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:
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.”
February 28: ONA Bargaining Unit President Mary Jane Froats says that Brockville General Hospital’s presentations that are allegedly to find solutions in conjunction with staff are simply presentation of data and “nothing drastic” (Brockville Recorder & Times, February 28, 2015). Froats says the hospital tells her it is not their intention to close the maternity unit in the face of budget issues, “and I guess we’ll have to wait and see.” Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark is concerned that the need to find $600,000 in savings means the hospital will lose the maternity unit. South East LHIN CEO Paul Hurras says closing the unit is one option that the hospital has been considering.
February 26: ONA Local 46 bargaining unit president Glenda Hubley “talked passionately” about the negative impact that losing registered nursing positions would have on patients at Sault Area Hospital (CHAS FM, February 26, 2015). Hubley was one of several local health advocates who spoke at a town hall meeting to save local health services in Sault Ste. Marie.
February 26: In a letter to the editor in the Barrie Examiner, ONA regional vice-president Dianne Leclair described the realities of working as a registered nurse and CCAC care coordinator, responding to a “cynical and dismissive” letter which previously appeared in the paper (February 26, 2015). “The work that I and thousands of other care coordinators do is not in any way ‘stress free.’ As a health-care professional, I deeply care about my patients and their ability to recover as well as they possibly can. I work with many regulated health-care professionals who use their extensive education and experience to do the absolute best they can for their patients. … We are all working very hard within a system that is being increasingly relied upon as the province cuts hospital services and budgets. Every care coordinator is providing direct care -whether through our triaging of patients, our care plans that we develop for each patient, or our onsite assessments and care.”
February 26: Local health-care workers, concerned citizens and community groups participated in a rally held by the Ontario Health Coalition and the Sault Ste. Marie Health Coalition in a bid to “save hospital services” in Sault Ste. Marie (The Sault Star, February 26, 2015). ONA Local 46 bargaining unit president Glenda Hubley warned of the consequences of a three-year freeze on hospital-operating funds. “We've raised those alarms for the past five years. We knew that this is going to happen. This means that hospitals have been struggling for the past three to balance their budgets with their overcosts that they're not being funded for by this government, the cost of inflation and just by growth of population. While the government's intention may be to send more care into the community, depriving our hospitals of much-needed funding to provide services to you, the patients and our community and our families, the outcomes can be devastating.”
February 25: Nearly 2,700 CCAC workers around the province have returned to work after a 16-day strike (The Oshawa Express, February 25, 2015). The medical professionals, including 170 out of Whitby, are represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association and have been without a contract since March 2014. The strike ended after both the union and employer agreed to arbitration, something union officials say they have been suggesting for months. “We always believed our offer of several months ago to go to interest arbitration was fair and reasonable and best for our patients that we serve,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “Unfortunately, it took our member’s resolve when forced out on the picket lines to bring the government and employers to their senses.”
February 24: Public sector workers including nurses, doctors and civil servants are “chafing at wage austerity” leading to impasses in contract negotiations with the province, less than a year after many helped keep the Liberals in power (The Sarnia Observer, February 24, 2015). ONA members at several CCACs went on strike earlier this month after negotiations failed before “turning with the province to an arbitrator.” There is a “big, and growing, gap” between unions like ONA and OPSEU that are pushing for wage increases and the province which is trying to cut its deficit.
February 20: ONA representatives at Trenton Memorial Hospital report that employee morale is low as rumours circulate that a staff planning meeting on March 3 could mean “lots of layoffs” (CJBQ News, February 20, 2015).
February 20: ONA Bargaining Unit President Angie Stott says that employees at Trenton Memorial Hospital are worried about the future of their jobs as rumours fly about an upcoming staff planning meeting with Quinte Health Care (CJTN FM, February 20, 2015). Stott says she is expecting lots of layoffs, as the emergency room at Trenton may be changing to an urgent care clinic. “We have an inkling with the new locks on the main emerge door that there is going to be changes at the Trenton site” she explains, adding that an urgent care clinic means that “no ambulances will go there, and it’s not open 24/7.”
February 18: The Peterborough County-City Health Unit is “anxious to get back to the bargaining table” despite criticism from both ONA and CUPE over its current offer which includes a 0.5 per cent wage increase (CHEX TV, February 18, 2015). ONA has asked for a 2 per cent increase while CUPE is pushing for 3.
February 20: The board of directors of the North East CCAC has defended pay increases for CEO Richard Joly; Joly’s salary came under fire during a recent labour dispute with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (Sudbury Northern Life, February 20, 2015). The union singled out Joly whose salary jumped 64 per cent between 2008 and 2013. The CCAC board maintains that Joly’s salary increases reflect “new responsibilities” undertaken in that time. Osmo Ramakko, vice-chair of the board, adds that Joly’s current salary is in line with what other CCAC CEOs and high-level health-care executives are paid. If Joly meets his expected performance targets he will make a total of $292,656 in 2014-15.
February 20: A letter to the editor of the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin (February 20, 2015) expresses support for the CCAC workers. Chris Kowalski writes that it is “a joke” that the CCAC can freeze the wages of these workers, who have been without a contract or a raise, while managers and CEOs have had significant raises over that same period of time. Kowalski writes that it’s time the government “woke up and stepped in to get a deal done.”
February 20: A Mental Health and Addictions Nurse from the Erie St. Clair CCAC has written a letter to the editor of the LaSalle Post (February 20, 2015). Natalie Westfall writes that she knows her students didn’t receive care while she and her ONA colleagues were on strike. She says that she is passionate about what she does, and there is no one between her and her patients. “I am their care coordinator, their supporter, their cheerleader and their friend,” she writes. It’s been disheartening that her employer does not feel that she is “worth” the same as a hospital nurse.
February 19: An opinion column in Sarnia This Week (February 19, 2015) says that MPPs returned to Queen’s Park this week with the issues of the spring budget and labour unrest top of mind. Bob Bailey, a local MPP, writes that the Liberals have added another $117 billion to the provincial debt since the recession hit in 2008-09. The government has wasted billions on an endless list of failures like ORNGE, e-Health, MaRS and the gas plant scandal. That’s why failed contract negotiations with the OMA and ONA are “so troubling.” The Liberals have put themselves in a position where they have to save money in the budget by squeezing important services such as care coordinators in the health care community. Care coordinators are asking for a wage increase like that of their colleagues in the hospital sector.
February 20: A nurse from Trenton Memorial Hospital says that the ER could soon be reduced to become an urgent care centre (Belleville Intelligencer, February 20, 2015). Angie Stott, RN, says that Quinte Health Care has installed a coded lock box with an intercom at the main entrance of the hospital’s ER on Catherine Street, and angry residents vented their frustrations at a public meeting this week. Stott, the Bargaining Unit President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association Local, says her membership will be told on March 3 what the impacts of cost-cutting measures will be at a staff planning meeting. “It usually means the deletion of positions, layoffs, presentation of packages, but we have an inkling that with the locks on the main ER door there will be changes to the Trenton ER,” she said. Stott is not optimistic about the future of the hospital; she says that “people are really fearful – not so much for their jobs, but for their families. Staff at TMH are scared.”
February 19: Peterborough’s health unit says it is anxious to resume negotiations and “save local jobs” (Magic 96.7 Peterborough, February 19, 2015). Officials say they want to hammer out a deal with the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CUPE that will preserve public health jobs and services while offering a modest increase. Dr. Rosana Pellizzari says the offer of .5 per cent preserves public health jobs.
February 19: Professional health care workers with the CCACs returned to work Tuesday (Espanola Mid-North Monitor, February 19, 2015). The 16-day strike by ONA members ended when the two parties agreed to send the dispute to arbitration. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said the strike was an unnecessary and ended up being a “colossal waste of health care dollars” on the part of the employers. She said the union always believed “that our offer of several months ago to go to interest arbitration was fair and reasonable, and best for our patients that we serve.” The unity of ONA members brought a voice which the government could no longer ignore.
February 19: The strike by CCAC care coordinators ended as the dispute was sent to arbitration (Guelph Tribune, February 19, 2015). The care coordinators have agreed to go back to work while the arbitration takes place.
February 20: A letter to the editor of the Barrie Examiner and Guelph Mercury (February 20, 2015) from an occupational therapist argues that in her opinion, Miae Kim’s portrayal of care coordinators “is misleading and self-serving.” Sue Williams writes that the “truth is, many people receiving home care services don’t even know who their care coordinator is.” She writes that they do assessments for urgent placements, but “they also often needlessly do that same grueling assessment if someone simply wants a weekly bath.” Williams writes that the RNAO says the current system is riddled with inefficiencies, and recommends phasing out CCACs altogether.
February 16: Ontario’s Health Minister says that 3,000 striking health-care workers will return to work tomorrow (CKGL AM Kitchener-Waterloo, February 16, 2015). The ONA members and CCACs have agreed to arbitration.
February 19: The strike by 3,000 ONA members working for Community Care Access Centres is over (Toronto Labour Council Newsletter, February 19, 2015). The strike ended when the employers agreed to go to arbitration – something ONA had proposed from the start. The Labour Council article says “hats off” to ONA members who marched every day in freezing weather. It also says the strikers did “a fine job” of taking the issues to the streets.
February 20: CCAC workers will be back on the job this week (Wellington Advertiser, February 20, 2015). Talks resumed on February 14 between ONA and the OACCAC with a mediator from the Ministry of Labour. The sides agreed to send the dispute to arbitration. Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that “a strong system depends on these dedicated professionals and the valuable contribution they make to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable people in the province. They are essential to continuing the transformation of home and community care in Ontario. We cannot do this without them.”
February 19: CCAC health care providers are back on the job as of Tuesday, providing full care to York Region patients (Newmarket Era, February 19, 2015). The labour dispute has been referred to arbitration. Dawn Trott, vice-president of ONA’s local bargaining committee, says “We’re happy to be back where we can provide the quality care to clients in the region.” Jo-anne Marr, CEO of the Central CCAC, echoed those sentiments. “We’re delighted they’re back,” she said. “We’re providing the full range of care and services.” Trott believes the strike could have been averted. She notes that ONA “was asking for arbitration for a long time. The employer was refusing.”
February 19: The local medical officer of health hopes that a final conciliation date in early March will prevent 85 employees from walking off the job (Peterborough Examiner, February 19, 2015). Rosana Pellizzari says “We’re hoping that at that meeting, we will be able to come up with a settlement for all parties.” The employees represented by both CUPE and ONA, have been without a contract since October 1. ONA represents 32 nurses working for the health unit. Pellizzari says the increases the health unit is offering are “not what they want. It’s not as much as they deserve.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the wage disparity between Peterborough members and public health nurses in the area is as much as 23 per cent.
February 19: CCAC workers are back on the job after a two-week strike (Quinte EMC, Almonte/Carleton Place EMC, February 19, 2015). The CCAC says it is “very pleased that we will be able to resume our full range of care to patients.” ONA says that the labour dispute could have gone to arbitration months ago, at its suggestion, and prevented the strike.
February 19: Local care coordinators are off the picket lines and back into their roles after the decision to send their labour dispute to arbitration (Smiths Falls EMC, February 19, 2015). The union is asking for a 1.4 per cent wage increase. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said, “We always believed that our offer of several months ago to go to interest arbitration was fair and reasonable and best for our patients that we serve. Unfortunately, it took our members’ resolve when forced out onto the picket lines to bring the government and employers to their senses.”
February 18: The labour dispute between ONA members working in nine provincial CCACs and their employers has ended (Tillsonburg News, February 18, 2015). The ONA members are back on the job and their issues will head to arbitration. Nurses had been asking for a 1.4 per cent wage increase. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud slammed the “colossal waste of health care dollars” and noted that ONA had offered to go to arbitration months ago. She said CCAC executives have been bargaining in bad faith and forced the labour disruption.
February 19: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says it’s “unfortunate” that the dispute between nine CCACs and ONA members had to come to a strike (Sault Star, February 19, 2015). She said that the issues will go to arbitrator William Kaplan and ONA members are back at work. “It’s very sad that for the months and weeks of negotiations at nine different CCACs, we were unable to reach an agreement,” said McKenna. Mr. Kaplan will reach a decision by March 31.
February 17: The dispute between ONA members working for nine provincial CCACs will go to arbitration, ending the strike (CBC London, Windsor, February 17, 2015). This ends the 17-day strike.
February 17: Zoomer Radio (CFZM Toronto, February 17, 2015) reports that it’s good news that the CCAC dispute is going to arbitration. The ONA members walked off the job last month, and talks resumed this weekend.
February 17: Caroline McWhinney, President of the South West CCAC ONA bargaining unit, says that ONA had tabled the option of going to arbitration months ago (CJBK London, February 17, 2015). After a 17-day strike and with the government’s intervention, the employer has now also agreed to go to arbitration, ending the dispute.
