at Lake of the Woods Hospital. Many attended a union-organized town hall meeting that lasted more than two hours (Kenora Online, May 19, 2015). Ontario Nurses’ Association VP Vicki McKenna was one of the union leaders who spoke, and notes that Ontario is last out of the 10 Canadian provinces in health-care funding per capita. Earlier in the day, hospital management announced care hour cuts, job cuts and bed closures. Judy Bain, who has worked at the hospital for 31 years, said she has seen the number of beds shrink from 170 to 74. Following the town hall, 15 residents remained to volunteer on a newly formed health coalition.
May 20: Nursing unions are calling on the provincial government to spend more money on health care (Daily Miner & News, May 20, 2015). The Lake of the Woods Hospital announced it would cut care hours and jobs through attrition, close five hospital beds and combine the pediatric and obstetric units to save money. ONA and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions held a town hall meeting as well as a picket outside the hospital to draw attention to and protest the cuts. ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna says she is concerned with the state of Canada’s health care. “It dribbles away and before you know it you don’t have a service, you don’t have a hospital bed or you don’t have the care when you need it,” she said. McKenna says there is a great need for health-care services in this community, particularly in the summer when the population balloons. MPP Sarah Campbell attended the event and encouraged the community to sign her petition to protest cuts and frozen hospital budgets.
May 19: An opinion column (Cornwall Newswatch, May 19, 2015) says that unions, just one year after they supported Kathleen Wynne in the provincial election, are now protesting the actions of the party in power. ETFO spent $1.3 million in third-party election advertising during the election, campaigning against a PC government. The IBEW is a member of the Working Families Coalition, which spent $2.7 million in third-party advertising, and now members face potential workplace change as the plan to privatize up to 60 per cent of Hydro One moves forward. The Ontario Nurses’ Association – another Working Families member – has seen its members face job uncertainty as hospital budgets are stretched thin and the first place to cut is “personnel.” Unions are not getting what they bargained for from “the horse they did back,” the Kathleen Wynne-led Liberal government. “Ontario’s public-service unions…backed a party with a track record of biting that hand that feeds it.”
May 15: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has applied for conciliation in its talks with Algoma Public Health (Sault Star, May 15, 2015). The union says the two parties remain “miles apart” in negotiations. Diana Kutchaw, ONA Labour Relations Officer, says that “we have so many issues that are outstanding. We are so far apart on monetary aspects.” The next round of talks is set for June 2 and 3, and ONA says conciliation is to prepare for what’s next if upcoming talks fail. “Just having a third party involved can be beneficial,” says Kutchaw. The health unit’s CEO says that “every effort” is being made to reach a settlement. Commenting on past scandals at Algoma Public Health, Acting CEO Sandra Lacie said, “We have a very resilient staff at all levels within the organization and it’s my goal, as an organization, that Algoma Public Health will be the best organization that it can be.”
May 13: During national Nursing Week, CFRA AM in Ottawa calls attention to nursing positions that are on the chopping block at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) (May 13, 2015). “I get that, well, provincial mandate is that hospitals not run deficits, so they have to meet their budgets. And I get that, and I understand the pressures on the hospitals. But why is it nurses? I mean, the majority of cuts that we've heard of late from different hospitals have been nurses. Not admin staff, and not senior management. Not support staff. Not cleaning staff. I don't think you can, you know, get rid of cleaning staff. But the reality is, I mean, you know, hospitals employ a lot more than nurses.” In March ONA warned that more than 50 registered nursing positions were being cut by the cash-strapped hospital.
May 14: ONA is concerned about potential nursing cuts at Lake of the Woods District Hospital and the impact those cuts would have on patient care (Kenora Daily Miner and News, May 14, 2015). ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna will be speaking at a town hall meeting on May 19 at the Lakeside Inn, accompanied by CUPE regional vice-president Michael Hurley and local front-line registered nurses.
May 12: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is “locked in a war with the province over job cuts” (CBC London, May 12, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that nursing layoffs have cut 800,000 hours of RN care out of our health-care system this year alone. Haslam-Stroud is “incensed” that former Health Minister Deb Matthews questions the accuracy of those numbers. “These are hard and fast numbers of positions we have lost,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Four hundred and three.” She adds that nurses are working more overtime and taking on heavier workloads to care for patients.
May 12: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that she and her colleagues across Ontario continue to feel the pressures of RN cuts (CBC Radio London, May 12, 2015). The result of the 400 RN cuts (since January) is excessive overtime and a “troubling” increase in workplace violence. “We have nurses that are off work due to post-traumatic stress after being pummeled in the head with chairs, fire extinguishers, being punched, being stabbed with a sharp object a half an inch from their carotid artery, where they could have bled to death,” she said. She suggests that an increase in corporate taxes could be redirected to health care for some relief.
May 14: The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario says it will cut more than two dozen nursing positions but may be able to save some of those before the final decisions are made this summer (Ottawa Citizen, May 14, 2015). Currently, a plan is set to cut 27 full-time equivalent positions; the hospital must cut spending because it faces a $6.7-million budget shortfall. Last March, CHEO anticipated a much larger nurse layoff scenario and notified the Ontario Nurses’ Association. ONA criticized the plan, saying it would cause “more than 50” nursing layoffs and weaken patient care.
May 14: Ontario’s provincial government has promised more nursing visits as part of a 10-point plan to expand and improve home and community care (Windsor Star, May 14, 2015). Dr. Eric Hoskins announced the new approach; the plan increases funding by an additional $750 million over the next three years. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says “I think it’s a good-news story. We are going to be adding additional hours of nursing care into home care for our patients. That’s the No. 1 priority for us as nurses and advocates for our patients.” Erie St. Clair CCAC CEO Lori Marshall said she was “delighted to see the ministry’s response” to recommendations made earlier this year by a panel of health-care experts. Hoskins also announced a pilot project where patients can exercise more choice and control over their care providers. This would see the patient given the money to purchase their own care, a move that “set off alarm bells” for Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky. “It looks as though the minister is moving toward privatizing health care,” she said.
May 12: An opinion editorial in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (May 12, 2015) says that provincial finances are tight and “tough decisions have to be made,” but according to ONA, the brunt of the cuts to balance hospital budgets are hitting nurses. This week is Nursing Week, and “nurses are having a difficult time celebrating. That’s disappointing because these front-line health care workers contribute so much to quality care.” No one disputes that nurses are central to hospital care. The piece asks why the government is so “hell-bent on cutting their numbers.” The editorial suggests that a number of hospitals should be run by a regional administrative body to cut the cost of hospitals and provide more money for front-line care where it is needed. For now, “the Nursing Week theme of ‘Ontario Nurses. We’re Here For You’ rings hollow with the government. With the ongoing cuts, “will nurses really be here for you?” it asks.
May 11: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that she is very concerned about the plan to open Leamington hospital’s OB unit only when needed (CFCO News, May 11, 2015). The move will actually jeopardize patient care, and McKenna doesn’t believe much thought was put into the way the expert panel’s plan will be implemented. “To think that well, you know, if someone happens to come in, then we’ll somehow cobble together some staff and, you know, pull this all off, is really not a way to address that urgent need.”
May 12: As nurses across Ontario celebrate Nursing Week, they and the CFNU have also vowed to stand up for the country’s health-care system during the upcoming federal election (Nurses Newsline, May 12, 2015). For the first time in its history, the CFNU and the eight provincial nurses’ unions it represents, including ONA, will register as third-party advertisers. CFNU President Linda Silas says that the “needs of health-care services are increasing, especially as our population ages, yet budget cuts make it impossible to answer those needs.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says, “As nurses, we are patient advocates. Ontario has lost 800,000 hours of RN care this year alone, and we fully support the CFNU’s efforts to highlight the decline of health-care spending.” She notes that health care is not just a provincial issue, and “the funds come from Ottawa…we all need to make health care a priority on the federal level to ensure our patients receive the quality care they need and deserve.”
May 8: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that Algoma Public Health Nurses are the lowest-paid of all public health nurses in the province, and contract talks have not yet succeeded (CHBX TV, May 8, 2015). McKenna says the recent scandals involving Health Unit executives has “taken time and attention, and quite frankly, money that the public health unit is paying, dealing with administration difficulties, rather than the attention paid to what their business is, which…ensuring a good public health system in the Algoma area.” More talks are scheduled for May 19 and 20.
May 11: A letter to the editor of the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Herald (May 11, 2015) from Unifor Local 229 President Kari Jefford says that the IAC did not have anyone representing RPNs and that the panel is “a process for RNs to remind RNs to advocate for RNs.” Jefford writes that there have been substantive changes to the roles of RNs and RPNs in Ontario, and that ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud “objects to a staffing model in which RPN hours increase while RN hours decrease because “RN care is best for patients’ (and her members of course).”
May 11: A letter to the editor of the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Herald (May 11, 2015) from ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the CEO of Nipigon District Memorial Hospital is wrong that half his staff are nurses. In fact, there are a total of 19 full-time nurses at Nipigon, and just nine of those are registered nurses. The RNs, who belong to ONA, work collaboratively with the hospital’s RPNs (who belong to Unifor) to provide high-quality patient care. McKenna writes that she hopes the CEO will take a “sober second look” at the 25 recommendations made by the Independent Assessment Committee and work to implement them, thus making patient care the best it can be for the community.
May 8: The Ontario Nurses’ Association’s “Wear White Wednesdays” initiative is growing, and RNs have the option to wear white any day of the week (Windsor Star, May 8, 2015). Rosemary Petrakos, the VP of perioperative surgery for women and children at Windsor Regional Hospital, says that the movement began in Nova Scotia and the initiative is happening again during Nursing Week. ONA Bargaining Unit President Sue Sommerdyk says the CFNU has taken the initiative across Canada, and it’s to “add light to the fact we are registered nurses, as opposed to all the other health care professionals out there.” Traditionally, nurses wore white, but in the 1980s “workplaces got more relaxed about uniforms and colours, and they got rid of the caps…but we recognize that it was once upon a time a source of pride…” Sommerdyk says that “we want all RNs – union and non-union alike – to stand out and stand up for their patients and their profession.”