February 16: CFRT News Toronto (February 16, 2015) reports that the Health Minister says that striking CCAC workers will return to work tomorrow morning. Eric Hoskins says the ONA members have agreed to arbitration.
February 17: The striking CCAC workers in Ontario are on the job again today (CKNX AM Wingham, CIGL FM Belleville, February 17, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members and the CCACs will send the dispute to arbitration.
February 17: CKDO Durham (February 17, 2015) reports that after agreeing to arbitration, the strike by 3,000 CCAC workers is over. The Ontario Nurses’ Association members have been on strike since last month.
February 17: More than 3,000 CCAC workers are expected to be back on the job today after their dispute was sent to arbitration (CBC Radio Sudbury, Ontario-wide, February 17, 2015).
February 17: More than 3,000 CCAC health care workers will be back on the job today (CP24, February 17, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association and CCACs agreed to arbitration yesterday.
February 14: Wingham’s CKNX and Toronto’s CFMZ (February 14, 2015) report that the NDP is calling on the Premier to get ONA and the CCACs back to the negotiating table. The NDP says hundreds of thousands of patients depend on their home care services.
February 14: The NDP is calling on the Premier to take immediate steps to get ONA and the nine CCACs back to the negotiating table (CBC Radio 1 Ottawa, February 14, 2015). The party says that patients and families depend on home care every day.
February 16: CJBK London, CKNX Wingham, CKDO Oshawa, CBC Ottawa (February 16, 2015) all report that the Health Minister has called for the CCACs and ONA to get back to the negotiating table, and has also announced that the two sides have agreed to send the dispute to arbitration.
February 16: While Hamilton was not affected, Health Minister Eric Hoskins has announced that 3,000 CCAC workers will be going to arbitration to settle a dispute with their employers (CHML Hamilton, February 16, 2015). The CCAC workers were on strike from January 30.
February 17: CCAC workers will return to work today after it was announced that the dispute is going to arbitration (CBC Radio Sudbury, February 17, 2015). The strike affected nine of the province’s 14 CCACs.
February 17: Ontario CCAC workers are back on the job after ONA and the CCACs agreed to go to arbitration (CJBK AM London, February 17, 2015). This ends the 16-day strike that saw RNs, NPs, RPNs, social workers, physiotherapists and other health professionals on the picket lines.
February 18: Before the strike by 3,000 CCAC workers ended, ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna joined the employees in Hanover “to let them know they’re not alone” (Hanover Post, February 18, 2015). The workers are now back on the job after an agreement was reached to send the issue to arbitration. McKenna stood in solidarity with the workers and said the extra support can be especially important in a small town like Hanover. “It’s one thing when you’re part of a big group,” she said, “but when you’re small, that’s hard.” McKenna said that “this employer has not only forced them, but seems to be freezing them out, and that is not okay. These are the people who keep the system working, who are there when the public needs them.”
February: UFCW Canada activists joined ONA members at a rally of unity and strength for ONA’s CCAC members (UFCW Canada Directions, February 2015). ONA members are seeking fair wages after a two-year wage freeze. The rally was preceded by a vigil outside the Ministry of Labour office. Demonstrators heard from ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, CFNU’s Linda Silas and other speakers. UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema says his union is “proud to stand in solidarity with ONA members seeking fairness in their workplaces.
February 18: A letter to the editor of the London Free Press (February 18, 2015) says that CCAC workers deserve – at the very least – a modest pay increase they are seeking. Rennie Moretti writes that his own father described these workers as his “personal trainers” and Moretti believes they are “angels on Earth.”
February 17: ONA members walked off the job because they wanted respect and a wage increase (BayToday.ca, February 17, 2015). The news that the strike is at an end is a big relief for strike Coordinator Jennifer Hunt. “We’re quite happy to be back at work,” she said. Arbitration is something the nurses had suggested all long, and “it’s a little bit frustrating. We did ask for this months ago to avoid this whole strike, but we do feel this is a victory for us.”
February 12: A strike by 300 North East CCAC nurses is carrying on (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, February 12, 2015). ONA is now warning that patients will fall through the cracks unless an agreement is reached.
February 12: ONA and representatives from the CCACs are meeting with the Ministry of Labour in hopes of ending a strike “that is starting to drag on” (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, February 12, 2015). About 3,000 ONA members have been on strike since January 30. During the strike, North Bay Hospital says that no new long-term care applications have been processed.
February 12: Striking care coordinators from the Windsor-Essex area headed to Toronto for a rally (CKLW AM Windsor, February 12, 2015). The workers are supporting ONA as the union heads to mediated talks with the CCACs.
February 13: Kathy Bourque of the Erie St. Clair CCAC says that the Minister of Health “can’t force anything” to ensure the strike by ONA members ends. A number of the CCAC workers were in Toronto at a rally today to support ONA as it meets with the CCAC employers (CKLW Windsor, February 13, 2015).
February 13: Talks have again broken off between the CCACs and ONA (CJTN Belleville, February 13, 2015). Both sides walked away when mediated talks failed.
February 15: CFPL TV London (February 15, 2015) reports that ONA members will be back on the job in nine of the province’s CCACs on Tuesday. The talks are now headed to arbitration.
February 15: Nearly 3,000 striking CCAC workers will head back to work on Tuesday, says the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (CP24, February 15, 2015). The ONA members – including RNs, NPs, RPNs and social workers – have been seeking wage increases of 1.4 per cent.
February 15: CFTR Toronto (February 15, 2015) reports that the striking CCAC workers will return to work on Tuesday. The labour dispute between ONA and the CCACs will go to arbitration, bringing to an end 16 days of labour disruption.
February 17: Striking CCAC workers returned to work on Tuesday but many say their roles remain under-appreciated and the strike should have been avoided in the first place (Sudbury Northern Life, February 17, 2015). Nurse practitioner Claire Warren of the North East CCAC said her services are essential. She and other CCAC workers, including those on Rapid Response teams, Telehealth nurses, and others who provide front-line services were on the picket lines. During the strike, Warren said she and her colleagues were worrying themselves sick over their patients. Now, an arbitrator will settle the dispute.
February 17: ONA members in nine CCACs went on strike January 30 after being without a contract since March 2014 (Manitoulin.ca, February 17, 2015). This past weekend, the two sides agreed to go to interest arbitration to settle their differences. Putting the strike behind “was becoming increasingly urgent as the labour dispute was reportedly impacting the placement of patients out of hospitals into alternate care facilities, including long-term care and nursing homes.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud points out that the CCACs have wasted health care dollars and said her union offered arbitration before the strike.
February 18: A strike is looming by ONA members at Peterborough County-City Health Unit (Peterborough Examiner, February 18, 2015). The Local 3 members – 32 public health nurses and RNs – will be in a legal strike position on March 23. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “While the vast majority of Ontario RNs have received small wage increases, ONA members with the Peterborough City-County Health Unit are the lowest-paid in the surrounding four health units.” The wage disparity for members is as much as 23 per cent.
February 18: A letter to the editor of the Barrie Examiner (February 18, 2015) says that the author fully supports the front-line CCAC workers on strike. Chris Kowalski writes that “it is a joke” that this organization wants to freeze the wages of these workers who have been without a contract. He writes that it’s time for the government to wake up and step in to get the deal done.
February 18: A letter to the editor of the Barrie Examiner (February 18, 2015) says that unless someone needs the services of the CCAC, they won’t be familiar with the role of the CCAC. CCAC Care Coordinator Leslie Pressnail writes that her caseloads have become more complex over the years because of shorter hospital stays, an aging population and limited family support. She has been witnessing the erosion of home care delivery while the number of managers and directors in her CCAC has grown, then “exploded.” In her work, she is restricted by budgetary constraints, rationing of services, senior management’s review of her assessments and yet these are managers who have never been into the home to assess someone. The Ministry of Health funds home care services; unfortunately, the money is filtered through many levels before it goes directly into the hands of client care. She hopes that the strike will make the public aware of the layers within the organization that impact on the care she and her colleagues can provide.
February 17: It was a “bittersweet Family Day for two dozen” health professionals in St. Thomas and Elgin (St. Thomas Times-Journal, February 17, 2015). The ONA members working for the South West CCAC have walked the picket line during some of the coldest weather this winter. The workers will return to work on Tuesday, and care coordinator Peggy Gillespie said that “it will be a different world” when they go back. “A lot of people are saying this centered on the money, and it really isn’t the money. We’ve lost money being on the picket line…” She says that she and her colleagues are fine with going to arbitration, but the real point of the strike was the search for fairness and respect. Gillespie adds that the care coordinators were becoming very concerned about their patients. “They were told everything was normal, but we were hearing stories to the contrary.” She also predicts a different working relationship in the future. “A lot of us had given far and above our workday hours and that’s not going to happen now,” she said. “We had a really strong strike vote and our relationship with the employer is obviously damaged because of it.”
February 18: The St. Thomas Times-Journal (February 18, 2015) says it was a smooth return to work for more than 400 South West CCAC care coordinators. CEO Sandra Coleman says she is very pleased to have the ONA members back together with the team again.
February 17: Negotiations resumed Saturday between ONA and the province’s CCACs to resolve a labour dispute that would get CCAC workers back to work (Huntsville Forester, February 17, 2015). The strike affected 25 employees in Muskoka. ONA members began returning to their workplaces on Tuesday. North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC CEO Megan Allen-Lamb said the CCACs are “very pleased that we will be able to resume our full range of care to patients.”
February 17: Local ONA members are back to work (New Hamburg Independent, February 17, 2015). Local members participated in rotating strikes during the past two weeks. Local union president Kim Carrere said that wages had been frozen for two years and the union was seeking a 1.4 per cent increase.
February 17: Thousands of striking CCAC workers returned to their jobs yesterday after opting for arbitration to settle the dispute (Midland Mirror, February 17, 2015). The news ended months of failed negotiations between the CCACs and ONA. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud called the negotiations “difficult” and said the employers have wasted taxpayer money and “they’ve prevented our patients from getting the care they desperately require.” She adds that the employers have basically “broken any kind of working relationship they had with these very educated professionals that were keeping the health-care system glued together.”
February 17: The strike by ONA members is heading to arbitration (Stratford Gazette, February 17, 2015). The strike had impacted workers at nine of 14 provincial CCACs. The South West CCAC ONA members were in Stratford on Thursday morning, marching around city hall and carrying signs that read, “I helped your dad get a bed at a nursing home.” The union says it is seeking a 1.4 per cent wage increase; CCACs had told patients that services would continue during the strike, but this did not turn out to be so.
February 18: A letter to the editor of the Guelph Mercury (February 18, 2015) says that local CCAC patients and their families should be asked why they weren’t on the picket lines with the workers who have helped their loved ones? Magee McGuire writes that it was cold, and the workers on the picket lines were cold too. The letter asks whether people ever stop to think that it is “really all for you and the care you need?” The workers don’t normally strike because they put you first; McGuire urges people to speak up if they think the issue is important. Past funding has inappropriately gone to the executive payroll.
February 18: An opinion editorial in the Waterloo Region Record (February 18, 2015) says that before agreeing to resolve their labour dispute at arbitration, ONA members working with the local CCAC “seemed to be waging battles on a few fronts.” The piece says that the ONA members were at odds with the Waterloo-Wellington CCAC over their demands for an improved wage pattern in their collective agreement. However, they also struggled to communicate what they do and who they are to a public largely ignorant of or indifferent to them. In a sector where front-line caregivers are contractually gagged from speaking about quality, standard or volume or care, it seems the health care system and Queen’s Park aren’t terribly interested in maximum transparency or accountability.
February 18: A letter to the editor of the Waterloo Region Record (February 18, 2015) says that Cambridge Liberal MPP Kathryn McGarry was being “disingenuous” when she argued that her government is not to blame for the CCAC strike. David Worsley writes that the Ministry of Health oversees spending for these employees. Given that home care is a lot less expensive than hospital care, and that the pay hike proposed by ONA is much less than other public-sector unions have been provided, “it was hard to see the logic in backing up the hospital system to save a few backs.” He writes that the government has been “penny-wise, pound foolish” in this labour dispute.
February 18: The Owen Sound Sun Times (February 18, 2015) reports that the 16-day labour dispute between ONA members and the CCACs came to an end when the two sides reached an agreement to settle outstanding issues through arbitration. South West CCAC CEO Sandra Coleman says she does not know when arbitration will take place. The 39 Owen Sound CCAC workers were among those on strike.
February 18: It was a “smooth transition” back to work on Tuesday morning for the more than 400 South West CCAC Care Coordinators who had been on strike for more than two weeks (Sarnia Observer, February 18, 2015). CEO Sandra Coleman said “we’re very pleased to have everyone from the CCAC team back together again.” She added that patients will “once again receive the full range of services offered by the CCAC” now that the strike is over.
February 18: Approximately 300 ONA members working for the North East CCAC are back on the job (Sudbury Star, February 18, 2015). ONA staff representative Diana Kutchaw says the nurses and health professionals were buoyed during the two-week strike by support from the public. ONA and the OACCAC reached an agreement over the weekend to proceed to interest arbitration to settle the two-week labour dispute. Kutchaw said about 90 members picketed in the bitter cold and are “grateful for all the support they have received and they are happy to return to work to resume providing care and co-ordinating services for the patients of the North East CCAC.”
February 15: There are two sides to every story, says the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal (February 15, 2015) and the strike by CCAC workers has two sides. While the CEO of the North West CCAC says he wants “agreements that are fair, responsible and reflect our commitment to providing high-quality service with the prudent use of public funds,” he is also on the Sunshine List showing a 2004 salary of $106,258 and a 2013 salary of $204,691.08. CEO salaries in these CCACs jumped as much as 50 per cent between 2009 and 2012, while employees were subjected to a two-year wage freeze. Richard Joly in the North East also received an additional 16-per-cent raise in 2013. Paul Micklburgh asks whose side are we all on?
February 14: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (February 14, 2015) says that community care has always had a personal and profound effect on the author’s family. CCAC and community nursing provided much care and comfort to Judi Pace’s parents when they were ill. She notes that community health care is only as good as the people who work within it, and having comparable wages to nurses and those in other health care facilities will ensure that “talented and skilled” people will be attracted to work in the sector.
February 15: The strike affecting nine CCACs in the province is over (Orangeville Banner, February 15, 2015). The ONA members walked off the job last month, mainly over wages. The two sides agreed to go to arbitration, with workers returning to work Tuesday.
February 16: Canadian Press (February 16, 2015) reports that the CCAC strike is over, after the two sides agreed to arbitration. Nine of the province’s CCACs were impacted. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that there has been a “colossal” waste of taxpayers’ money during the strike, as the employer spent health care dollars on “catered meals for management, overtime, strike-breaking security firms and high-priced lawyers…”
February 15: ONA members will head back to work after the two sides in the ongoing CCAC dispute agreed to go to arbitration (CTV News, February 15, 2015). The ONA members went on strike last month with wages the main issue. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud “blasted” management for taking so long to agree to arbitration.
February 16: ONA and the CCACs have agreed to send their dispute to arbitration, ending a 16-day strike by the CCAC health care workers (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, February 16, 2015).
February 17: After agreeing to arbitration, the 3,000 striking CCAC workers will return to work today (Broadcast News, February 17, 2015). The members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association walked off the job last month with wages the main issue.
February 17: Local ONA members are back at work at the area’s CCAC (Brockville Recorder & Times, February 17, 2015). The two sides agreed to arbitration. ONA members were on strike for 16 days.
February 17: Care coordinators for the CCACs will head back to work after a 16-day strike (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, February 17, 2015). ONA and the CCACs agreed to send the dispute to arbitration after Health Minister Eric Hoskins urged both sides to do so. Local workers will return to their duties at the Woodstock location, which was closed during the strike. Negotiations went on for months, and ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the union offered arbitration to the CCACs months ago.
February 16: The 3,000 Ontario CCAC workers who have been on strike since January 30 are returning to their jobs (Kawartha Lakes This Week, February 16, 2015). ONA and the CCACs reached an agreement to go to arbitration.
February 17: Approximately 3,000 CCAC workers will be back at work on Tuesday while the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CCACs turn to an arbitrator (Waterloo Region Record, February 17, 2015). The workers, including about 260 in Waterloo Region and Wellington County, went on strike January 30.
February 17: The Hamilton Spectator (February 17, 2015) reports that 3,000 Ontario Nurses’ Association CCAC workers will return to work on Tuesday after the two sides agreed to arbitration. Talks between the CCACs and ONA at mediation failed and they have agreed that arbitration is the best way to end the 16-day labour dispute.
February 17: The strike by ONA members working in CCACs is over (Chatham Daily News, February 17, 2015). The two sides will head to arbitration, ending the two-week strike. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says there has been a waste of health-care dollars during the strike, and that its offer to go to arbitration months ago was a fair and reasonable one, which would have ensured patient care continued.
February 17: One CCAC nurse says you have to fight for what you believe in, and she will be among 3,000 CCAC workers returning to work today (North Bay Nugget, February 17, 2015). The dispute between the ONA members and their CCAC employers will head to arbitration following the two-week strike. North East CCAC RN Jennifer Hunt says the outcome is a victory. “It was really hard to do this,” she said. “Our union presented CCAC the offer of going to an arbitrator months ago, but they refused it. So we had no choice, we went on strike.” She says she and her fellow nurses learned the meaning of the word solidarity while on strike. “We formed bonds we would never have formed before,” she said. “We learned how to work together and the importance of strength in numbers.” She notes that the strike likely changed how business will be conducted, with nurses no longer so willing to work overtime for no pay.
February 17: The 212 local health care workers on strike since January 30 will head back to work today (Belleville Intelligencer, February 17, 2015). Members of ONA are working now as the matter heads to arbitration. South East CCAC communications manager Gary Buffett says he is “grateful” health care workers will be back to work. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the strike has been a “colossal waste of health care dollars…we always believed that our offer of several months ago to go to interest arbitration was affair and reasonable and best for our patients that we serve.”
February 17: The Barrie Examiner (February 17, 2015) reports that the two-week strike by CCAC workers has come to an end. The dispute will now head to arbitration; the workers have been without a contract since March 2014. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that her group offered to go to arbitration months ago, but “these greedy CEOs would rather have our members frozen out on the picket lines than show these health-care professionals the respect they so highly deserve.” She continued to urge the CCACs to negotiate a fair contract and avoid the cost of arbitration.
February 17: More than 3,000 nurses and health care workers will be on the job today as the labour dispute between ONA and the CCACs heads to arbitration (Sarnia Observer, February 17, 2015). Nurses had asked for a 1.4 per cent wage increase in each year of a two-year deal. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud slammed the strike as a “colossal waste of health-care dollars,” saying the union had offered to go to arbitration months ago. ONA member Mary Joan Kivell says that as cold as it was being on the picket lines, the strike turned out to be an important part of the process. “We would have been happy to go to arbitration instead of going on strike,” she said. “That’s what ONA had wanted, but that’s not the way it worked out. I think the strike has brought a lot to light, and I think it was definitely unnecessary, unfortunately.”
February 13: Local nurses and care coordinators continued to rally in Stratford as representatives from the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CCACs were called back to the negotiating table on Thursday (Stratford Beacon-Herald, February 13, 2015). About 30 ONA members marched around city hall and through the downtown core on the 14th day of the strike. Jane Feltz, a local ONA site representative, said the workers “just wanted to come downtown to make sure even more of the public is aware of what’s going on, the reasons why we chose job action, and to ask for their support.” She adds that they are feeling supported by the community and want people to know that as front-line workers, the strikers are in people’s homes on a daily basis. She says the health professionals are not seeking wage parity with hospital nurses, but are seeking the same 1.4 per cent increase that other ONA members received.
February 15: ONA and the CCACs have agreed to go to arbitration, ending a two-week strike (Canadian Press, February 15, 2015). The ONA members walked off the job last month, with wages the main issue. Linda Haslam-Stroud, President of ONA, blasted the nine centres for taking so long to agree to arbitration. “There has been a colossal waste of health care dollars as the employer spent taxpayers’ money foolishly on catered meals for management, overtime, strike-breaking security firms and high-priced lawyers, and who knows what else – with complete disregard for the public purse. We always believed that our offer of several months ago to go to interest arbitration was fair and reasonable.”
February 16: After 16 days on the picket lines, ONA striking home care coordinators will return to work on Tuesday and the dispute will head to arbitration (Windsor Star, February 16, 2015). The CCAC spokesperson says that “we are very pleased that we will be able to resume our full range of care to patients.” During the two-week dispute, home care clients, including a 90-year-old war veteran, were left in limbo waiting for reassessments and changes to their home care plans.
February 16: More than 3,000 nurses and health care workers will return to work after spending two weeks on the picket lines (Toronto Sun, London Free Press, Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, Sudbury Star, Belleville Intelligencer, Sarnia Observer, February 16, 2015). The dispute between ONA members and the CCACs will head to arbitration. Nurses had been asking for a 1.4 per cent increase in each year of a two-year contract. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has slammed the strike as a “colossal waste of health care dollars,” and says the union had offered to go to arbitration months ago. “Unfortunately, it took our members’ resolve when forced out on to the picket lines to bring the government and the employers to their senses.”
February 16: Striking CCAC workers will return to work on Tuesday after sending their labour dispute to arbitration (Toronto Star, February 16, 2015). The decision was announced Sunday and comes after months of failed negotiations. Workers from nine CCACs hit the picket lines on January 30. The dispute is mainly over wages. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she is pleased the matter is going to arbitration, noting that it has been a “difficult” negotiations process. She said the ONA had been pushing for arbitration for months but that it had been rejected until now. She adds that the employers have “wasted taxpayer money, they’ve prevented our patients from getting the care they desperately require and they’ve basically broken any kind of working relationship they had with these very educated professionals that were keeping the health-care system glued together.” Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the CCAC workers are “essential to continuing the transformation of home and community care in Ontario. We cannot do this without them.”
February 13: Health Minister Eric Hoskins is calling for the CCACs and ONA to go to arbitration to end a two-week strike (QP Briefing, February 13, 2015). “With more than 650,000 people receiving services from the CCACs, including seniors and those with complex care needs, I am strongly urging both parties involved in the current labour negotiations to resume talks and agree to interest arbitration,” said Hopkins. ONA says that they have long been open to arbitration and that hasn’t changed. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the union brought suggestions to mediated talks on Thursday of how to end the dispute, but the employers brought substantially the same offer back to the table.
February 13: Renewed hope for a contract settlement for CCAC workers was short-lived on Thursday (Windsor Star, February 13, 2015). Mediated talks failed, with ONA’s bargaining team saying the employer offered “substantially the same offer” previously rejected by the union. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud reminded the public that the union’s offer to go to binding arbitration, which was first suggested months before the strike, still stands.
February 13: Arbitration appears to be on the horizon for home care workers and their employer (Toronto Star, February 13, 2015). ONA and the CCAC bargaining team met for mediated talks but they ended without a resolution. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says her union has been asking for arbitration for weeks. “Now I understand they’re saying ‘yes they will’ but they’re not very happy about it,” she said. CCAC workers have been on strike since January 30. The sticking point has been wages, with the ONA members asking for a 1.4 per cent increase in each of two years. Haslam-Stroud describes the negotiations as “absolutely disgraceful.”
February 13: Talks between ONA and the CCACs have broken down again (Belleville Intelligencer, February 13, 2015). The two sides walked away late Thursday night following a full-day meeting with a mediator. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna said that the purpose was to participate in exploratory discussions. Meanwhile, Hospice Prince Edward has weighed in, saying that the strike has meant that people who need residential hospice care can’t be admitted.
February 14: Students struggling with mental health and drug addiction issues are not receiving the care they need because of the CCAC labour dispute, say a group of nurses in Windsor (Windsor Star, February 14, 2015). Tanya Rauls says she was devastated to learn that many of the 50 students she works with are not getting the services they count on during the strike. They are just another example of people suffering because of failed contract talks between the ONA members and CCACs. With the estimated 3,000 home care workers on strike, a skeleton crew of replacement staff at the Erie St. Clair CCAC has been focused solely on new patient assessments; specialized services for mental health are not being addressed. One of the nurses has heard from a school principal that their services are sorely missed.
February 14: While “anxious Ontarians watch a strike by home-care coordinators, a cash-strapped Liberal government has plans that could strip the home-care agency of its monopoly” (London Free Press, February 14, 2015). The report says that total spending on the centres is more than $2 billion annually. They have become a target for opposition parties and RNs, who bristle at the doubling of executive salaries and the sums of money paid to agencies that pay others to provide health care. NDP Health Critic France Gelinas says that we don’t need a CCAC between care coordination and those who need care because we already have a standard of care. Now, Queen’s Park is looking at providing a set amount per patient depending on needs, leaving it to hospitals and community providers to split up the shares. Gelinas does fear that hospitals and community groups will cherry pick the healthiest patients and push everyone else to the back of the line. RNAO head Doris Grinspun would like to scrap the CCACs and use the savings to provide more home care, shift the work of care coordinators to nurses with primary-care teams and shift management to regional managers with LHINs.