May 7: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that nurses are struggling to provide excellent patient care at Nipigon District Memorial Hospital (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, May 7, 2015). She says the hospital appears largely indifferent to the 25 recommendations made to improve working conditions. Hospital CEO Carl White said the hospital is adequately staffed, adding that half of the 100 full-time employees are nurses. He says he believes the hospital has “enough” nurses and put the ONA campaign down to a dispute between ONA and Unifor – a charge that McKenna says is absolutely false. Meanwhile, Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey said the municipality would like to see the hospital make the most of the panel’s recommendations. He says that he would like to “see as many implemented as possible.”
May 6: ONA says that talks between Algoma Public Health and its nurses “are not healthy” (Sault Star, May 6, 2015). The nurses sat down with the employer in late April. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says “they are trying to bargain, and it’s very difficult. They are very disappointed in the employer’s proposal and what they are bringing to the table.” ONA says that these nurses are the lowest-paid in the province, and McKenna says that they are “not looking for major gains here. They are just trying to catch up a little better, not fall further behind.” Talks will resume on May 20 and 21. McKenna suggested that the health unit’s finances could be in a bind due to current “legal wrangling” related to the turmoil that has plagued the organization. Earlier this year, it was revealed that the former interim CEO was a convicted felon. Subsequently, the medical officer of health resigned. Recently, the unit has been under fire for not releasing findings of a forensic report by KPMG to look into “concerns surrounding financial management and the safeguarding of employee information.” Nurses will hold an information picket at the May 20 board meeting. “Nurses understand the pressures on the system overall,” said McKenna, “but there seems to be so much outside collateral things happening that have relatively nothing to do with the work of public health.”
May 6: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has written an opinion editorial (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, May 6, 2015) asking whether Nipigon District Memorial Hospital cares about the safety of its patients. She notes that one year after an independent panel of nursing experts made 25 recommendations to improve patient care, just two of the recommendations have been implemented. The RNs at Nipigon hospital called for the panel to investigate as they were deeply concerned that RN staffing levels were inadequate for quality patient care. The panel recommended that staffing levels be increased, and a nursing human resources plan be developed, patient care quality be monitored and that infection control and occupational health and safety practices be improved. The fact that a year later, 92 per cent of the recommendations have been ignored is clearly unacceptable. Haslam-Stroud writes that RNs have devoted many hours to trying do the right thing for their patients but have “hit a brick wall” with Nipigon hospital management. She notes that ONA has put the hospital on notice that RNs will not give up. Efforts will not ease until patient care is safer.
May 5: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has launched a radio ad campaign as part of its efforts to garner public support on a “squeeze on hospital budgets” (Queen’s Park Briefing, May 5, 2015). The ads will air in 80 communities outside Toronto to raise awareness about funding pressures, which it says are weakening patient care and costing RN jobs in communities. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that RN cuts are happening as administrators balance the bottom line on the backs of nurses. She urges the province to increase funding for more RNs and “to meet the needs of our patients.” Prior to the release of the provincial budget, First VP Vicki McKenna told QP Briefing that the government needed to take a “serious re-look” at how hospitals are funded and include inflationary increases in the budget.
April 29: A group of London-area New Democrat MPPs including health critic France Gelinas held a round table discussion about health-care spending cuts at the local Ontario Nurses’ Association office (CFPL AM, April 29, 2015). A main concern coming out of the provincial budget is the negative impact that another year without base funding increases for Ontario hospitals will have on patient care. “What does this mean for London? London Health Sciences Centre has to find $26 million in cuts. We know they are planning to cut 97 full-time positions across hospital departments and another 24 full-time positions at St. Joseph’s,” says Gelinas.
April 30: The nurses at Lady Dunn Health Centre have embraced this year’s Nursing Week theme “Ontario Nurses. We’re Here For You” by organizing a food drive, collecting non-perishable items to donate to Iris Place (wawa-news.com, April 30, 2015). Iris Place is a drop-in centre that “offers a place for individuals with mental health and addiction issues to visit, receive a hot meal and if needed food to take home.” The nurses invite anyone who is interested in participating to drop off donations in a box outside the hospital cafeteria or to bring their donations directly to Iris Place at 22 Broadway Ave.
April 30: Some of the strongest criticism of the new provincial budget has come from the health-care sector, as concerns rise over the impact another year without increases for hospital funding will have on services (Arnprior EMC, April 30, 2015). The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) warns that cuts to hospital beds in Ontario already outpace almost anywhere else in Canada and the industrialized world. "Maternity units, entire wards, even entire hospitals are threatened with closure," says a recent OHC news release. "Despite all rhetoric and false claims, these are not services that are being replaced in community care." The Ontario Nurses’ Association has spoken out against the loss of RN positions at budget “starved” hospitals and the negative impact those nursing cuts have on patient health and safety.
April 24: ONA’s CEO/CAO Marie Kelly called in to The Craig Needles Show to respond to an earlier interview with Deputy Premier Deb Matthews about the Ontario budget (CFPL AM, April 24, 2015). Kelly reiterated ONA’s position that the lack of increase in base funding for hospitals in the budget is “disappointing” and added that Matthews was not “telling the full story” in her comments about nursing cuts in Ontario. “We are seeing the reduction of good, full time nursing jobs. So the Liberals can say all they want when they add five jobs, but if you add five jobs and they are less hours than the one job you've taken away because they are part time workers, it doesn't add up to the same care. What your listeners need to understand, and what they should care about, Craig, is whether or not they have the same amount of nursing hours in the hospital than they had last year and the year before.” She also challenged listeners to find RNs when they go to the hospital. “It's the nurse that's looking at you to judge your condition that you're in. And when they're not there on a regular basis, health care suffers.”
April 24: Deputy Premier Deb Matthews called in to The Craig Needles Show to respond to critics of the new provincial budget including ONA (CFPL AM, April 24, 2015). Matthews said that the budget is “really strong” and adds that the change in the health-care system which includes a shift away from hospital care is “pretty profound.” “So we've got too many people still in hospitals who don't need to be in hospital. So we're spending more on community care, to get people who are ready to go home or ready to go out of the hospital, the care they need outside of the hospital. Because obviously care in hospital is much more expensive than care in the community and at home. And it's not as high quality. It doesn't reflect where patients want to be.” Responding to claims that Ontario has the second lowest nurse-to-patient ratio in Canada, Matthews said that “people will run the stats in a way that benefits whatever the organization is that they represent” and that she thinks that ONA is “misleading the public” when the union talks about nursing job cuts. She said the focus should be on “net new jobs.”
April 24: The Ontario Nurses’ Association warns that the new provincial budget “starves hospitals” and will lead to increased rates of patient illness and death (CFPL AM, April 24, 2015).
April 28: Bargaining began this week for sixty-two ONA members at Algoma Public Health who have been without a contract since March (The Sault Star, April 28, 2015). The public health nurses are the lowest paid in the province.
April 24: As the Ontario government releases its budget for the coming year, ONA’s CEO/CAO Marie Kelly warns that another year of zero per cent increases in base funding for Ontario’s hospitals will put service at risk (CBC Radio 1, April 24, 2015). “You've heard enough about what's happening in our hospitals, hallway nursing, you've heard about layoffs of RNs. It's about time the government steps up, and puts some funding into hospitals where we need it the most.”
April 23: Striking Durham public high-school teachers were joined on the picket lines Thursday by members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CUPE (CBC News Toronto, April 23, 2015). About 1,900 teachers walked off the job last Monday after talks between the school board and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation failed.
April 23: ONA members joined Durham public high school teachers in solidarity on the picket lines Thursday as talks continue between the teachers’ union and the province (DurhamRegion.com, April 23, 2015). “Teachers and nurses’ work grows the economy,” says ONA vice-president Pam Mancuso, who is a front-line nurse at the Sault Area Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie. “It’s especially important to remember this on budget day when some elected representatives try to blame front-line professionals for budget pressures in order to distract people from their bad corporate tax policies.”
April 23: The Ontario Health Coalition warns that rampant bed closures at Ontario hospitals, including the loss of 20 acute-care beds at Sault Area Hospital (SAH), are the result of an “irresponsible” decision by the government to redirect funding to cheaper, community-based care (Sault This Week, April 23, 2015). "No one else is cutting hospital beds that are operating hospitals at 100 percent capacity or more," says OHC executive director Natalie Mehra. "In Sault Ste. Marie, you have 20 beds in acute care that are being closed, which is shocking considering how full the hospital is and how patients wait regularly in stretchers for beds. We hear from staff and patients the hospital is full, and it's full all the time.” ONA Local 46 Coordinator Glenda Hubley says that cutting nursing staff at SAH increases the remaining nurses’ workloads, which in turn increases the risk of patients suffering from complications and death.
April 24: Jim Wilson, the interim leader of the Ontario PC Party, warns that the Liberal government has “overspent its way into a corner” meaning service cuts are inevitable, with some already occurring (The Kirkland Lake Northern News, April 24, 2015). "How many people are going to lose their jobs," Wilson said. "We've already seen, according to the Ontario Nurses’ Association, 409 nurses since February, registered nurses across the province, lose their job."
April 24: Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault praises the Ontario budget for “creating jobs and increasing economic growth” and says that while the Ontario Health Coalition has decried cuts to health-care services including lost nursing hours and hospital beds, the Liberals have actually created 24,000 more nursing positions and hired 5,600 new doctors (The Sudbury Star, April 24, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud warns that in fact, "Ontario RNs, members of ONA, have seen their ranks cut by more than 400 -- the equivalent of close to 800,000 hours of quality RN care in 2015 alone, as hospitals anticipated this fourth year of funding freezes contained in the budget.” ONA was quick to denounce “another consecutive year of hospital funding freezes” which will mean “that registered nurses will be cut, leaving hospital patients in Ontario at an increased risk of complications and even death."