February 14: Health and Long-Term Care Minister Eric Hoskins is calling on both sides in the CCAC dispute to return to bargaining (Broadcast News, February 14, 2015). He notes that more than 650,000 people receive services from the CCACs. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says the main issue in the dispute is wages.
February 14: Though both sides in the CCAC strike negotiated all day Thursday and into the night, no agreement has been reached between striking home care coordinators and the CCACs (Windsor Star, February 14, 2015). ONA’s bargaining team says the CCAC offered “substantially the same offer” that its members had already rejected during mediation. Haslam-Stroud reminded the public that the union had offered to go to arbitration, and that offer still stands.
February 14: Mediation has failed to resolve Ontario’s CCAC strike (Kingston Whig-Standard, February 14, 2015). Picket lines have been up for two weeks now as more than 200 area CCAC Care Coordinators seek wage increases of 1.4 per cent in each of two years. ONA says that talks broke down when the CCACs tabled the same offer to the union that was previously rejected by its members. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the ONA team brought suggestions to mediation of how to end the impasse and “return the invaluable care that our CCAC health experts bring to their patients.” ONA says it offered to go to arbitration months ago and its offer still stands.
February 14: A labour dispute between ONA members and nine provincial CCACs is in its third week with no end in sight (Chatham Daily News, February 14, 2015). A mediation session at the urging of the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care was fruitless. Minister Eric Hoskins is now urging the parties to settle the dispute through arbitration. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the CCAC bargaining team brought nothing new to the table on Thursday. “No matter which way they cut it, their position is still the same.” She says the members are looking for a 1.4 per cent wage increase in each of two years. She adds that going to arbitration is something that ONA offered months ago.
February 14: The “bone-chilling cold” Friday morning was just another inconvenience for more than 50 striking CCAC nurses in North Bay (North Bay Nugget, February 14, 2015). A lot of drivers shouted encouragement and others in the community brought the strikers hot chocolate, hot coffee and doughnuts. Diana Kutchow, a labour relations officer with ONA, says the striking workers have had a lot of “support like that.” She says her group is being paid $5 or $6 an hour less than the workers in southern Ontario, so the strike is about wages and fairness. She adds that what is most frustrating is that the money is there to give nurses a raise; meanwhile, the ONA and CCACs met in mediation on Thursday, but came away with neither side making any movement. CCAC worker and ONA Local 12 representative Jennifer Hunt says things are worsening for patients needing home care, noting that there is a 700-long queue. MPP Vic Fedeli says he will raise the issue of the strike in the legislature.
February 12: The “much-anticipated meeting between striking home care coordinators and their employer was relocated” yesterday (Windsor Star, February 12, 2015). The meeting was moved to an undisclosed location after a crowd of boisterous protestors rallied outside the Ministry of Labour building.
February 12: ONA members are hoping to end their strike (CHWC Goderich, February 12, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud was in Goderich with the CCAC workers to talk about a call back to the table by the Ministry of Labour. She is calling on the CCAC employer to “step up to the plate” and stop freezing out the care and service providers.
February 11: A rally was held by CCAC striking workers in Goderich and was attended by ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud (CHWC Goderich, February 11, 2015). Haslam-Stroud says that 57,000 ONA members in Ontario received a small, 1.4 per cent increase and that is “all we’re asking for for our members.” She says the picket and rally in Goderich was to help inform the community of the issues.
February 13: A letter to the editor of the Barrie Examiner (February 13, 2015) says that CCAC workers work incredibly hard and the author has received very fine services and care from them. Ruth Hiemstra writes that she brought striking CCAC workers coffee cards, cupcakes, hot food and “anything to show my appreciation.” Many of the strikers remembered her as their patient. She writes that these nurses deserve our support – and adds that “many of us will need their services and they will always be there for us.”
February 13: CCAC strikers brought their picket lines to Goderich and held a rally on February 11 (Goderich Signal Star, February 13, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud joined the workers and said, “We’re here on the picket line because 3,000 of our registered nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and other allied health professionals have been refused a minor, meager, 1.4 per cent wage increase after we’ve taken wage freezes in the last three-year contract.” She and First Vice-President Vicki McKenna were there despite the bitter cold as workers picketed outside the courthouse and around the square. McKenna says she admires the resolve and strength of the ONA members. Also noted was the support of the community.
February 13: ONA striking CCAC members met yesterday with the OACCAC for exploratory talks aimed at ending the strike (Sudbury Star, February 13, 2015). NDP Health Critic France Gelinas says the fact that there was no word about the talks probably meant they were continuing. ONA members are seeking a 1.4 per cent increase. Last week, ONA nursing home members were given a 1.5 per cent increase. ONA says that CCAC workers in the north already are paid $6 or $7 an hour less than their colleagues in southern Ontario.
February 13: Contract talks between ONA and the OACCAC continued into the night Thursday (Windsor Star, February 13, 2015). The Ministry of Labour called the talks and ONA presented a new offer. The two sides had not met since late last month when negotiations broke down. Local CCAC health professional Kathy Bourque says, “obviously, every individual unit will want some say on this and there’s nine of them.” Earlier in the day, a “boisterous crowd” of protesters held a rally in front of the Ministry of Labour office, which “proved to be too intimidating for negotiators who were summoned to the meeting.” Bourque estimates that more than 1,000 protestors were present and were too intimidating for the employer’s negotiating team to weed through.
February 12: Ontario Nurses’ Association members on strike are looking for equality, reports the Espanola Mid-North Monitor (February 12, 2015). The CCAC health professionals are on the picket lines in nine locations in the province. In the North East, nine regions were on the picket lines. ONA CEO Marie Kelly says the ONA members are consolidating their picket lines rather than being “everywhere, all the time.” The goal of the strikers is to get the message out. She adds that the workers are hearing of impacts on their patients, and the striking workers are concerned.
February 13: CCAC workers are picketing in Collingwood (Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin, February 13, 2015). The health professionals with the North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC are on strike, asking for a wage increase similar to that received by other nurses working in other sectors. The union said its members also have concerns about workloads. The nurses have had wage freezes and their employer is asking for more wage freezes.
February 10: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that she and others are hearing of horror stories as the CCAC strike by health professionals continues (CKDO Oshawa, February 10, 2015). “You’ve got people who are being discharged at home without ensuring that there’s adequate care for them when they get home,” said McKenna. “Nobody is coming to look after them because the referral didn’t get through the system completely. There’s all kinds of things that are beginning to happen now. The impact is exactly what we feared would happen.”
February 11: CJTK FM Sudbury (February 11, 2015) reports that ONA wants to sit down with the North East CCAC; 300 ONA members have been on strike since January 30, seeking wage increases similar to those awarded nurses in hospitals and long-term care. The nurses are calling on the CEO to “break from the pack” and meet with its members to settle the dispute.
February 12: Hundreds of striking ONA members who work as health professionals in Ontario’s CCACs will gather in front of the Ministry of Labour today in Toronto (Canadian Press, February 12, 2015). They will hold a vigil and rally.
February 12: The North East CCAC nurses in North Bay, Parry Sound and Burk’s Falls are on strike, “standing up against their frozen wages” (Almaguin News, February 12, 2015). Local CCAC nurse Chris Campbell says that wages have been frozen. “We want respect from our employer,” adds nurse Pam Millar. Overall, the message from the nurses is one of fairness. The two nurses work out of the Burk’s Falls CCAC office as care coordinators. Their union, ONA, says they are “community care health advocates.” They note that thousands of other nurses have had an increase of 1.4 per cent but “we’re not seen as real nurses.” The two say that CCAC members “go above and beyond” for their patients. Worst of all, the CEO of the NECCAC, Richard Joly, received a 16-per-cent increase last year; between 2007 and 2013, his wages increased 80 per cent. The raise ONA members are seeking would amount to less than 80 cents an hour. The strike has formed bonds between nurses who belong to ONA. They have also had enormous support from the community.
February 11: There may be “light at the end of the tunnel” for striking health coordinators in Ontario (CTV London, February 11, 2015). After 14 days on the picket line, the Ministry of Labour is bringing the union and province together on Thursday. The striking CCAC members are seeking a 1.4 per cent wage increase over the next two years, the same deal that other nurses in other sectors have received. At a Goderich rally, Linda Haslam-Stroud, President of ONA, says that picketers should not get their hopes up, but she’s “upbeat about the potential.” She says the employer “can’t freeze us out any longer.” Caroline McWhinney, the Bargaining Unit President for the South West CCAC, says “we’re asking for the wage increase…that our other sectors got.” ONA launched radio ads to explain their side of the disagreement to the public.
February 12: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and CCAC representatives will meet with the Ministry of Labour today in an attempt to end a strike that is “starting to drag on” (CBC News, February 12, 2015). About 3,000 RNs and Care Coordinators have been walking the picket lines since January 30. The union is warning that patients will fall through the cracks unless a contract is reached. Local hospitals say there are delays in applications to long-term care and the longer the strike lasts, the more challenging it will become.
February 12: A letter to the editor of the Brockville Recorder and Times (February 12, 2015) says that the reader is a very satisfied recipient of CCAC services. G.E. Burgess writes that despite this, CCAC workers are paid by taxpayer dollars; some of the public hasn’t had a raise in 20-plus years, so if we are discussing public spending during the CCAC strike, people have the right to know what they are being paid.
February 12: War veteran Ronald Taylor isn’t receiving the care he needs at home because of the CCAC strike (Windsor Star, February 12, 2015). In order to receive more support, he needs to see a care coordinator to be assessed. But with thousands of Ontario care coordinators on strike for nearly two weeks, he has to wait. Taylor’s daughter says she is sure there are other people worse off than her father. While administrators say they have been filling the void left behind by the strikers, reassessments of existing patients are their current focus. The ONA members are asking for a 1.4-per-cent wage increase which was outright rejected during negotiations. The nurses have been critical of government for denying the modest pay bump while CEO salaries have increased steadily over recent years. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that she’s been hearing horror stories as she has picketed with members. Meanwhile, the two sides will be meeting for the first time Thursday in what many hope will be the revival of contract talks. The Ministry of Labour has called them into a meeting; ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says “we’re coming with our team ready to have serious discussions, we just hope the employer group is as well.”
February 12: The Ministry of Labour has called the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CCACs to a meeting in Toronto, sparking hope that there could be an end to the two-week-old strike (Belleville Intelligencer, February 12, 2015). Vicki McKenna, ONA First Vice-President, says that the parties will participate in exploratory discussions. About 3,000 ONA members have been on the picket lines since January 30. McKenna says her members want to see talks resume. The Labour Ministry spokesperson says they have taken a neutral position. McKenna says that ONA is bringing a small team and is serious about discussions. “All we’re hoping is that the ministry is doing the same.” CECCAC workers say they face “tremendous workloads” while CEOs have received large pay increases.
February 12: ONA members have been on strike since January 30 and the effects on local hospitals remain unclear (Belleville Intelligencer, February 12, 2015). The workers say that Quinte Health Care is facing numerous problems and delays in care as a result of the strike. ONA’s Marilynn Dee and Marlene Stewart, a care coordinator, say that there was a “super-surge” mode happening in the hospital due to the strike slowing discharge of patients, causing longer wait times, overtime for staff and delaying meetings with families’ patients. QHC officials say that though they weren’t “without problems,” the strike had not caused major disruptions.
February 12: Most of the local health unit’s unionized workers are poised to strike on March 13 (Peterborough Examiner, February 12, 2015). The workers, members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association and CUPE, have been without a contract since last fall and have been offered a .06 per cent increase. The health unit says that money is tight and they can’t offer any more without laying off workers. Diane Lockman, a public health nurse and ONA Bargaining Unit President, says that she and her colleagues are already paid less than their colleagues in neighbouring communities. The starting rate for these nurses is 23 per cent less than in Haliburton.
February 12: Bob Hepburn has written in his Toronto Star column (February 12, 2015) that the “bitter strike” by 3,000 CCAC nurses and health professionals is providing a rare and disturbing glimpse into Ontario’s home and community health sector. The strike by CCAC workers has exposed clear evidence that this is an increasingly critical part of our health care system and is inefficient. The workers are “underpaid and overworked” and scrambling to keep up with growing demand for services. Hepburn says the result is tens of thousands of patients receiving too little or no care at home, in nursing homes and schools. Too often, patients are pushed out of hospital too quickly in an effort to save money; the stresses and demands placed on them have “created a group of dedicated workers who rightly feel frustrated, disillusioned and underappreciated.” Hepburn takes to task Health Minister Eric Hoskins for saying home care is his priority. He will have the opportunity over the next few weeks to prove it when two major reports land on his desk – the first, a provincial review of community and home care; the second, a provincial auditor’s report on the financial operations of CCACs. If Queen’s Park politicians fail again, they will only have themselves to blame.
February 12: Striking CCAC workers have issued a challenge to the local CCAC CEO (North Bay Nugget, February 12, 2015). The ONA members are calling on Richard Joly to “break from the pack and sit down with members to settle the labour dispute.” ONA says wage increases similar to what is being sought by the CCAC workers have been awarded to thousands of other nurses. While ONA members employed by CCACs normally don’t bargain centrally, the Ontario Association for Community Care Access Centres has been negotiating for all its members, meeting with bargaining units from ONA in individual CCACs. ONA’s Diane Kutchaw says members are “frustrated” by the illogical approach to bargaining and by the fact they don’t really know with whom they are negotiating. Some ONA members met with Joly in Sudbury last week and retabled their contract proposal; they have had no response. Joly told some strikers that the NE CCAC has a surplus now; ONA doesn’t believe the strike is about money. The ONA members note that each CCAC has its own CEO and board, but won’t bargain individually. Local Bargaining Unit President Louise McNeil met with Joly and says he insisted he is the decision-maker for his agency. Yet he won’t step away from the OACCAC. McNeil is also concerned with the “cleanup” ONA members will have to do when they return to work because their duties have been neglected.
February 12: A letter to the editor of the Barrie Examiner (February 12, 2015) says that as a care coordinator who has also worked in a hospital, the author knows that both roles require enormous skills. Care coordinators aren’t protected by the confines of a controlled setting with a lot of the supports that are needed. Marian Facciolo writes that people in their own homes are “more likely to be themselves…I get to know and appreciate their life circumstances so much better.” There is a moral and ethical distress for care coordinators and other front-line workers as they try to advocate, provide quality care and adequately address complex issues and risks without adequate agency support. The strike is about much more than 1.4 per cent increase, she says.
February 12: A letter to the editor of the Barrie Examiner (February 12, 2015) says that as a striking CCAC care coordinator, the author has a number of interesting patient stories. Miae Kim writes about what she does daily in her job; this includes home visits to ensure that patients are going to get the health care they require. Kim writes that her union, ONA, recognizes that CCACs are not hospitals. There are 60,000 ONA members working in every health-care sector, and this is precisely why ONA is advocating for healthy working conditions and a 1.4 per cent wage increase for CCAC workers. The work demands of client care coordinators requires advanced assessment skills, problem-solving skills and exceptional communication skills for managing care in the community.
February 12: A letter to the editor of the Sarnia Observer (February 12, 2015) says that in the last week, much has been said in the media about the Community Care Access Centres. Sue McCabe writes that as a striking ONA member she and her colleagues are “striking for fairness…for the citizens of Ontario.” She notes that she and her colleagues have met your family, heard your fears for your mom, dad, child and yourself. We work hard to make sure your health care needs are” met. The strikers are skilled professionals and provide care for many suffering from illnesses and they act on short-term medical emergencies. McCabe asks readers to imagine how they felt after learning the CCACs have been given money to help the Erie St. Clair deficit, and the “first thing our CEO did was give each director and manager a three-per-cent raise and bonus initiatives to reduce the cost of their programs.” She wonders if this is why she and her colleagues were directed to cut home care services to patients. As the person who helps the community, McCabe asks people to go to ONA’s website and read about the issues. And she’s asking for their support.
February 11: Ten health-care professionals are on the picket lines in Gravenhurst today (Bracebridge Examiner, February 11, 2015). The workers are picketing in front of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit as part of the CCAC strike. Shannon Staley, a care coordinator for the local CCAC says “we are not asking an unreasonable raise. I think now it is also about the respect we deserve as nurses in our community.” Members of ONA Local 17 went on strike with many of their colleagues after negotiations failed on January 30.
February 11: Local health care professionals are on the picket lines in Exeter (Exeter Times Advocate, February 11, 2015). Laurie Henderson, a care coordinator and Seaforth site representative for the Ontario Nurses’ Association group, says that “almost 3,000 health care professionals, mainly nurses, drew a line in the sand.” Caroline McWhinney, ONA Bargaining Unit President for the group, says that “we did not feel the employer recognized the work we do every day for our patients and our request is for wage improvements equal to our ONA counterparts in other sectors. Now with today’s arbitration award for nursing home sectors providing a 1.5-per-cent increase: in the first year and 1.4 in the second year, our request seems reasonable…”
February 12: More than 200 CCAC employees are continuing to walk the picket line outside of area hospitals and offices (Perth EMC, February 12, 2015). The ONA members say they have been buoyed by the positive response they’re receiving from drivers who are showing their support. Kate Donnelly, a local CCAC staff member, says “we’ve been really amazed at how people are responding to us.” She says the support from the community has strengthened their resolve to have “our management respect us for the jobs that we do.” The report notes that to do their jobs properly “with the client’s needs in mind takes many hours, some of which go unpaid.” That is why the secondary element ONA is looking at is finding a solution to the heavy workload of its members through the hiring of additional care coordinators or other means.
February 12: A letter to the editor of the St. Lawrence EMC (February 12, 2015) says that the author supports the striking ONA members who work as care coordinators in the province’s CCACs. Steve Weir writes that the ONA members play a vital role in community care, providing urgent hands-on care, palliative care and mental health and addictions services. They face serious patient caseload issues, and are highly skilled. Weir writes that he remains fully behind the front-line health care professionals who are the “foundation” of community health care. Weir describes himself as a “thankful recipient of these services.”
February 12: ONA members and the CCACs will be called back to the bargaining table Thursday morning (Kingston Whig-Standard, February 12, 2015). The Ministry of Labour has ordered mediated talks to try to put an end to the ONA strike, which will be entering its third week soon. The CCAC in the region employs more than 200 care coordinators who include RNs, NPs, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and more. Picket captain Laurie Black-Vincent told the Whig-Standard that her CCAC has hired a security firm to watch over the picketing nurses. “I’m very disappointed in our employer,” she said. “I’ve been here almost 20 years.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud had gone to one of the CCAC’s negotiators to request that talks resume; Black-Vincent said the response was “no way, get out of my office.” She says it’s disheartening to hear the employer say publicly that they’re asking to come back to the table “and then when we ask every day…they turn us down.”
February 11: Striking ONA members are alleging that the South West CCAC is using unqualified employees to handle patient care during the strike (Norwich Gazette, February 11, 2015). “Would you want a CEO looking after your mother?” asked Sharon Gall, as she picketed with ONA members. ONA says that accounting and HR staff at the South West CCAC are dealing with aspects of patient care during the strike. Management says the claims are not true. Oxford CCAC worker Mary Joan Kivell says the strike is driven by more than wage increases, saying that “we need to be able to be sure that we can have qualified people working in the community, providing care.”
February 11: About 20 Ontario Nurses’ Association members walked the picket line outside the Central East CCAC in Port Hope on Tuesday (Northumberland News, February 11, 2015). The CCAC workers walked off the job on January 30, including RNs, NPs, RPNs, social workers, physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and allied health professionals. Port Hope’s picket captain, Shannon Sheehy, says she and her colleagues provide a large range of services and care for a broad area, and bring care into people’s homes. Officials with the CCAC say there is no update to offer regarding negotiations. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that CCAC workers are eager to return to work, but noted that their “bosses – the CEOs of nine of the CCACs – have steadfastly refused to even discuss the nominal wage increase our members are asking for.”
February 10: Health professionals with the striking Central CCAC say if they had their way, they’d be on the job rather than walking a picket line (Kawartha Lakes This Week, February 10, 2015). The ONA members are seeking wage increases comparable to the percentage increases awarded to 57,000 other Ontario ONA members. Anne Clark, Region 2 VP for ONA, says that ONA has tried to get back to the bargaining table, but the employer either does not respond or has nothing new to offer. “The longer we stay out, the more the people of Ontario are paying for it,” says Clark. Patients in the area are already starting to suffer. Patients are using the ER when necessary.
February 6: Mental health nurse Daniem Chivers worries about the students he’s not been able to see for an extended period of time (Canadian Health Network, February 6, 2015). He is one of 190 CCAC nurses who went on strike over wages that they wish to see more in line with nurses in hospitals. The nurses are expressing concern about their patients as the strike continues.
February 11: A letter to the editor of the Peterborough Examiner (February 11, 2015) says that more than 500 members of the Central East CCAC have been on strike since January 30 because their employer has a mantra of “reduce, reduce, reduce.” Care coordinators are constantly battling for patients with management. Workloads are excessive and most are working many extra work hours without pay. The workers took a two-year wage freeze in the last contract and now want a “meager” 1.4 per cent increase. The nurses are fighting for fairness, writes Karen Bethune. CEOs of the CCACs have all had hefty increases; the decision to strike wasn’t taken lightly.
February 11: A letter to the editor of the Kirkland Lake Northern News (February 11, 2015) says that as striking ONA Local 12 members, the community deserves a “huge thank you” for the amazing support given to the health professionals. Shannon Carey of the NE CCAC, Kirkland Lake Branch, writes that the workers have been overwhelmed by the support from the community, including the donations of coffee, hot chocolate, tea, muffins, donuts, and cash. The well wishes of the community has helped keep them strong and united on the picket lines. The workers are asking for a 1.4 per cent wage increase and a 2 per cent Northern allowance to keep from falling further behind their counterparts in southern Ontario and nurses in other sectors across Ontario. She urges readers to visit www.ona.org and send a message to the MPP.
February 10: The North East CCAC nurses are on strike, “standing up to their frozen wages” (Almaguin News, February 10, 2015). Nurse Chris Campbell says she has not had a raise for three years and her colleague Pam Millar says she wants “respect from our employer.” The nurses are “community health advocates” and they are seeking the same 1.4 per cent increase other ONA members in other sectors have been given. The nurses note that their care and services take an enormous burden off the shoulders of families and they go “above and beyond.” Their training and education brings them the ability to use “critical thinking” and provide holistic care to their patients. The CEO of the North East CCAC, Richard Joly, has received a 16 per cent increase, they note, and between 2007 and 2013, his salary rose about 80 per cent. The piece notes that nursing home nurses were awarded a 1.5 per cent increase.
February 10: Cathy Bourque, an ONA member and striking CCAC worker, has told CHOK Radio Sarnia (February 10, 2015) that bargaining for a new contract went on for about 10 months. “It was not easy bargaining. The OACCAC was involved…and the one outstanding issue was our wages.” She notes that in Ontario, 57,000 other nurses and ONA members received a 1.4 per cent wage increase. The CCAC workers also want that increase, which she notes equates to roughly 60 cents an hour. She said that the public doesn’t know what she and her colleagues do, and she wants to ensure that the sector is attractive to young nurses who want to make a career out of this kind of work. Bourque detailed the kind of vital services and care CCAC members provide, and expressed concern that the services are on hold now.
February 5: CICI TV Sudbury (February 5, 2015) reports that the Ontario Nurses’ Association members working at CCACs have been on strike for one week now. Tiziana Silveri of the North Bay Regional Health Centre reports that there have been some delays in referrals. Hospital social workers have tried to fill in for the work the eight or nine care coordinators would normally perform.
February 6: CKCO TV Kitchener-Waterloo (February 6, 2015) reports that CCAC workers on the picket lines say they want to be back at work. Heather Roberts, a Care Coordinator, says “we are health care professionals, and we do feel responsibility.” The impact has already been felt by the community, with Caressant Care saying there have been no new family tours at any of the area’s 19 long-term care homes since the strike began. Regional hospitals say they have also been some delays, though nothing major yet.
February 5: CFPL TV London (February 5, 2015) reports that the impact of the CCAC strike has meant some families are struggling. It profiles an 84-year-old woman who could soon be separated from her husband because she’s not receiving enough home care. CUPE says it’s all because of funding that has not been enough to make up for all the years of hospital cuts.
February 9: CBC London Radio (February 9, 2015) reports that nurses with the area CCAC continue to strike and were joined by ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud on the picket lines in London. Haslam-Stroud says the workers are seeking a 1.4 per cent increase.
February 10: CCAC workers began a second week of picketing in the snow (InsideBelleville.com, February 10, 2015). There are more than 200 local health care professionals off the job and there is no end in sight. Patients in the region will get little or no service as long as the strike drags on, say the workers. Marline Stewart, one of the striking nurses, says that “all we’re asking for is 1.4 per cent and what they want to do is give us a lump sum, which they did two years prior to that, and freeze our wages.”