April 24: A “double-edged” budget prioritizes deficit reduction and improvements to infrastructure at the expense of other programs including health care, giving Ontario one of the slowest health-care growth rates in Canada (The Globe and Mail, April 24, 2015). While representatives of the Ontario Hospital Association warn that the next couple of years will be “very challenging times for hospitals”, ONA is worried about the impact on patient care as RN positions are cut to reduce hospital spending. Since the start of 2015, 409 RN jobs have already been chopped. "It's deplorable, quite frankly," says ONA CEO/CAO Marie Kelly. "It is not going to get better in Ontario until the Liberal government steps up to the plate and actually starts to appropriately fund health care in our hospitals."
April 23: ONA’s CEO/CAO Marie Kelly says the Union is “disappointed” that the new Ontario budget means a fourth year without an increase to hospital base funding and warns that this will have a negative impact on patient care (CP24, April 23, 2015). “It's going to be higher rates of morbidity and mortality…There's going to be increased bedsores, increased ulcers, increased cardiac arrest. All of these things go up when we don't have a proper ration from RN to patient. Ontario has the second lowest level in the country of RNs to patients. Only BC is behind us. And if we don't get some serious increase to hospital funding, we are going to fall behind BC, and patients will suffer.”
April 23: As the release date for the provincial budget approached, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) held a news conference at Queen’s Park to decry ongoing hospital cuts and bed closures (Metro, April 23, 2015). The coalition warns that patients are being put at risk and even being forced to pay out of pocket for services slashed from hospitals. The OHC and ONA have been some of the loudest critics of cuts to hospitals. In a speech to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, ONA’s first vice-president Vicki McKenna warned that cuts to RN positions “completely ignore the evidence linking RN care to improved health outcomes for patients.”
April 24: This year’s Ontario health budget of $50.8 billion –which includes a boost of 5 per cent for home and community care- represents an increase of just 1.2 per cent, down from last year’s increase of 2.5 per cent (Toronto Star, April 24, 2015). The budget did not highlight any changes to base funding for the province’s 149 hospitals which is expected to stay frozen, and Finance Minister Charles Sousa “repeatedly dodged the question.” This is bad news for front-line workers including registered nurses whose jobs will be on the chopping block as hospitals struggle to balance their books. ONA warns that since the beginning of 2012, 1,743 RN positions have been eliminated across Ontario. ONA’s CEO/CAO Marie Kelly says the government has “given up on health care in hospitals.”
April 22: Ontario has the among the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in Canada and across the developed world (Toronto Star, April 22, 2015). Downsizing hospitals and diverting resources to home, community and long-term care is central to the provincial government’s plan to transform the health system. But “selling the idea to the public is another matter.” The Ontario Health Coalition held a news conference outside Queen’s Park last week to decry ongoing hospital cuts. It is one of more than 50 health stakeholders that made oral or written pre-budget submissions to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs, “making compelling arguments as to why their causes are deserving of more public dollars.” Patients are being put at risk, they say, and forced increasingly to pay more out of pocket for some services no longer available in hospitals. Today’s budget will likely continue to freeze funding. The Ontario Health Coalition says that a “significant portion of Ontario’s hospitals in larger communities are gridlocked. This means the hospital’s beds are full. Surgeries have to be cancelled and there are no beds in which patients can recover.” Meanwhile, the Ontario Nurses’ Association points out that 1,743 RNs have seen their jobs eliminated since 2012. “The cuts we’re seeing to RN positions completely ignore the evidence linking RN care to improved health outcomes for patients,” says Vicki McKenna, first vice-president of ONA. Like the nurses, the Ontario Medical Association says that province’s treatment of the profession is placing patients at risk. In long-term care, understaffing combined with an increasing number of aggressive dementia patients is making for a dangerous mix as well.
April 22: The Ontario government is eliminating RN jobs, courting labour unrest with teachers and clawing back social services as it seeks to dig itself out of deficit (Globe and Mail, April 22, 2015). While the Premier touts her new transit plans, much of her fiscal plan involves making serious cuts, indicating that she is serious about balancing the budget. However, the Globe says it also “runs counter to the Liberals’ constant rhetoric about protecting services” and also ”bears a striking resemblance to the government-shrinking platform of the Progressive Conservatives in last year’s election.” Today’s budget will likely contain more of the same. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says a total of more than 400 RN jobs have been chopped since the start of 2015. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “We don’t have the appropriate number of nurses to monitor our patients.” PC critic Vic Fedeli says he favours scrapping government subsidies to business to deal with the deficit.
April 22: The President and CEO of Sault Area Hospital says the staffing changes announced earlier this year often “reflected staff counsel” (The Sault Star, April 22, 2015). Ron Gagnon says that the placement of more “real” around-the-clock on-site supervision was in part the product of what hospital brass heard during consultations, often from staff. Unions representing many of the staff who will be cut voiced criticism, as did the Ontario Health Coalition. Gagnon defended the plan, saying that the hospital has pruned managers, directors and other patient-care coordinators, and has been replaced them with “front-line” supervisors to whom front-line staff will have heightened access. Gagnon says the changes have “enhanced” patient care. The hospital is cutting 42 employees – 35 full-time and seven part-time – including 13 full-time and one part-time RNs. The Ontario Nurses’ Association and Unifor have been critical.
April 21: Sault Area Hospital will receive $10-million less in government funding this year, and the hospital has announced the elimination of 35 staff positions, including front-line nurses and the closure of an estimated 56 beds (Sault This Week, April 21, 2015). Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, says that Ontario is “dead last” among provinces in per-capita funding of its hospitals. The province also has the fewest hospital beds in the country and the worst overcrowding. Mehra says the government has muzzled criticism and prevented hospital CEOs and administrators from saying anything; those who have spoken out have been “replaced by supervisors, had their hospitals taken over, their boards wiped out, their careers ruined.” She also warned that the federal government has refused to negotiate the Canada Health Accord and transfer payments to the province are at an all-time low. Glenda Hubley, ONA Local 46 coordinator, says cutting nursing staff increases the risk of patients suffering from complications and death. “Complications rise by seven per cent for every extra patient added to an average RN’s workload,” she said.
April 20: Some who work in nursing homes say that training and workplace conditions must improve (Hill Times, April 20, 2015). Carole Estabrooks, a professor at the University of Alberta school of nursing, says that a favourable work environment is “a major contributor to both work-life and quality of care.” She has just released a report called “Who is Looking After Mom and Dad?” that shows a link between the well-being of nursing home workers who have the most contact with residents and the quality of care. She notes that most nursing home employees are PSWs, and unlike RNs and RPNs, they are not regulated. Burnout in the workforce is high. Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, says that ONA does not believe that PSWs need to be regulated. However, she says that more RNs should be hired by nursing homes where there may be more of a reliance on PSWs. “If you really want to make sure our elderly are appropriately assessed and we don’t end up with crises taking place – we can prevent the crises because we have the right skill level of care providers doing some oversight – you need more RNs,” she said. She adds that residents suffer less pneumonia, bedsores, ulcers and fewer medication errors occur when more RNs provide care. “If you can imagine a home that has 150 patients, there is no opportunity for one RN to potentially get around and see each of these residents each day,” she said. She urged that for-profit long-term care homes should be redirecting profit into investing in the residents and the workforce.
April 18: A letter to the editor of the London Free Press (April 18, 2015) says that ONA members at the area’s CCAC have continued to read “reader comments about the 17-day strike.” The RNs and health professionals note that some of the comments are accurate, some lack knowledge, some angry and some full of praise. The letter explains who was on strike, what they do and makes clear that all provide direct care. The ONA members also write that the strike was “about fairness and respect” and adds that they did not strike “easily as we are dedicated to providing care in our communities. We do the job we do because we love it, but realistically, we all have to earn a living and need to be fairly compensated.”
April 10: Stressed-out home care workers have shared their concerns about overwhelming workloads with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath (St. Catharines Standard, April 10, 2015). The leader heard from RNs, one of whom described working conditions at Niagara hospitals as like being trapped in a rush-hour traffic jam in Toronto. Many are concerned about losing their local south Niagara hospital. At a town hall meeting held in Welland, Horwath says these concerns are similar to those she has heard in other parts of the province. She says that the Liberals – who keep saying they’re putting money into health care – must be “doing something awfully wrong if they keep putting more money into health care and yet the services continue to erode.” Needs are increasing in Niagara, with its aging population. The front-line workers are stressed out and very worried, and the public has become concerned that health care is not available for them in the way it used to be, she says. Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 26 President Loretta Tirabassi-Olinski said that Niagara Health System RNs have felt the pressure of underfunded community-health services. “As a health-care worker, I always feel like I’m in a traffic jam in Toronto,” she said. “I think our political and health-care leaders need to realize that we’re not dealing with the same animal that we were even five years ago.” She says the province promised to enhance community health-care programs to take some of the pressure off of hospitals. Tirabassi-Olinski says “you guys lied to us. You told us you were going to give us some home care and give us some relief.”
April 8: There is a $5.5-million gap in funding at Brockville General Hospital, and while some savings have been found, more are needed (CKWS TV Kingston, April 8, 2015). CEO Tony Weeks says the hospital is hoping work groups will help deliver some of the savings.The Ontario Nurses’ Association is concerned about potential RN cuts and their impact on patient care. ONA’s Anne Clark said “I think they need to look at where all the other places [are that] they could save money. But it always seems that the first ones they cut are the people who actually do the hands-on care of the citizens of Ontario.” The hospital has already cut six full-time non-clinical jobs and five management jobs. It is moving to a new lower-cost laundry service and a condensed work week for ambulatory care.