February 10: CBC Radio Ontario This Morning (February 10, 2015) has interviewed ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud about the ongoing strike by CCAC health professionals. Haslam-Stroud described the range of services and care the workers provide, and said that the main dispute is that 57,000 other ONA members received wage increases over the last year of a minimum of 1.4 per cent. The CCAC employers want their workers to take another wage freeze. Haslam-Stroud notes that the CCAC CEOs are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and have seen 100-per-cent increases over the last five years, even as ONA members took wage freezes. Each wage grid for the 10 CCACs represented by ONA is different; one CCAC group accepted another wage freeze, which ONA supports, and they are one of the highest-paid in the province. She adds that the CCAC members have been without a contract since last April, and the employers are not budging from the first position in negotiations. Haslam-Stroud described stories she has heard of CCAC secretaries Googling medications for IV antibiotics, the elderly being admitted into long-term care without having the appropriate assessment done and leaving them and other residents at risk. She adds that hundreds of home care referrals aren’t being completed, hospitals are opening additional beds and paying overtime because of the strike. She urges the CCACs to get back to the table so members can get back to work.
February 9: ONA’s Diane Peckham says that there has been no movement in the ongoing CCAC strike (CKNX AM, February 9, 2015). While the nurses continue to strike for a modest 1.4 per cent increase, and “a little respect and dignity,” the nurses in Wingham held an information picket.
February 9: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud has visited her striking CCAC members on the picket lines in London and CBC London (February 9, 2015) reports that motorists are supporting the nurses. As they brave frigid temperatures, the support is clear. Haslam-Stroud says the modest 1.4 per cent increase being sought by the nurses pales in comparison with the salary increase the manager of the South West CCAC has received. Since 2006, the CEO has received a 144 per cent increase and is “sitting in her little warm office, freezing out her health care providers that want to get back to work,” said Haslam-Stroud. The CEO, Sandra Coleman, says her salary is not relevant any more than what ONA’s CEO or President are paid. While ONA says it’s ready to return to the bargaining table any time, Coleman says she will wait to be summoned back by a mediator.
February 9: ONA members who are on strike staged a CCAC information picket in Wingham yesterday (CKNX Wingham, February 9, 2015). About 300 workers from the South West CCAC are on strike; Diane Peckham of ONA said that nursing home ONA members just got a 1.5 per cent increase. The RNs and health professionals are “asking for a little respect and dignity” she said.
February 11: About 300 members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association are calling on North East CCAC CEO Richard Joly to break away from the pack and sit down with members to settle the strike (Sudbury Star, February 11, 2015). The nurses have been on strike since January 30 over wages. The CCAC workers aren’t seeking wages equal to those in other institutions, but rather to get increases of 1.4 per cent in the first two years of a new contract and a two per cent increase in a small northern allowance they receive. Diane Kutchaw of ONA says that members are frustrated by the “illogical approach” to bargaining and the fact that they don’t really know who they are bargaining with. Louise McNeil, ONA Bargaining Unit President, says the CCAC CEO last week insisted he was the decision maker for the organization, but “won’t step away from the group [the Ontario Association for Community Care Access Centres].” At least one program has been put on hold by the CCAC since the strike began; the nurses and Kutchaw say they are concerned about what’s happening to the patients.
February 11: A letter to the editor from the President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association expresses a heartfelt thank you for the overwhelming support the community and media have shown CCAC members (Orillia Packet & Times, February 11, 2015). Haslam-Stroud writes that the RNs, NPs and health professionals on strike have been heartened by their patients and those in the community. Their employers have relentlessly eroded their ability to provide adequate home care supports for our patients, she writes. Care coordinators are under constant scrutiny regarding services. While we realize that our valuable tax dollars must be spent wisely, the health professionals are under constant pressure to reduce services while handling about 30 to 50 per cent more cases than should be the norm. Many CCAC health professionals are working many hours of unpaid overtime, and have had wage freezes. It is blatantly unfair that the employer is demanding more wage freezes. It’s time for government and the CCACs to step up to the plate for fairness for all. “Our health professionals and patients deserve no less.”
February 11: Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she is hearing horror stories about patient care as she travels the province to boost morale among striking CCAC health workers (Windsor Star, February 11, 2015). “Our nurse practitioners on the palliative care teams are not in the homes,” providing end of life care, she noted. “There was one patient, because they weren’t getting our team in, he had to come to the hospital because of the pain and he ended up dying on a stretcher in the emergency room,” Haslam-Stroud said. Locally, 260 care coordinators have been on strike since January 30. Locally, Windsor Regional has opened more beds because of both a surge in flu cases and the CCAC strike. Haslam-Stroud recounted horror stories from many of the CCACs she has visited since the strike began. Lori Marshall, Erie St. Clair CCAC CEO, says there is a gap in completing new assessments. Political pressure is now building for binding arbitration, a solution that Haslam-Stroud says they offered unsuccessfully during negotiations.
February 10: Public pressure is needed to reverse cuts to hospitals and health care, says the Ontario Health Coalition (North Bay Nugget, February 10, 2015). Executive Director Natalie Mehra said that it’s possible to reverse the cuts if people speak out. She told the audience at a public meeting in North Bay that cuts to the healthcare system have resulted in the loss of 94 full-time and 34 part-time jobs at North Bay Regional over the past three years. ONA’s Rhonda Millar told the group that the situation is so bad at the hospital that if a nurse calls in sick, that position is no longer automatically filled by someone else. If more than one nurse calls in sick, they have to wait and see if they can get along with the staff present before someone else is called in. There is continually more pressure on nursing staff because the nurses are now also responsible for some of the duties of the support staff.
February 4: Nurses from BC joined striking CCAC health care workers picketing in Newmarket (Newmarket Era, February 4, 2015). Dawn Trott, VP of the Ontario Nurses’ Association bargaining committee at the Central CCAC, says the workers “would rather be back at work making sure people are getting the care they need. The public that is driving by, we’ve had a lot of public support on our picket line and we’re hoping for more.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud also picketed with the workers. They are seeking a 1.4 per cent retroactive increase dating back to last March and another 1.4 per cent increase in each of the next three years. Haslam-Stroud says that would be similar to the increases given to 57,000 other ONA members in other sectors. Money for home care isn’t going to the workers, says Trott. Rather, CEOs have received substantial wage increases.
February 10: A letter to the editor of the North Bay Nugget (February 10, 2015) says that as an RN for more than 23 years, the author has witnessed the work of care coordinators. Heather McGuinty writes that the area has experienced growth, and has evolved, weathered and conquered many changes and challenges since the system began 40 years ago. The strength of CCACs lies with the “devoted, skilled, experienced, creative and progressive talents” of its care coordinators and their utmost desire to advocate on behalf of their patients. The care coordinators are the hub of the home care program. She describes the enormous range of skills care coordinators use in their work, and notes that the duties have grown, cases have become more complex and demanding, yet the workers “stay the course.” The workers believe in making a difference, and the reward is in the gratitude expressed by so many patients and their families.
February 10: ONA members are asking Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti to pressure the provincial government to help get both the CCAC management and ONA back to the bargaining table (Sault Star, February 10, 2015). Pam Mancuso, VP of Region 1 of ONA, met with Orazietti while more than a dozen striking CCAC health professionals picketed outside his office. She wants to see a fair wage for the nurses at CCACs who she says “deserve it.” The biggest sticking point with workers in northern Ontario is pay equity with their southern Ontario counterparts. Mancuso adds that workers are eager to get back to the table and have CCAC workers return to their patients. “This work is not being done by the people who were trained to do it,” said Mancuso. “That’s our biggest concern.” NECCAC CEO Richard Joly says he understand that there is a wage gap, and “obviously I’m interested to see equity around that issue. I’ve expressed that opinion to our health minister and that is something I would like to see resolved moving forward.”
February 9: Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield says he is getting a lot of concerned calls from residents about the ongoing CCAC strike in Erie St. Clair (BlackburnNews.com, February 9, 2015). He notes that fewer than 20 managers are trying to do the work of 266 striking health professionals. “You can expect that there will be impacts throughout the system.” He and Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky sat down with ONA CEO Marie Kelly to discuss the labour dispute. Kelly says that ONA has been calling into meetings with two CCACs in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, only to find out they weren’t interested in negotiating, just in holding exploratory talks. She has yet to receive a call from the Erie St. Clair CCAC. Hatfield says it’s time to get back to the bargaining table, or agree to arbitration. The nurses’ demand is a 1.4 per cent increase.
February 10: Ontario’s ongoing strike by home care workers is starting to take a toll (Windsor Star, February 10, 2015). There is an increasing backlog of patients waiting to be assessed, say health officials. The strain is showing now that we are entering the second week of the strike. Windsor Regional Hospital alone has nine patients waiting for assessments, which must be completed before they are moved to long-term care homes. There is also an assessment waiting list for people still living in their homes because “replacement coordinators” are unable to keep up. The longer the strike lasts, the worse the backlog of patient bed blockers will become. Windsor Regional CEO David Musyj says that “as the strike goes deeper and deeper, that backlog starts creating a problem. It could get ugly eventually…it’s going to start adding up.” Erie St. Clair CEO Lori Marshall says she does not have figures for the extent of the overall backlog; representatives for ONA say that the waiting list could be as high as 350 for the region alone. LHIN CEO Gary Switzer says that though replacement workers are “doing a yeoman’s job...they will get burned out.” Politicians are now putting pressure on the government to get back to negotiating. Local MPPs have received calls about the challenges patients are having when trying to get home visits. ONA Bargaining Unit President Sue Gelinas says “there is no way they can deliver the level of care our members do.” She adds that people are talking about how the quality of services have dropped since the strike began.
February 10: Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls has been flooded with calls as people express their mounting concerns over a CCA health professionals strike (Tilbury Times, February 10, 2015). He says that workers are on strike “because the Liberal government has been unwilling to reach a deal with them since last March when their previous contract ended.” He notes that CCACs are already cutting back home care services and completely eliminating care for some patients. Now, thousands of people are having their home care suspended and hospitals may see bigger backlogs. He says the government needs to agree to immediately return to the negotiating table.
February 9: Health professionals on strike for a raise took their message to the streets, picketing in front of Cambridge Memorial Hospital (Cambridge Times, February 9, 2015). Nearly 50 ONA members say their wages don’t measure up to that of other health care workers. Kim Carere, local union president, says “they want to give us zero again.” The union is seeking a 1.4 per cent increase for its members, noting that all other sectors got the increase. Carere adds that members often work unpaid overtime to ensure their patients are taken care of. “We feel very disrespected,” she said.
February 6: CTV News Sudbury (February 6, 2015) reports that OPSEU and ONA members joined forces to send a message to government. ONA members were joined by OPSEU and others at a rally in downtown Sudbury. Louise McNeil, ONA NECCAC Bargaining Unit President, says that there have been wage increases for ONA members across the board, but not for CCAC health professionals. In addition, CCAC workers in southern Ontario are being paid more than those in the north. CCAC health professionals went on strike and say the issues are wages and workloads.
February 6: Despite the strike by some 3,000 CCAC health professionals, management claims that home care patients in Ontario are still receiving assistance (CFZM AM Toronto, February 6, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the message is simple: 3,000 health care professionals want a very minor increase, like 57,000 other registered nurses in Ontario. Let’s step up to the plate. Let’s get this resolved. We want to be with our patients.” Haslam-Stroud says that hundreds of home care patients are on waiting lists now, as management of the province’s CCACs try to train accounting staff to do the specialized work of health care professionals.
February 6: CHOK FM Sarnia (February 6, 2015) reports that Erie St. Clair CCAC’s Cathy Bourque says that though CCAC management continues to say they want to come back to the bargaining table, “they clearly know that ONA has been very transparent…and…until they’re ready to offer us the 1.4 per cent…we’re not prepared to come back to the table unless they’re ready to talk about that.” The piece notes that wages are the main issue, and that the 260 employees in Sarnia have not had a raise in three years.
February 6: Carolyn McWhinney has told CJBK AM London radio (February 6, 2015) that care coordinators are nurses, physios, occupational therapists, social workers…with additional training to connect and advocate for those people who need home care. The work care coordinators do is “wonderful” says the host, and McWhinney says that despite the announcement of a funding increase to CCACs, care coordinators remain on strike. She adds that the nurses want the government to “get us back to the table…this employer has not come to the table with a reasonable offer.” Hospital nurses were given a raise but CCAC workers were not. McWhinney explains that care coordinators were offered lump sums, which are not going to do anything to increase the wages they are paid. She adds that the nurses in nursing homes are receiving increases as well. McWhinney says the strike is backing up ERs, home care patients aren’t being assessed, and “our ONA partners in the hospital that are dealing with us not being there are having a significant problem…and it’s only going to be escalating.” She notes that no one wanted to withdraw their services, but it was their only choice.