April 9: The April 1st press released issued by the Ontario Nurses’ Association was not a joke – the Espanola and Area Family Health Team will head to mediation on April 9 in “an effort to avoid a strike” (Espanola Mid-North Monitor, April 9, 2015). ONA represents 14 health care providers at the organization, including RNs, NPs, a dietitian, social worker and medical reception workers. Vicki McKenna, First Vice-President of ONA, says they are looking for a fair deal. ONA says that some of the workers have not received a pay increase since 2007 and McKenna says that, “they love their work and in some cases have gone years without any kind of wage increase. They’re not asking for double-digit increases.” A strike can occur legally as early as April 12. ONA has created an on-line petition to express support for part- and full-time health workers. The workers will vote on a proposed offer on April 10 at 4:45 pm.
April 9: Unionized care coordinators in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent are receiving a raise (Courier Press, April 9, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members were awarded two years of consecutive 1.4-per-cent increases by arbitrator William Kaplan. The decision comes following a 17-day strike. Workers at two northern Ontario CCACs will receive an additional two-per-cent increase in year two, to “help them catch up with their southern counterparts,” according to ONA.
April 9: CCAC workers have a deal and are back at work (Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin, April 9, 2015). An arbitration decision from William Kaplan has given the Ontario Nurses’ Association members in seven southern Ontario CCACs – including North Simcoe Muskoka – a 1.4-per-cent increase in each of two years, retroactive to April 1, 2014. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the award “acknowledges our highly skilled and valuable RNs and health professionals, giving them the respect they so rightly deserve.” She went on to berate the employers for initially preferring that CCAC employees freeze on the picket lines in minus 30-degree temperatures and “impact our patients and families who rely on community health care…”
April 9: More than 100 non-union staff employed by Northumberland County will receive a 1.85-per-cent increase retroactive to January 1 (Brighton Independent, April 9, 2015). Meanwhile, the county and the Ontario Nurses’ Association are in arbitration over increases to be paid to nursing staff at the Golden Plough Lodge. The county treasurer says that “maintaining competitive compensation practices enables the county to attract and retain qualified staff.”
April 8: Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent care coordinators are among 3,000 CCAC employees at nine provincial sites with new wage agreements (Chatham This Week, April 8, 2015). Arbitrator William Kaplan sided with the Ontario Nurses’ Association and awarded two years of consecutive 1.4-per-cent wage increases. On top of the 1.4 per cent, workers at two northern Ontario CCACs will receive an additional two per cent in year two of the contract.
April 5: A new collective agreement has been reached between ONA and nine CCACs (CJBN TV Kenora, April 5, 2015). About 3,000 care coordinators, including those in Kenora and Thunder Bay, went on strike January 30. An arbitrator has now ruled that the workers will receive a 1.4-per-cent wage increase in both 2014 and 2015, and those in northern Ontario will receive an additional two per cent.
April 2: With “only weeks to go” before the provincial spring budget, the Ontario Nurses’ Association says that alarm bells are ringing for Ontario nurses as they anticipate a further squeeze on hospital budgets that will weaken patient care and cost jobs (Queen’s Park Briefing, April 2, 2015). “It’s an onslaught every day of, not anger, but frustration and concern,” said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. She says that RNs are not as much concerned about their own jobs as they are about their patients and the “environment I have to practice in and how I feel about the care that I can provide.” When nurses cannot provide they care they feel they should be providing, “that’s when the alarm bells start ringing, and they’re ringing,” she said. ONA has been waging a campaign to get public support against cuts to hospital budgets, which it says has led to lost nursing jobs in Ottawa, London, Kitchener and many other communities across Ontario. McKenna says the government needs to take a “serious re-look” at how hospitals are funded and provide inflationary increases, if nothing else, and notes that ONA is concerned that the upcoming budget will be more of the same. ONA says that the government’s claim that 24,000 more nurses are working now than in 2003 doesn’t tell the whole story. More nurses doesn’t take into account the number of hours they work, and nursing hours have been cut. She says that ONA is now discussing strategy if the provincial budget doesn’t fund health care adequately.
April 1: ONA is sounding the alarms as cuts to the ranks of RNs at provincial hospitals continue unabated (Nurses’ Newsline, April 1, 2015). Grand River Hospital in Kitchener and Southlake Regional Health Centre are each reducing their nursing ranks to balance their budgets. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that’s not only horrible for the RNs, but for patient care. Cutting tens of thousands of hours of RN care “flies in the face of all scientific and research evidence about the impact of RN care on patient outcomes,” she says. ONA is becoming increasingly concerned about the ability of RNs and NPs to be able to provide safe, quality patient care. “In the last couple of weeks alone, hospitals in Ottawa, Sudbury, Brockville, Newmarket and Cambridge have cut RN care,” said Haslam-Stroud.
April 3: In an opinion piece in The Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin Carol Mulligan writes that she hopes administrators at Health Sciences North (HSN) have realized the importance of full disclosure when it comes to delivering bad news, specifically their recent announcement of plans to cut tens of thousands of nursing hours (April 3, 2015). Mulligan says that the hospital “fumbled the ball” when it announced that the cuts would not hurt patient care. More than 300 residents attended a town-hall meeting to speak out against the cuts, organized by the Ontario Health Coalition. By the time the hospital finally released detailed information about the positions being cut, the rally, which saw audience members whipped into “a full frenzy,” was over. A total of 35.45 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated including members of ONA, CUPE, and OPSEU. Meanwhile the number of Sunshine List qualifiers at HSN rose from 130 in 2013 to 179 in 2014. The hospital has also increased the number of vice-presidents, another “bitter pill for Sudburians to swallow.”
April 2: St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) will now allow family members to visit patients around the clock (St. Thomas Times-Journal, April 2, 2015). Hospital officials say the decision to abolish visiting hours means that family members will become “partners in care” resulting in better care for patients, both at the hospital and after they are released. ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the presence of family members at the bedside is generally “more than welcome and appreciated” by nurses.
April 1: After months of failed negotiations culminating in a 17-day strike, ONA members at nine Ontario CCACs have received an arbitration award with salary increases “identical to what they were originally seeking” (CKPC FM, April 1, 2015).
April 6: Arbitrator William Kaplan has released his decision for 3,000 ONA members working at nine CCACs across Ontario (The Belleville Intelligencer, April 6, 2015). The award comes after workers spent 17 days on the picket lines, braving brutally cold weather to fight for “respect and recognition for the valuable and essential” work they do. "Mr. Kaplan's award acknowledges our highly skilled and valuable RNs and health professionals, giving them respect they so rightly deserve," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. The award gives ONA members at seven southern CCACs a 1.4-per-cent increase in each of two years. Workers at two northern CCACs will receive a 1.4-per-cent increase in the first year followed by a 3.4-per-cent increase in year two to bring them in line with their colleagues in the south.
April 7: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Espanola and Area Family Health Team will head to mediation on April 9 in an effort to avoid a labour disruption that would see 14 health-care professionals forced out on the picket lines (Mid-North Monitor, April 7, 2015). ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the ONA members are just looking for a fair deal. “They love their work and in some cases have gone years without any kind of wage increase,” she said. “They’re not asking for double digit increases.” Negotiations continue as the legal strike deadline of April 12 approaches.
April 1: Ontario Today (CBC, April 1, 2015) has focused on hospital cuts. People across the province are hearing of cuts to services and nurses and this week, hospitals in the GTA and Hamilton, Ottawa, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Whitby, Kitchener-Waterloo, and elsewhere are making cuts. The Ontario Nurses’ Association is reporting RN cuts at Southlake in Newmarket. The NDP says that after years of restraint, patient care is at risk. Now, the Ontario Health Coalition has created a province-wide map of hospital cuts that sums up the staff cuts, bed cuts, ward closures and hospital closures that are happening right now in the province. Natalie Mehra says it’s important to fully report on what the “picture looks like.” The CBC noted that media releases from ONA today told of cuts at Grand River Hospital, Southlake Regional and tens of thousands of hours of RN care being cut.
April 1: An opinion editorial in the Kitchener Post (April 1, 2015) says that anybody paying attention to Queen’s Park should realize that job cuts are coming. Those institutions that rely on funding from the province are the first indicators of a funding freeze that “will trickle down through the wider public sector.” The latest local example is the front-line nurses at Grand River Hospital who are among those 45 staff receiving lay-off notices. The piece says that while many of the positions being cut are now vacant, eventually, “when all those positions are eliminated, the real cuts will come.”
April 2: More than 100 Northumberland County staff have been given a 1.85-per-cent wage increase retroactive to January 1 (Campbellford EMC, April 2, 2015). The non-union staff account for 116 full- and part-time positions. In addition, the Ontario Nurses’ Association is in arbitration over increases to be paid to nursing staff at Golden Plough Lodge. Other union contracts expired March 31.
April 1: A $9-million fiscal shortfall at Southlake Regional Health Centre means nurses are the “first to feel the pinch” (Newmarket Era, April 1, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that savings will be found, in part, by slashing 17 RN positions. ONA says the cuts amount to 32,000 hours of care lost per year; Southlake also plans to reduce services and close beds. “Years of frozen funding for hospitals and a new funding formula have resulted in short-sighted cuts to RN staff that are seriously compromising patient care,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna said that remaining nurses will be forced to care for more patients, and that could expose patients to longer wait times, an increased risk of medication errors, or medical complications such as bedsores, cardiac arrest, pneumonia, sepsis, ulcers and blood clots. She asks how cuts can “not affect patient care? Hospitals are in the business of delivering patient care and they’re reducing the number of registered nurses at the bedside. There’s no other way to cut this cake up.”
March 31: The “cold 17-day strike by 3,000 unionized care coordinators” has paid off (CHOK AM Sarnia, CFCO AM Chatham, CJQM FM Sault Ste. Marie, CFGX FM Sarnia, CJBK AM London, CHAS FM Sault Ste. Marie, 97.5 Virgin Radio London, CKDO AM Oshawa, CBC London, CKNX Wingham, CFRA Ottawa, March 31, 2015). An arbitrator has awarded them two years of consecutive 1.4-per-cent wage increases retroactive to April 2014.
March 31: CJOY AM Guelph (March 31, 2015) reports that Ontario Nurses’ Association members working at CCACs have received a raise. They were on strike earlier this year, including the 267 workers in the Waterloo Region and Wellington County.
March 31: A provincial arbitrator has awarded workers with CCACs in northern Ontario a raise (CHCH TV, March 31, 2015). The Ontario nurses were on strike for 17 days before entering arbitration.
April 1: Ontario doctors and nurses are “hammering the government” over cuts to medical services and lost jobs (Queen’s Park Briefing, April 1, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association issued statements that say patient care is jeopardized by the province trying to keep a lid on its $50-billion in health care spending by squeezing hospital budgets. ONA says RN positions are being cut at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, along with 72 RN positions at hospitals in Cambridge and Ottawa, among others. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the cuts – due to frozen funding and a new hospital funding formula – are “short-sighted…and seriously compromising patient care.”
March 30: Ontario Nurses’ Association’s CCAC members at nine provincial organizations have a new collective agreement, reached through interest arbitration (Nurses’ Newsline, March 30, 2015). Following a strike, the nine CCACs and ONA agreed to send the dispute to arbitration. The decision gives the care coordinators and health professionals a 1.4-per-cent wage increase in each of two years, and those at two Northern Ontario CCACs receive an additional two-per-cent increase in the second year.
April 1: Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault will meet with Health Sciences North officials next week to discuss the impact the provincial budget will have on hospital operations and patient care (Sudbury Star, April 1, 2015). The hospital has cut $5.1 million from its 2015-16 budget and cut 35 positions, most of them nurses. The Ontario Nurses’ Association and Ontario Health Coalition have been vocal about how cutting as many as 85,000 hours of nursing care will hurt patients. Thibeault said hospital officials have told him that no nurses will be laid off.
March 30: CBC Radio 1 Sudbury (March 30, 2015) reports that ONA members working in CCACs in Ontario have an arbitration decision that has “come down in their favour.” The nurses and health professionals were on strike earlier this year for 17 days. The nurses say the arbitrator has awarded a 1.4-per-cent increase in each of two years, and Northern Ontario workers will receive an additional two-per-cent increase in year two.
March 31: About 2,800 nurses and health workers from nine CCACs received the wage increases they say they were looking for through an arbitration decision released Monday (Queen’s Park Briefing, March 31, 2015). Arbitrator William Kaplan ruled that ONA members in seven CCACs will receive a 1.4-per-cent increase in each of the two years of the contract, and those working at two Northern Ontario CCACs will also receive an additional two-per-cent increase in the second year. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the decision “acknowledges our highly skilled and valuable RNs and health professionals, giving them the respect they so rightly deserve.” The CCACs’ spokesperson Megan Allan-Lamb says that “we are disappointed that the arbitrator ignored the freely negotiated settlements in our sector…with CUPE, OPSEU and ONA members at the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant CCAC.”
March 31: The Northwest CCAC is one of nine CCACs in the province to finalize collective agreements with ONA (Daily Miner & News, March 31, 2015). The new agreement impacts about 130 CCAC care coordinators and comes following a strike during February. The care coordinators returned to work when ONA and the CCACs agreed to arbitration. The ONA members in the Northwest CCAC will receive a 1.4-per-cent increase retroactive to April 1, 2014 followed by a second 1.4-per-cent increase April 1, 2015. Northwest and Northeast CCAC workers will also receive a two-per-cent Northern Premium. The last collective agreement included a two-year wage freeze.
March 31: More than 3,000 CCAC workers have received an arbitrator’s decision that gives them a 1.4-per-cent raise in each of two years (CTV London, March 31, 2015). Earlier this year, the Ontario Nurses’ Association members were on strike at nine CCACs for 17 days. The strike was about achieving respect and recognition, the union says, for the valuable and essential work the RNs and health professionals provide in the community. They returned to work after an agreement was reached to send the dispute to arbitration. William Kaplan has now determined that the RNs and health professionals will receive the raise they had sought; workers at two northern Ontario CCACs will also receive an extra two-per-cent increase in year two, providing them with a degree of catch-up pay with their southern counterparts. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the award gives them the respect they “so rightly deserve.” She notes that the contract expires on March 31, 2016 and says she hopes that the employers will rethink their approach in the next round of bargaining.
March 31: A provincial arbitrator has released a decision impacting more than 3,000 workers at nine Ontario CCACs (Broadcast News, March 31, 2015). ONA says the decision means that members in northern Ontario will get raises over two years that will give them a degree of catch-up pay with their southern counterparts. A spokesperson for the CCACs says they are disappointed that the arbitrator ignored negotiated settlements achieved at the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant CCAC.
March 31: ONA members working for the North East CCAC are among 3,000 health-care workers who have been awarded a wage increase by an arbitrator (Sudbury Star, March 31, 2015). William Kaplan ruled that ONA members in seven southern Ontario CCACs will get a 1.4-per-cent increase in each of two years, and ONA members in two northern Ontario CCACs will receive 1.4 per cent in year one and 3.4 per cent in year two.
March 31: The Windsor Star (March 31, 2015) reports that an arbitrator has ruled in favour of more than 3,000 workers at nine CCACs in Ontario. Earlier this year, RNs and health professionals at the CCACs went on strike for 17 days before agreeing to return and send their wage dispute to arbitration. William Kaplan has now ruled that the RNs and health professionals should receive a 1.4-per-cent increase in each year of a two-year agreement. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the arbitrator’s award “acknowledges our highly skilled and valuable RNs and health professionals, giving them respect they so rightly deserve.”
March 31: About 3,000 community health workers – including 267 in Waterloo Region and Wellington County – “got what they wanted from arbitration” (Waterloo Region Record, March 31, 2015). ONA members in seven southern Ontario bargaining units got 1.4-per-cent increases, and those in two northern Ontario bargaining units will receive a 3.4-per-cent increase in year two to help them catch up to the wages of their southern counterparts. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the arbitrator “acknowledged our highly skilled and valuable registered nurses and health professionals, giving them the respect they so rightly deserve.” She said the 17-day strike by the CCAC workers “should have been avoided. It wasted taxpayers’ money and caused our patients and families to suffer. However, the employer left us with no choice.”
March 31: An ONA official with the North East CCAC says an arbitrator’s decision is “beyond anything I expected” (North Bay Nugget, March 31, 2015). Jennifer Hunt says the ONA members there were given a 1.4-per-cent increase in years one and two of a new agreement, and an extra amount for for the north. The CCAC workers walked off the job for 17 days this year. Hunt says the arbitrator’s decision “acknowledges the respect we deserve.” She adds that the ability to pay was never an issue in negotiations, so job cuts are not anticipated with this settlement. In his ruling, arbitrator William Kaplan said it is hard to see why and how clerical and service agreements should establish the pattern for these “overwhelmingly professional bargaining units.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that, “all along, we wanted to negotiate a fair contract after taking a two-year wage freeze in the last contract, but these employers would rather we froze on the picket lines in minus-30 temperatures and impact our patients and families who rely on community health care…”
March 31: Unionized care coordinators in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent are among the 3,000 workers in nine provincial CCACs getting a raise (Chatham Daily News, March 31, 2015). Arbitrator William Kaplan has decided that the ONA members will receive two years of consecutive 1.4-per-cent increases retroactive to 2014. The decision follows a 17-day strike; an arbitration hearing was held earlier this month. Members at two northern Ontario CCACs are getting an extra two-per-cent increase effective April 1 to help them catch up with their southern counterparts.
March 27: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that cutting nurses worsens care and increases risks to patients, leaving workers and employers liable (Belleville Intelligencer, March 27, 2015). However, administrators say that Quinte Health Care’s proposed, controversial new model of care “will provide better care at a cheaper price.” Katherine Stansfield, QHC’s chief nursing officer and VP of patient services, told the board that labour costs for the hospital “were quite high.” The current model is comprised of 70 per cent RNs and 30 per cent RPNs. The new model will be 60:40 and if implemented this spring, will cut the number of RNs while increasing the number of RPNs and PSWs. “We’re adding hours of care but at a lower cost,” says Stansfield.
March 25: ONA Bargaining Unit President Kelly Latimer has spoken out at a public meeting about cuts to health care (CTV News, March 25, 2015). Latimer says that she has been issued seven layoff notices by Health Sciences North to date, and she’s been given notice of 35 FTE RN positions being cut. Many RNs are feeling “worried about the future of their profession.” Kathie Phalen, RN, says that while she is looking to retire soon, she is concerned about what will happen to the nurses just beginning their careers.
March 25: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that 39 full-time and part-time RN positions will be lost as Health Sciences North tries to balance its budget (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, March 25, 2015). The Ontario Health Coalition is trying to “ramp up” support from citizens to prevent the cuts from happening, and local residents along with others spoke up at public meeting. Kim McNabb, an RN and nursing professor said that there must be transparency from the hospital about where the cuts are being made and how management is making its decisions. She also is concerned that she’s not heard of management cuts and asks why cuts aren’t being made “from the top down.”
March 25: The nurses’ union says that job cuts announced at the Ottawa Hospital will impact patient care (CBC Radio 1 Ottawa, March 25, 2015). The hospital is cutting 35 people, including nurses, to help cover a $26-million deficit. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says these cuts can’t help but affect patient care. “The reality is that there’s still going to be less registered nurses working in these programs where they’re making reductions. And their peers that are left behind are going to be carrying heavier workloads.”