February 10: Nurses hardly ever go on strike, so when they do, it “must be bad” (Waterloo Region Record, February 10, 2015). An opinion editorial says that CCAC workers have gone on strike, including in Waterloo Region, and they are the backbone of a health-care system that wants to have more people cared for in their own homes, rather than in more expensive hospitals. Yet they are the only nurses who are “being asked to suck up another year of pay freezes, while their counterparts in hospitals get a raise of 1.4 per cent,” says ONA. The piece argues that this is not fair, as they had two years of pay freezes in their last contract, one raise, and now have gone 11 months with no contract. The piece says that management isn’t taking its share of the burden. While nurses have suffered through wage freezes, top management salaries have soared. CCAC CEOs have averaged 12-per-cent increases per year. In Waterloo Wellington, the CEO was paid 42 per cent more in 2011 than his predecessor. Two things are clear, says the piece: 1) it’s terrible for morale if the CEO gets a big raise every year while giving zero per cent to the front-line workers; 2) it might be easier to achieve savings by “squeezing” those workers, but it isn’t the smart way to save costs. The province should have hired someone with credibility to investigate the health-care bureaucracy and figure it out – designing it so the maximum number of precious health dollars go to patients.
February 9: As the first week of picketing draws to a close there is “no end in sight” for the strike affecting almost 3,000 CCAC health workers across the province (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, February 9, 2015). "Our wages have been frozen for the past two years, and they are offering another wage freeze to us. So we just want what is comparable with the 57,000 other nurses across the province that ONA represents,” says Mary Joan Kivell, an ONA member on strike from the South West CCAC. "The concern is that if we continue with the wage freeze, our wages are falling further and further behind other nurses, and we aren't going to be able to sustain having qualified people working in the community.”
February 9: Striking Kirkland Lake nurses have been braving freezing conditions to picket in front of the local CCAC office (The Kirkland Lake Northern News, February 9, 2015).
February 7: Windsor resident Kathleen Rockey writes that she is in “full support” of home care nurses getting a raise as the community relies on the CCAC which is “a good idea” but is being “devalued” (Windsor Star, February 7, 2015). She says that the government promised that money saved from the closure of local hospitals would go towards “greater home care for the sick and elderly.” “We are losing more and more medical people because our government lies…What happened to all that money that was supposed to make for greater help at home when needed?”
February 7: Negotiations are set to begin for 33 public health nurses at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit whose collective agreement expired Dec. 31 (Simcoe Reformer, February 7, 2015). The nurses are members of ONA Local 007. Norfolk council recently approved a four-year contract for members of CUPE Local 4700 which represents 368 workers; the contract includes wage increases of 2 per cent each year.
February 7: CCAC health professionals on strike in Barrie say that this strike has “been a long time coming” (The Barrie Examiner, February 7, 2015). Peggy Garland, a registered nurse who is out on strike for the first time in her 21 years at the CCAC, says that working conditions and patient safety “are becoming huge (issues)” and adds that raises have only gone to those who don’t provide direct patient care. Barrie MP Patrick Brown, who met with nurses on the picket line, says that he appreciates the nurses holding the provincial Liberals accountable for their missteps in health care.
February 7: ONA members on strike from the Erie St. Clair CCAC wrapped up their first week of picketing with a rally outside the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre (The Chatham Daily News, February 7, 2015). The location was chosen to pressure elected officials to “make a call” on behalf of residents who rely on CCAC services explains ONA CEO Marie Kelly. ONA representatives met with Mayor Randy Hope who says he encourages both parties “to get back to the bargaining table.”
February 7: In a letter to the editor in The Sarnia Observer, Sara Tius, a care coordinator with the Erie St. Clair CCAC who is currently out on strike, writes that while CCAC CEO Lori Marshall says that striking workers are not “front-line staff,” care coordinators “coordinate and provide care when patients are most at risk: following hospitalization, a significant medical event or during a transitional period in their lives” (February 7, 2015). “Our roles might be defined best by the Erie St. Clair CCAC itself: ‘your Care Coordinator works with you to help you access the care and services you need.’ To describe our work as anything but front line is illogical, insulting, degrading and, quite frankly, a complete untruth.” Tius adds that it is “disrespectful and completely farfetched” to assume that things will be business as usual for patients despite the contingency plans that management has put in place.
February 6: Nurses on strike in North Bay, Parry Sound and Burk’s Falls are “fighting for fairness”, protesting a proposed wage freeze and lack of respect from their employer, the North East CCAC (Almaquin News, February 6, 2015). "We're not seen as real nurses," says Pam Millar, a care coordinator who works in the Burk’s Falls branch of the CCAC. "We're seen as second-class nurses. So we're not worth the 1.4 per cent our counterparts get." Millar says that negotiations are at a standstill as CCAC CEO Richard Joly “feels he’s offered us a fair deal” which the nurses will not accept. The striking nurses applaud newly announced wage increases for their counterparts in nursing homes which they hope will “pave the way” for them.
February 6: A statement from the North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC says that the centre remains open and that “regulated health professionals continue to oversee patient care” while ONA members are out on strike (Huntsville Forester, February 6, 2015).
February 7: In a letter to the editor in the London Free Press, Terence Fagan writes that government funding increases to CCACs to “ensure our health system would not suffer” were used to award management raises at the expense of everyone else (February 7, 2015). “Unfortunately, this ‘me-first grab’ does not allow any money for anyone else. Is this fair or reasonable? Does this raise the question of co-operative management or greed? In management, a pay raise of over 40% in five years appears to be normal. Do you wonder why strikes occur?”
February 6: Nurses on strike from the North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC are worried about their patients (Innisfil Journal, February 6, 2015). “I have a child who is coming home next Friday, who's been in hospital for over eight months," says care coordinator Sabrina Umpherson. "She's in Holland-Bloorview. I just want to see her come home to her family as planned, but that can't happen without the proper supports for her family." CCAC CEO Megan Allen-Lamb says that ONA’s hard line on wages is the barrier to negotiations. "It is time for ONA to recognize that we are not the same as hospitals and it is time to come back to the table to bargain."
February 5: Striking CCAC workers in Peterborough remain on the picket lines protesting a proposed wage freeze a week after contract negotiations broke down (CHEX TV, February 5, 2015). At a time when CEO wages are climbing each year, bargaining unit president Ann Rowley says that care coordinators “feel devalued from our employer and from the Ministry.” The nurses want a 1.4 per cent increase per year which would bring them in line with their counterparts in other sectors.
February 5: Six days after a strike affecting 3,000 CCAC workers across Ontario began, the impact on home care services is “starting to be felt” (CJBK AM, February 5, 2015). ONA member Ariel Beaudoin, a care coordinator on strike from the South West CCAC, warns that as the list of patients who need home care grows daily, management will not be able to keep up with referrals.
February 6: CCAC nurses are on the picket lines, seeking the same percentage increases as 57,000 other nurses in Ontario (Kenora Online, February 6, 2015). The labour dispute comes as the health minister promises improvements in home care. Nurses are concerned about the vulnerable people stuck in the middle as the strike continues.
February 5: ONA members are picketing outside the Cambridge Memorial Hospital to draw attention to their fight for a small wage increase (Cambridge Times, February 5, 2015). Wages have already been frozen for two years.
February 5: Waterloo-Wellington CCAC workers say they’re asking for just a small increase and some respect (Guelph Tribune, February 5, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members are standing firm on a 1.4 per cent increase that will amount to about $1,000 per year per person.
February 6: Striking North East CCAC nurses say that patients may have to stay in hospital longer without proper community supports in place (North Bay Nugget, February 6, 2015). Jody Fetterley, a CCAC nurse, says that patients aren’t getting essential care during the strike. “We drastically help decrease the readmission rates back to hospital.” The nurses are seeking a 1.4 percent increase. In addition, the nurses are concerned about workloads. Fetterley says the nurses are receiving phenomenal support and donations from the community. They say the union is ready to return to the table when there’s something worth discussing.
February 5: ONA members in Timmins are on strike (Timmins Times, February 5, 2015). The CCAC workers went on strike last Friday for wage increases, and they say they have 37 workers on the picket lines in Timmins. No one in the Timmins CCAC office was available to comment on how CCAC clients are being served. Nurses say they are fighting for fairness. They are seeking the same increase as other nurses were given in the province.
February 5: A column in the Kitchener Post (February 5, 2015) says that picket signs for CCAC workers are a sign of the times. After a wage freeze, ONA members are looking for fairness. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the strike is a fight for “dignity and respect” and sends an important message to CEOs. No one can argue that they perform a valuable service. The problem is where the money will be found.
February 5: An op ed in the Walkerton Herald-Times (February 5, 2015) says that nobody wins in a strike, and while the author doesn’t usually side with unions, this time he believes the striking CCAC workers are right. The piece says the author is “ready to picket right beside them.” The editorial asks how the government can defend giving 57,000 health care workers raises while demanding that 3,000 who don’t make as much take a third consecutive wage freeze. The increase is “pitiful” when considering the average wage of the front line workers; they are demanding 1.4 per cent. When compared to the reported 144 per cent increase given to the CEO of the South West CCAC last year, it’s no wonder opposition parties are screaming for a review.
February 5: Staff at the South Bruce Grey Health Centre who haven’t had a flu shot will have to wear a mask in patient areas (Walkerton Herald-Times, February 5, 2015). President and CEO Paul Rosebush said that fewer than 40 per cent of staff had the shot, down from 60 per cent last year. The matter is going to arbitration after the nurses’ union filed a grievance at another hospital last summer. While the vaccine is not a good match this year, experts recommend having it anyway.
February 5: An article in Rabble.com (February 5, 2015) says that while the government cuts hospitals and downloads services onto the community, CCAC CEOs have been giving themselves hefty pay increases and forced front-line health care workers onto the picket lines to fight a wage freeze. CCAC workers provide essential care to patients,” says Linda Haslam-Stroud, ONA President. Now, 3,000 ONA members are braving the cold – after a two-year wage freeze, they are just asking for a 1.4 per cent increase, the same received by the 57,000 other RNs working in other sectors in Ontario. CCAC CEOs like Richard Joly in the North East are giving themselves a 48 per cent pay hike. ONA’s Margaret Marcotte is calling on people to call the CEOs of these organizations, their MPPs and their LHINs and demand that people get back to the table to negotiate a fair deal.
February 5: A Bluewater Health executive says that six days into a strike, the impact has been “minimal” (Sarnia Observer, February 5, 2015). Lynda Robinson, VP of operations at Bluewater Health, says ‘there’s been minimal or no disruption to date.” That doesn’t mean there’s no impact locally, however. Janet Griffin, ONA representative, says that “we know what’s going on in our community and we worry about the impact of us not being there.” No mental health and addiction services for children in schools and increased hospital readmissions are just two of the impacts, she said. Rapid response team nurses are not out there, and while members don’t want to be on strike and are concerned for patients, both sides have failed to set bargaining dates. Griffin says ONA members are receiving support from patients. She was told of one patient whose surgery was cancelled over concerns about delays in accessing home care.
February 5: Zoomer radio (CFZM Toronto, February 5, 2015) has interviewed ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud about the ongoing CCAC strike. While the government continues to insist CCAC clients are getting services, Haslam-Stroud says that people should believe them as the striking health professionals actually do the work. After spending time on the picket lines across Ontario, Haslam-Stroud has heard of non-qualified people trying to do the work of Care Coordinators, and of forms filled out requesting services that have been sitting in a pile somewhere, unattended to. “Business is not as usual for our patients,” she said. She urges people to contact the government and tell them to instruct CCAC managers to get back to the table. She says that some ONA members have approached management to come back and negotiate and have been thrown off the property. Haslam-Stroud says the message is simple: 3,000 CCAC staff want a very minor increases, just like 57,000 other nurses in the province have received.
February 5: Hospitals and long-term care homes are feeling the impact after seven days of a strike by CCAC health professionals (CKCO TV Kitchener-Waterloo, February 5, 2015). CCACs maintain that there are no major problems, but long-term care homes are concerned about the lack of new patients applying and the information that is lacking when a new resident does appear.
February 5: There was a rally to demonstrate solidarity with CCAC workers from the Ontario Nurses’ Association yesterday in downtown Sudbury (CTV News Sudbury, February 5, 2015). Public service employees say the nurses and health professionals aren’t being treated fairly and government isn’t bargaining fairly either. OPSEU spoke up for the 296 CCAC nurses walking the picket line.
February 5: CCACs have been forced to make cutbacks and the results can be heartbreaking, reports CTV News London (February 5, 2015). While CCAC workers are on strike, people aren’t getting quick access to home care. CUPE says that care is being rationed by the CCACs now.
February 5: More than 100 OPSEU members, ONA members and Unifor members participated in a rally in Sudbury to critique the Liberals on health care cuts and the privatization of public assets (Sudbury Northern Life, February 5, 2015). ONA Local Bargaining Unit President Louise McNeil says the support from the other unions of her CCAC members who are currently on the picket lines has been important. Nurses at the North East CCAC have been on strike since January 30 and believe they are not being fairly compensated. “Having nurses on strike is a highly unusual thing,” said McNeil. We don’t want to be here. It’s not something we want to do. It’s breaking our hearts to be away from our patients.” She adds that there still remains nothing on the table that she can bring to members.