March 26: ONA Local 14 president Kelly Latimer says that existing nursing staff at Health Sciences North are having a hard time keeping up with patient volume now, and the prospect of more RN cuts to balance the books will impact patient care (Sudbury Star, March 26, 2015). “You should never cut direct bedside jobs,” she told a crowd of about 300 attending an Ontario Health Coalition public meeting. Even if no nurses lose their jobs, the overall reduction in nursing hours means fewer nurses will have to do more, and patients will receive less care. Meanwhile, the hospital maintains that “none of the changes we’ve made in this budget are going to reduce the quality of care for our patients.” OHC head Natalie Mehra says that “these are cuts on top of cuts on top of cuts over decades now,” and that Ontario already has the lowest nursing staff levels and fastest discharges in Canada. “We have the least amount of hospital care left, and to pretend more cuts don’t affect patient care is, I think, shocking.” She says the group is there to help Health Sciences North, not to fight with them, but that their statements about the loss of nursing care hours not affecting patient care have to be challenged. Kim McNab, RN and a nursing professor at Laurentian University, said that there is no transparency when it comes to cutting costs.
March 26: The Ontario Nurses’ Association has warned that as many as 42 nursing positions – equivalent to 85,000 hours of nursing care – will be cut to balance the budget of Health Sciences North (Sudbury Star, March 26, 2015). Now, the hospital is releasing a document that lays out how it believes it can cut $5.1 million from its budget without impacting patient care. ONA Local 14 Bargaining Unit President Kelly Latimer spoke to a gathering of 300 at a public forum organized by the Ontario Health Coalition this week, and she says that the government’s plan is to “send more care into the community.” However, existing nursing staff at Health Sciences North are having a difficult time keeping up with patient volume as it is. She told the crowd that “you should never cut direct bed-side jobs,” and that even if no nurses lose their jobs, the overall reduction of nursing hours means that fewer nurses have to do more, leaving patients with less care.
March 26: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is warning that Brockville General Hospital does not have enough nurses and should be careful about making front-line staffing cuts (Brockville Recorder & Times, March 26, 2015). ONA says that BGH RNs are “increasingly concerned about the fate of patient care and services as the possibility of RN cuts loom.” Hospital president and CEO Tony Weeks says the hospital has not reduced its staff and management is not currently looking at a plan to cut nurses. However, he would not rule out that layoffs will occur in future. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says the possibility that the hospital’s maternal/child unit could be cut is “a big wake-up call, I hope, for the community…” Currently, the hospital is calling on staff to find efficiencies to help resolve a $1.8-million deficit. McKenna says that the short-staffing that is a regular occurrence at BGH is caused by a structural problem – the hospital is not recruiting RNs fast enough when positions are vacant, and doesn’t adjust staffing levels for the new reality: that most Ontario hospitals are now regularly at or above capacity. McKenna sympathizes with hospital administrators over the deficit challenges, but she adds that front-line staffing cuts are too often the easy option. “You have to put the patient at the centre of your decision-making,” she said.
March 26: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says the 50 job cuts planned at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario will come from the roster of RNs (West Carleton EMC, March 26, 2015). ONA says that CHEO will cut more than 50 RN positions this year to help “close a $6.7-million budget gap.” Earlier this month, the hospital said it would cut between two and three per cent of its workforce of 1,750. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says there is little doubt that patient care will be affected by front-line cuts. She estimated that 90,000 hours a year of nursing care will be gone.
March 24: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that Health Sciences North is cutting dozens of RN positions and the hospital “isn’t alone in struggling with its books” (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, March 24, 2015). NDP MPP Catherine Fife raised the issue at Queen’s Park yesterday, noting that CHEO has laid off 50 RNs, 42 were being cut in Sudbury, 22 in Cambridge, 15 in Leamington, 18,000 hours of RN care cut in New Liskeard, and PSWs were also losing their jobs in many communities. In response, Premier Kathleen Wynne said the government is investing in health care, has built 23 new hospitals, hired 5,000 more doctors and 24,000 more nurses.
March 25: The Sudbury Health Coalition is urging the public to fight cuts of potentially thousands of staffing hours at Health Sciences North (CBC News, March 25, 2015). The group says that patient care will be impacted and is trying to prevent the cuts. Hundreds of Sudbury residents attended a public meeting held by the Health Coalition and expressed anger at hospital management. Staff also attended, with RPN Tracy Labelle-Robichaud saying she’s being displaced from her position. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that 39 full-time and five part-time RN positions will be lost. No hospital managers spoke at the meeting, but said in a media release that “none of the efficiency measures are expected to result in nurses being [laid off] at the hospital.”
March 25: A letter to the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times (March 25, 2015) from a group of RNs and Care Coordinators working for the South West CCAC says that they are following with interest the comments of readers about CCACs. The nurses write that some are quite accurate, some lack knowledge, some are confused because they don’t understand who exactly was on strike, some are angry and some are full of praise. They write that the strike was about CCAC care coordinators and nurses employed by the CCAC; all provide hands-on care, they say, which “many do not seem to understand.” They explain that direct care is “more than changing a bandage or giving a needle or providing intravenous therapy – it is taking time to know the patient and their needs and hopes and helping them to achieve their physical and emotional goals.” The letter says the strike was about achieving fairness and respect for the Ontario Nurses’ Association members at the CCAC. They urge the public to “not be hard on us for working as hard as we can to ensure that health care money is being managed fairly and responsibly, but at the same time trying to keep our community safe, healthy and at home.”
March 24: Brockville General Hospital RNs say they are increasingly concerned about the fate of patient care and services as possible RN cuts loom (Nurses Newsline, March 24, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that short staffing is already an ongoing problem and the hospital may join the “dubious list” of Ontario hospitals that are putting patient care at risk by cutting RN positions. She also cites scientific studies showing that patients suffer more complications and even greater mortality when more patients are added to an average RN workload.
March 24: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that nursing cuts at Health Sciences North will take 85,000 hours of nursing care out of the hospital over the next year (Sudbury Northern Life, March 24, 2015). At a public forum about the hospital cuts held in Sudbury last night, Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra said the hospital is seriously downplaying the impact of the cuts to front-line staff. “The camel’s back has been broken,” Mehra told the crowd. “At this point we need to work to restore beds and services.” She says that funding has not kept up with inflation for eight years now, and that has resulted in hospitals “trying to figure out how to get you out” of hospital from the minute you walk in. NDP Health Critic France Gelinas says that she draws the line “when you cut programs and services to the people who need them.” She added that Ontario’s home care system is not equipped to handle the patient load.
March 25: Nurses are warning that two of Southwestern Ontario’s largest hospitals have “scrapped most surgeries” in a move they say is a prelude to more cuts (London Free Press, March 25, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 100 Bargaining Unit President James Murray says that both Victoria and University hospitals have slashed OR hours, reducing the normal pace of elective surgery by two-thirds. He says that this “has a horrendous effect on patients” and while the hospital says the move is routine “around vacation periods,” it does admit the reduced elective surgeries save money. Hospital officials say they plan more cost reduction moves but won’t disclose what they are until March 31, the day before the new fiscal year begins. While hospital officials say they can make cuts without harming patients, the nurses say that’s not true. Murray wrote in a nurses’ newsletter this month that “there isn’t any fat left to trim on the front lines. We’re now cutting into the meat and it’s going to seriously impact our ability to provide safe, quality patient care.” Murray believes the hospital will cut the positions of nine nurses who care for critically ill children and infants by merging two ICUs, one for newborns, the other for children. Last year, London Health Sciences Centre cut 52,000 hours of nursing from 4.8 million hours; they also reduced cleaning hours by 80,000 hours.
March 24: The St. Catharines Standards (March 24, 2015) says that “most union bosses don’t mince words, and Linda Haslam-Stroud is as straight a shooter as they come.” The ONA President says that the lower the nurse-to-patient ratio, the more patients will die or become seriously ill. The opinion editorial says that nursing positions are being cut in Ontario hospitals as administrators scramble to balance their books. The “spin” is the same from all hospital officials: they say nurses aren’t being handed pink slips, but nursing positions are being cut by not filling vacancies or attrition. Ontario has the second-worst nurse-to-patient ratio in Canada, says Haslam-Stroud, and layoffs aren’t going to improve that. At the same time, more hospital administrators are being hired at high salaries. Both ONA and the Ontario Health Coalition say that more than 85,000 nursing hours will be cut in Sudbury. ONA and the OHC can’t be making these numbers up, and Ontarians are finding it difficult to believe management when they say that cutting thousands of hours of nursing won’t affect patient care. ONA is urging Ontarians to speak out against the loss of nursing care. Research backs up Haslam-Stroud’s claim that lower nurse-to-patient ratios result in increased medication errors, hospital infections, shock, cardiac arrest, gastritis, ulcers, blood clots and bedsores. Hospitals only admit the sickest of the sick, and the patients’ needs cannot be met by PSWs, no matter how vital these workers are to the health-care system. The piece says that hospital administrators should be supporting ONA’s fight.
March 19: ONA is warning that patient care will suffer from the loss of 72 nursing jobs at hospitals in Cambridge and Ottawa (Queen’s Park Briefing, March 19, 2015). The union said that Cambridge Memorial Hospital is cutting 38,000 hours of RN care yearly from medical, surgical and rehab units; the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario is cutting 50 RN positions, or a total of more than 90,000 hours of RN care. The union is trying to turn public opinion against further nursing cuts and intensify political pressure on MPPs and government ministers about underfunded health care. The union has fought health-care cuts long and hard, the piece says, saying that Ontario has the second-lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country.
March 20: Sudbury’s hospital says that it is considering hiring PSWs to replace the nursing positions it is cutting, but that’s raising concerns about a growing reliance on less-skilled medical workers (CBC News, March 20, 2015). Miranda Ferrier, President of a PSW association, says she is worried that more Ontario hospitals are replacing RNs with PSWs. “PSWs are cheaper,” she says. “They do provide that personal bedside care.” However, she is concerned that hospitals will want PSWs to step into nurses’ shoes. Health policy analyst Dr. Michael Rachlis agrees. “You don’t want a PSW dealing with mostly acutely ill hospital patients,” he said. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that Health Sciences North is cutting 85,000 hours of nursing care.
March 19: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the level of RN cuts is “really catastrophic” to a large hospital like Health Sciences North (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, March 19, 2015). The hospital will cut a total of 39 full-time and five part-time RNs in the next five months. “Our patients’ death and disease rates are going to increase as a result of these cuts,” she says. Haslam-Stroud says the cuts equal 85,000 hours of care being eliminated.
March 19: Ontario nurses say that care for injured and sick children is going to be affected by staff cuts at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CFRA AM Ottawa, March 19, 2015). The hospital announced that it would cut up to three percent of staff to eliminate a budget shortfall. ONA says about 50 front-line nursing staff will be cut. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says “there is not an opportunity for us to continue to provide the same level of care for our children at CHEO. That is a given.”
March 19: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling on Ottawa residents to protest staffing cuts at CHEO (CFRA AM Ottawa, March 19, 2015). The hospital is cutting 50 RN positions as part of a staff reduction to eliminate a $6.7-million budget shortfall. ONA says the cuts will be devastating, affecting all areas of patient care.
March 18: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is urging residents to protest the elimination of 50 RN positions at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CFRA AM, March 18, 2015). CHEO announced it would cut jobs to balance its books.
March 18: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that Health Sciences North and other hospitals are “basically balancing their budgets on the backs of the RNs” (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, March 18, 2015). ONA says that 39.4 full-time RN positions and five part-time RN positions are being cut, in multiple departments over the next five months. Oncology will be the site of the worst cuts, and the hospital’s palliative care unit will be eliminated.
March 18: ONA says all of the positions being cut at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario will be nursing jobs (CBOT TV, March 18, 2015). CHEO announced last week that it plans to cut as many as 50 positions by the summer.
March 19: ONA says that Health Sciences North will lose a total of 39 full-time and five part-time RN positions (CBC News, March 19, 2015). President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the cuts will be from multiple departments, including oncology, critical care, surgery and mental health. She calls the cuts “catastrophic” to the hospital, and notes that “our patients’ death and disease rates are going to increase as a result of these cuts.” She says patients from “surgery, to the operating room to diabetes care to mental health to critical care” will be impacted.
March 18: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that RN cuts at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario means there will “more death and disease” (Metro News Ottawa, March 18, 2015). She says that research suggests that fewer nurses translates into more illness. “If you reduce the number of RNs, there is more death and disease,” she says, adding that the 50-plus cuts will directly result in a loss of 90,000 hours of RN care a year. “You increase the number of patients that go into shock, that go into cardiac arrest, that get blood clots, that get pneumonia. When you start looking at the real evidence, these are the things that are going to start to happen.” Haslam-Stroud says that since January, more than 300 Ontario RNs have lost their jobs. Ontario has the second-worst RN-to-resident ratio in Canada.
March 20: ONA says that Health Sciences North may be cutting more than 85,000 hours a year of RN care to balance its books (Sudbury Star, March 20, 2015). The hospital’s official position is that not one nurse who wants to remain there will lose his or her job. ONA Local 13 Bargaining Unit President Kelly Latimer says her union has been told that the equivalent of 42 full-time RN positions will be cut. Just seven staff nurses received lay-off notices. Latimer says the lost nursing care will hurt patient care. Health Sciences North patients are “the sickest of the sickest,” she says, “and we’re pushing them out quicker to get more in.” ONA Provincial President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the days when hospital patients were stable and predictable – and easier to treat – are gone. “They are complex, they are unpredictable and they are unstable,” she said, “and they require the skilled care of registered nurses.” Meanwhile, Latimer says her Local will have to decide whether to proceed with a censure against Health Sciences North. Until recently, the hospital was slow to hear grievances filed by ONA, though there are now some dates for them to be heard. Haslam-Stroud says the RN cuts in Sudbury are “shocking to me…the hospitals are not advocating on behalf of the patients.” She adds that nurses will continue to advocate for patients, and if “it means having to say things to you like there’s going to be increased death and disease rates, I’m going to say it.”
March 19: ONA members gave their support to RPNs facing job cuts at Almonte General Hospital on Monday (Almonte/Carleton Place EMC, March 19, 2015). The RPNs -who are represented by CUPE- held a demonstration to protest the hospital’s cost-cutting decision to slash 10 RPN positions over the next few months. The hospital’s new model would add 11 new personal support worker positions.
March 18: The loss of 42 nursing positions at Health Science North will result in 85,000 fewer hours of patient care next year (Sudbury Northern Life, March 18, 2015). ONA is speaking out against the hospital’s choice to cut front-line workers in an effort to balance its budget. “Generally across the province, the administrative cutbacks don’t happen,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “In fact, what we see is layer upon layer of additional monies being invested in non-front-line services.” While the hospital claims the lost positions won’t necessarily mean layoffs, the union warns that the loss of nursing hours will hurt patient care and could even cost more in the long run as patients experience more complications leading to longer hospital stays.
March 18: ONA is speaking out against CHEO’s decision to cut 50 nursing positions, a move which the union warns would result in the loss of 90,000 nursing hours per year (CTV Ottawa, March 18, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the community should be “outraged” by the cuts which will have a negative impact on patient care. The Union encourages concerned residents to speak out.
March 19: Unions warn that the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario’s (CHEO) decision to cut 40 to 50 jobs to balance its budget will hurt patient care (Orleans EMC, March 19, 2015). Faced with a $6.7-million budget shortfall, the hospital announced that it plans to cut jobs across all departments. While hospital officials claim the cuts will not result in service or bed reductions, unions are skeptical. "Any time you're eliminating positions, whether there's people filling those positions currently or not, those positions weren't created simply on a whim," says David Lundy, the regional vice-president of OPSEU, the union representing 861 CHEO employees. “When you cut services, you can't help but impact a patient, in this case the sick children that need treatment at CHEO."
March 16: An opinion editorial in the Windsor Star (March 16, 2015) says that many governments and individuals prefer to focus on short-term goals and limited objectives. Our provincial government has a “well-established track record” of flying “tiny trial balloons on sidebar issues and not focusing on major critical issues,” and we are still a “nanny-care state.” The piece uses the example of the recent 16-day strike by ONA members working in CCACs, who “had to resort to a strike over a 1.4-per-cent wage increase.” The piece says that the fact that the “Ontario government could stand by for so long while so many seniors endured is an argument for a much more deliberate granny-state approach to health care for seniors. Assuming that caregivers for seniors apparently were not worth a 1.4 per-cent wage increase after two years of a wage freeze is simply unconscionable.” The editorial says that the government cannot continue to “spew forth tiny and perhaps needless” policies; instead, we need mega-public policy thinking.
March 12: After a full day of bargaining the Peterborough County-City Health Unit and the Ontario Nurses’ Association reached a new collective agreement which will keep 32 ONA members on the job (Peterborough This Week, March 12, 2015).
March 13: A potential labour disruption was averted when the Peterborough County-City Health Unit reached a deal with CUPE and ONA just days before employees represented by both unions would have been in a legal strike position (The Peterborough Examiner, March 13, 2015). ONA represents 32 public health nurses at the health unit while CUPE’s 53 members include health inspectors and secretaries. The nurses’ new three-year contract includes wage increases of 0.5 per cent in each of the first two years and 3 per cent in the final year. ONA local bargaining unit president Diane Lockman says she is grateful for the support the nurses received from the community throughout negotiations. "Whether they signed our post card, watched our videos or just gave us support, we're very thankful to them."
March 13: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is filing a grievance against Quinte Health Care (QHC) in response to a proposed new care model which aims to cut costs by slashing 86 registered nurse positions across the organization while boosting the numbers of registered practical nurses (RPN) and personal support workers (PSW) (The Belleville Intelligencer, March 13, 2015). ONA local bargaining unit president Angie Stott says that the plan breaches ONA’s collective agreement with QHC and would see RPNs doing the work of registered nurses. She adds that this is just the latest in a series of unresolved grievances filed against QHC. While the union will have the opportunity to present QHC with counterproposals to the plan in April, Stott believes the employer’s decision is “already made.”
March 12: After meeting with union leaders from ONA, OPSEU, SEIU and Unifor, officials from Quinte Health Care have released the numbers on total job cuts planned for all QHC hospitals (Belleville EMC, March 12, 2015). The loss of RN positions includes: Belleville General Hospital (31), Trenton Memorial Hospital (20), Picton (1) and Bancroft (2). The cuts will make way for various increases in RPN and PSW positions at the facilities. QHC’s Director of Communications Susan Rowe says that union leaders received “detailed information on the proposed changes and how they impact staff at the four hospitals.” She adds that they then have “a few weeks to provide suggestions on how the plans could be altered to help minimize the impact to individuals."
March 12: A “good crowd” of local health advocates, health-care workers, and concerned residents rallied to save services at Trenton Memorial Hospital (Belleville EMC, March 12, 2015). The hospital recently announced cuts to 20 registered nurse positions; the RNs will be replaced by 25 registered practical nurses and personal support workers. Hospital officials claim that “vacant” positions will be cut, but ONA local rep Angie Stott says that those positions are currently being filled with part-time workers. “They have been filled by what we call the transitional pool, from our last round of layoffs.”
March 12: Charges tied to the 2014 stabbing of a nurse by a patient at the Brockville Mental Health Centre (BMHC) were adjourned in provincial court this week, and will resume in criminal court on April 17(Brockville Recorder and Times, March 12, 2015). The health-care centre was hit with five civil charges by the Ministry of Labour late last year. A ministry spokesperson says that the move to higher court does not increase the “seriousness or possible punishment” for BMHC.
March 11: Cambridge Memorial Hospital will lose 33 nurses as officials “switch up” the model of care for patients (Cambridge Times, March 11, 2015). Teams which will include a registered nurse, a registered practical nurse and a personal support worker will take on “many duties currently performed by nurses.” "It makes good, judicial use of people's skills," says Heather Quesnelle, the hospital’s vice-president of clinical programs and chief nursing executive. She says that the new plan will free up time nurses previously spent on activities not exclusive to their scope of practice. "This doesn't mean a nurse will never bathe another patient, but they will have more time to perform comprehensive assessments, do discharge planning, patient education and other activities to enhance our patients' experience," she said.
March 12: ONA bargaining unit president Brenda Pugh says that nurses at Cambridge Memorial Hospital are very concerned about the impact on patient care after officials issued layoff notices to 19 nurses and 14 registered practical nurses (RPNs) on Tuesday (Waterloo Region Record, March 12, 2015). The cuts are part of a new “model of care” at the hospital which will see a team including a nurse, an RPN, and a personal support worker (PSW) responsible for 10 patients. Currently one nurse cares for five patients. "Why are we diluting the skill set at the bedside?" asked Pugh. She says that while the hospital claims the move isn’t tied to money, the decision to replace nurses with lower paid PSWs says otherwise. The hospital plans to hire 33 PSWs as part of the new care model to offer “basic care” to patients. Pugh says that most of the nurses who have received layoff notices have worked up to five years, but at least two have 30 years of experience.
March 9: A letter to the editor of the Peterborough Examiner (March 9, 2015) says that public health nurses are the community’s safety net. While many may not be aware of the work public health nurses do, writes Diane Lockman, they are responsible for ensuring communities are healthy and well, and are committed to preventing outbreaks of disease. “We respond with commitment, care and sensitivity” to each of you, she writes, and as advocates for the community, she is asking for the community’s support as a new contract is sought.
March 7: Unionized public health workers rallied outside the constituency office of Jeff Leal on Friday, urging greater provincial funding for the area’s public health services (Peterborough Examiner, March 7, 2015). Members of ONA and CUPE have been without a contract since October 1. If a new agreement isn’t reached by this Friday, the ONA and CUPE members could be on strike.
March 9: An RN from Trenton Memorial Hospital is predicting a “dire outcome” if nursing positions are not saved (Belleville Intelligencer, March 9, 2015). ONA Bargaining Unit President Angie Stott told a packed auditorium on Saturday that Quinte Health Care is not being transparent when it comes to the RN layoffs. She explained that “vacant” positions at the hospital have been filled with part-time staff. She also expressed serious concern for the inpatient floor of Trenton hospital, with not enough RNs to provide the care. Many of the RNs at the rally were afraid to speak out, fearing that they would get calls from management. One nurse did explain that, “every study has shown that when RN hours are cut there’s an increase in length of hospital stays and increase in morbidity and mortality rates.”
March 8: Emotions ran high yesterday at a rally in response to Quinte Health Care’s announcement of job cuts (CJBQ Belleville, March 8, 2015). The hospital is cutting the equivalent of 20 RNs and the layoffs come as senior management look for $6 million in savings. About 400 local residents attended the rally to protest the cuts, with one resident challenging the hospital’s statements that it can cut RNs and retain a high quality of service. Evelyn Wilson said that “nurses are…needed. No offence to PSWs, they are needed…but they are not nurses and cannot do the job that nurses do.” ONA Local President Angie Stott says that Quinte is trying to implement a model of care it has tried before and discarded.
March 5: Fewer nurses means unsafe and dangerous care for patients, says ONA Local President Angie Stott (CJBQ News, March 5, 2015). Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi says he has spoken with Quinte Health Care officials following their announcement of job cuts. Quinte Health Care has announced RN cuts to help balance its budget.
March 5: An opinion editorial in the Belleville Intelligencer (March 5, 2015) says that if the hospital board approves proposed budget cuts for Quinte Health Care, 39 people will lose their jobs and a total of 86 jobs will disappear from Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. That is a disaster for those families, and the Ontario Nurses’ Association also says it’s a disaster for care. The piece says that health care “simply cannot continue in its current form: there is too little money and too many demands.” However, “we all still have a right to speak our minds about our care.” The editorial also says that the province won’t drop its new funding formula, but it must “tread more carefully in implementing it, since there are many signs community care groups aren’t ready to absorb patients redirected from hospitals.”
March 6: Chris Malette’s Belleville Intelligencer column (March 6, 2015) says that the “scalpel is cutting deep” at Quinte Health Care. Changes are happening to handle shortfalls in funding from the health ministry, with 86 positions being cut – most of them registered nurses. The piece says that “of course, the nurses’ union is rightly outraged that further cuts to the nursing ranks mean members are out of work – RNs who have for years been the backbone of the hospital community and healthcare network at our hospitals.” Malette writes that “someone, somewhere is going to have to address the simple fact that, with each successive round of funding cuts, nurses seem to bear the brunt of the cost-cutting.” While the hospital says that inter-disciplinary care will allow the surviving RNs to “focus more on tasks specific to their skill set,” local ONA representative Angie Stott says the strain placed on remaining RNs could prove critical for patients. “The members are concerned for patient safety and equality of care,” she said. “Stats show the fewer RNs you have, the higher potential for poor outcome for patients.”
March 4: ONA Local Bargaining Unit President Angie Stott says that 58 RN positions have been cut from Quinte Health Care, the equivalent of 88,000 hours of RN care per year (CJBQ AM, March 4, 2015). Stott says she and other RNs were not prepared for the impact the cuts would have, and while the hospital says some of the RN jobs are vacant, that is “misleading.” She explains that while they may not have been permanent positions, RNs were filling the positions and that care is now gone as well. Stott says that cutting RN care increases the risk of patient suffering adverse health outcomes. Meanwhile, QHC’s chief nursing officer says the hospital is focused on introducing more of an “inter-professional practice environment to QHC.”
March 4: ONA is warning that cuts to dozens of RN positions at Quinte Health Care could jeopardize the safety of patient care (Queen’s Park Briefing, March 4, 2015). The union says RNs will be cut from the Trenton, Belleville, Bancroft and Picton sites of QHC, impacting ICU, ER, rehab, diagnostic imaging, medical day care and post-anesthesia same-day surgery patients. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the hospital is “taking 88,000 hours of RN care per year out of the hospital system, and patients are the ones who will be falling through the cracks.”
March 4: The Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) had a banner year and generated “fat returns from stock and bond investments” (Queen’s Park Briefing, March 4, 2015). The plan is governed by a board of trustees with representatives from the Ontario Nurses’ Association, CUPE, OPSEU and SEIU as well as the Ontario Hospital Association. In 2014, the fund earned a rate of return of 17.7 per cent, driving net assets to a record $60.8 billion.
March 4: The “layoff axe” is falling again at Quinte Health Care (CKWS TV, March 4, 2015). The hospital corporation announced deep job cuts to RNs; the hospital says budget cuts left them with no choice. A total of 58 nursing positions will be cut from QHC hospitals in Trenton, Belleville, Picton and Bancroft. ONA Local Bargaining Unit President Angie Stott says the cuts total about 10 per cent of all RNs. “It’s the equivalent to about 88,000 RN hours per year. Not at the bedside, doing patient care.” The local MPP says the Liberals are to blame, and adds that the government’s funding formula “doesn’t work for Quinte Health Care and its four sites.
March 4: Prince Edward County’s hospital is “expected to be spared” in staff cuts at Quinte Health Care (CountryLive.ca, March 4, 2015). The mayor was told that there are no immediate plans to eliminate beds or services at the hospital. However, at other sites, the Ontario Nurses’ Association is warning that cuts to dozens of RNs will result in patients falling through the cracks. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that, “You will hear that services will not be affected, but you cannot cut the 88,000 hours of RN care from the community and expect that patients won’t be affected, no matter the platitudes that emerge from hospital leaders.” She notes that cuts to the ICU, OR, ER, medical day care, diagnostic imaging, post-anesthesia and same-day surgery units will impact patient care.
March 5: In the latest round of cuts at Quinte Health Care, 39 more people have lost their jobs (Belleville Intelligencer, March 5, 2015). In order to balance its 2015-16 budget, administrators have proposed cutting 86 positions – mostly RNs – across the corporation in Belleville, Trenton, Picton and Bancroft. Belleville General is the hardest hit, with staff cuts and bed closures. The hospital is hiring others, including lower-paid RPNs and PSWs, as it cuts RNs. ONA Local Bargaining Unit President Angie Stott says the RN cuts reduce the quantity and safety of patient care. The new model of care will see RNs focus more on tasks specific to their skills set, says CEO Mary Clare Egberts. RPNs will care “for patients with more complex needs while still working within their own expertise.” The addition of 44 PSWs will allow patients with “daily activities.” Stott argues that in fact, statistics show that the fewer RNs you have, the higher potential for poor patient outcomes. She says that the cuts mean 88,000 fewer hours per year of RN care. Stott is calling upon both the province and Quinte Health Care to revisit their respective funding issues.
March 4: QuinteNews.com (March 4, 2015) reports that some 88,000 hours of nursing care could be lost as staff cutbacks are rolled out at local hospitals. Quinte Healthcare Corporation will cut 30 full-time and 28 part-time RNs – all members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. QHC has three other unions that will see an impact; other cutbacks are expected to be announced early this afternoon. Local ONA President, Angie Stott, says the cuts mean less quality patient care.
March 2: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (March 2, 2015) from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud thanks the community and the media for their overwhelming support during the recent CCAC strike. The letter notes that care coordinators are under “constant scrutiny with respect to the implementation of home care services” and were heartened by their patients and communities. ONA members are handling about 30 to 50 per cent more cases than they should be now, and most are working many hours of unpaid overtime almost every day. While as health professionals, “we all care deeply about our patients,” Haslam-Stroud believes that it’s time for the CCACs and government to “step up to the plate for fairness for all.”
Do you think there are enough registered nurses working to care for patients in Ontario?
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