February 5: A letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star (February 5, 2015) says that as CCAC health professionals, ONA members counsel dying people while helping them decide where they want to die, they ensure they have the services they need, provide treatments to be given in home if that is the patient’s wish. Lisa Turpin writes that she and other CCAC health professionals help a range of patients, even as they have had their lives threatened and safety compromised in people’s homes. Yet nurses are trained to deal with threats and help those in distress get the help they need. While CCAC nurses may not do what people think a nurse does, there are many faces of nurses.
February 4: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud joined striking CCAC workers on the picket lines in the South East (CJBQ AM, February 4, 2015). She says her members are seeking a pay increase similar to other health care workers in the province. “Our message really is we want a fair deal,” she said. “We’re not asking for the world. And we need the CCAC employers to get back to the table because we’re ready to bargain.”
February 5: CKCO News Kitchener (February 5, 2015) reports that CCAC workers have been off the job for a week, as hospitals and long-term care homes are starting to feel the effects. Care Coordinator Heather Roberts says the nurses are looking for some community support; the Ontario Nurses’ Association members want to be back on the job. “We are health care professionals and we do feel responsibility, and we do enjoy our work,” said Roberts. Caressant Care’s spokeperson says he is very concerned. Since the strike began, just one new application has been processed. Nurses say they’ve heard that in hospitals, day surgery has been impacted, there have been struggles to get people home, and patients are being admitted and spending longer in the ER.
February 6: Striking NE CCAC nurses in Greater Sudbury got a proverbial shot in the arm yesterday at a rally (Sudbury Star, February 6, 2015). Louise McNeil, a CCAC nurse, said it was “heartwarming” to see so many people coming out during a lunch hour rally to support them. Meanwhile, Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife was in Sudbury for the byelection and said the Liberals have spent $8 billion on 3P projects which will have a “big surprise” for unionized workers when the projects are finished. She says the front-line nurses will be kicked out when the privately built hospitals are finished. Union members at the rally had encouraging messages for striking ONA members. They have been off the job since January 30 and their own contract expired at the end of March 2014.
February 6: A letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star (February 6, 2015) says that as a hospital employee, the author understands what the striking health professionals from the CCACs are experiencing. Todd Warren writes that in health care, staff is always being asked to do more with less, treat more and sicker patients while seeing wages eroded from contracts that do not keep up with the inflation rate. He asks how long health care can continue to function as employers reduce real wages and staff members. A “continued and sustained attack on health-care workers does not lead to a sustainable health-care system,” he writes. Those working at CCACs must find the employer’s offer particularly insulting, he writes, as many of the CEOs have had 50-per-cent wage increases in the last three years. These CEOs have little respect for patients and families who depend on these employees. Warren urges people to support the health professionals who are fighting to maintain a living wage. They are also fighting for their patients, and they support you when you or your family needs care.
February 5: There is no end in sight to the CCAC strike and both sides are accusing the other of being barriers to negotiations (London Free Press, February 5, 2015). The report notes that the South West CCAC gave “massive” raises to top executive Sandra Coleman, with her package shooting up from $117,869 in 2008 to $288,000 while she refuses to give care coordinators a nudge of just 1.4 per cent. Instead, ONA has received the message that they may not be worth as much as nurses working in hospitals. ONA says the care coordinators aren’t seeking wage parity, but rather want to keep the gap from further widening. The workers fear for their patients during the strike, saying they would prefer to be working.
February 5: The Kingston Whig-Standard (February 5, 2015) reports that CCAC workers in the South East are feeling “unappreciated, disrespected, and patients are suffering for it. ONA CCAC workers have been on strike since last Friday; workers are seeking a 1.4 per cent increase and the CCAC is said to be proposing a lump sum instead of payments in lieu of a wage increase. Local president Lisa Turner says that while on the picket line, community support from other unions in Kingston and even complete strangers has been very moving. “We’re keeping Tim Hortons in business with the amount of coffee and Timbits people are buying us.” She in no way believes that CCAC managers are keeping up the demand – noting that the elevator to the offices is locked. Patients are leaving applications for care with the strikers instead.
February 4: It’s been six days since the CCAC strike began, and the impact is being felt in the London region (CTV News London, February 4, 2015). People who are on strike are those coordinating care and therapy for patients, and while the Minister of Health has reminded people that 93-per-cent of qualified outpatients see a nurse within five days, the Ontario Nurses’ Association says it won’t be the case much longer. The healthcare professionals say that patients may have difficulty getting care for their loved ones quickly; because the picketers have been outside, NDP MPP Peggy Sattler was handing out hot coffee to picketing nurses to keep up their morale and their body temperatures. ONA member Ariel Beaudoin says that she loves her job and would rather be back at work any time.
February 4: Talks between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and two CCACs could see an end to the strike (CKPC FM, February 4, 2015). Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that talks could resume in two Northern Ontario CCACs. She says that CCAC managers in the two areas have indicated that they would like to get back to the table.
February 4: Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says that as the CCAC strike continues, those patients needing home care will see an impact (CKLW AM, February 4, 2015). He adds that as the strike continues, “I would imagine it will get more and more difficult.”
February 4: In the middle of a strike by CCAC workers, the government has announced that the provincial budget’s funding will help patients get care faster (CFTR AM Toronto, February 4, 2015). The report says the money has already been flowing, but with 3,000 home care workers on strike, the funding will do nothing to bring the strike to an end. The Ontario Nurses’ Association has “a bone to pick with Hoskins’ big number.” ONA’s Bev Mathers says the funding “is not going to translate into people meeting five-day wait times if there aren’t care coordinators working in Community Care Access Centres.” She also said she wonders if there’s money for home care, why can’t the workers receive their first raise in years.
February 5: Health care professionals on strike at the North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC picketed at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital yesterday (Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin, February 5, 2015). Nurses are asking for a wage increase that would bring them on par with other healthcare professionals working in other sectors. “We put the care in home care,” said one picketer. ONA Labour Relations Officer Richard Anderson says the strikers want the same percentage increase awarded to other nurses across Ontario. In addition, the ONA members are concerned about their workloads; “they’ve had wage freezes and the employer is asking for more wage freezes,” said Anderson. He notes that the nursing home nurses in Ontario will get an increase that will be announced tomorrow.
February 5: Both sides in the CCAC strike disagree about the impact on patients of the strike by CCAC Health Professionals (Queen’s Park Briefing, February 5, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association President says that they are being told of concern for patient care since the job action started last Friday. The association representing the CCACs insists that contingency plans are in place that ensure patients are continuing to receive priority services. ONA says the number of patients on CCAC waiting lists is growing as the centres work to train staff to fill in. "Hospital CEOs may be sending their referrals to the CCACs, but no one is talking about what happens to them after they're referred," said Linda Haslam-Stroud. "We believe that all but the most high-needs patients are falling through the cracks."
February 4: ONA members on strike from the North East CCAC picketed outside Temiskaming Hospital earlier this week (The Temiskaming Speaker, February 4, 2015).
February 4: Nurses from British Columbia joined CCAC workers picketing outside the Central CCAC office in Newmarket this week (Newmarket Era, February 4, 2015). Newmarket has become a “focal point” for picketers since the strike, which affects nearly 3,000 CCAC workers across the province, began last Friday. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud joined her members outside Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket on Friday. The CCAC has hired security guards to monitor the picket line outside its Newmarket office.
February 4: OPSEU has invited members of Sudbury’s other large unions including the Ontario Nurses’ Association to join them at an all-unions rally for the provincial byelection on Thursday (Sudbury Northern Life, February 4, 2015).
February 4: The union representing striking health-care professionals at nine Ontario CCACs is concerned that “contingency plans” set in place by managers to help manage the workload during the strike are failing patients(SooToday.com, February 4, 2015). “ONA is aware that hundreds and hundreds of patients are on waiting lists (including 600 patients in one CCAC alone) as CCACs try to train accounting staff to do the highly skilled and specialized work of our Care Coordinators and special care teams,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “Hospital CEOs may be sending their referrals to the CCACs, but no one is talking about what happens to them after they’re referred – we believe that all but the most high-needs patients are falling through the cracks.”
February 4: Cambridge Liberal MPP Kathryn McGarry joined striking Waterloo-Wellington CCAC workers on the picket line Tuesday and handed out coffee (Waterloo Region Record and CBC News, February 4, 2015). McGarry, a former care coordinator at the CCAC, says that the government is “not involved” in the ongoing labour dispute between ONA members at 9 CCACs and CCAC management. Bargaining unit president Heather Roberts says that while McGarry represents a government that wants to minimize health-sector wage increases, the nurses appreciate her support. "She was one of us, she is well aware of our issues."
February 3: ONA’s CEO Marie Kelly joined around 40 CCAC workers outside Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on Tuesday (TBT News, February 3, 2015). Kelly met with local CCAC leadership and encouraged them to get back to the bargaining table. “We've told them we're all here. Our negotiating team is here. I will stay here in Thunder Bay as long as it takes if they want to have discussions with us. We're prepared to meet them anytime anywhere as we always would for bargaining. And it's in their ball court. We're waiting to hear back.” Kelly says that northern nurses on strike are the lowest paid in Ontario. “It's deplorable that northern Ontario continues to be the poor sister and that employers consider that workers in northern Ontario don't need to feed their families, pay their rent, put gas in their vehicles the same way as every other Ontarian does. And I'm very proud of our members up here in northern Ontario who've decided to take a stand.”
February 4: ONA representative Bev Mathers warns that increased government funds to reduce home-care wait times won’t “translate into people needing five-day wait times” as long as 3,000 CCAC care coordinators across Ontario remain on strike (680 News, February 4, 2015).
February 4: A group of 11 ONA members were on the picket line outside Midland’s Georgian Bay General Hospital on Tuesday (Midland Mirror, February 4, 2015). The CCAC nurses want parity with their counterparts in other sectors of the health-care system.
February 5: Nearly 60 health professionals employed by the North East CCAC are on strike demanding equal pay and respect to their counterparts in other sectors (The North Bay Nugget, February 5, 2015). “The work we do is just as valuable as the work of other nurses," says Jennifer Hunt, strike coordinator with ONA Local 12. Hunt adds nurses “did not want it to come to this” and warns that hospitals could begin filling up as almost 3,000 of her colleagues remain on strike across Ontario.
February 5: Striking nurses from the South East CCAC are skeptical that management is keeping up with patient demand while workers are on the picket lines (The Kingston Whig-Standard, February 5, 2015). “There is no way managers are keeping up with the demand," says local bargaining unit president Lisa Turner. “There seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors where our employer is telling the public everything is business as usual...But the elevator to our offices are locked and applications were left with us at the picket line." CCAC managers are handling the workload while ONA members are on strike. A spokesperson for the CCAC, Gary Buffett, says that managers are all qualified medical professionals who only had to receive some extra training to prepare for the strike. "Managers understand the business, that's why they are managers…They are absolutely qualified."
February 3: ONA First Vice President Vicki McKenna warns that without the critical work of CCAC health professionals, hospital emergency rooms will back up as patients are forced to return to the hospital for care (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, February 3, 2015).
February 4: Ontario’s Health Minister Eric Hoskins has announced $75 million in funds to target wait times for home care in the province (QP Briefing, February 4, 2015). The ministry aims to reduce wait times to a maximum of five days for home-care nursing visits. The announcement comes as 3,000 CCAC workers, who coordinate home care across Ontario, are on strike after a breakdown in contract negotiations.
February 4: About 24 health-care workers from Seaforth are part of ongoing job action that has seen 3,000 workers from nine CCACs across Ontario heading to the picket lines (Huron Expositor, February 4, 2015). The striking workers picketed outside Seaforth Community Hospital on Friday braving frigid conditions. "This is very important," said Laurie Henderson, the Seaforth site representative with the ONA. "It's a time where we need to say we need fairness in wages."
February 4: ONA members on strike from the Parry Sound branch of the North East CCAC wrote a letter in the Parry Sound North Star to thank their “small community with a big heart” for all the support they have received during their first weekend on the picket line (February 4, 2015).
February 4: ONA members from the Parry Sound branch of the North East CCAC hit the picket lines Friday in a bid for fair wages, and workloads that ensure they can meet their professional standards and keep patients and the public safe (Parry Sound North Star, February 4, 2015).
February 4: A care coordinator on strike from the Port Hope branch of the Central East CCAC is concerned that patient discharges from Northumberland Hills Hospital will soon be impacted, despite assurances from the health minister that contingency plans are in place to keep things running smoothly throughout the labour disruption (Northumberland Today, February 4, 2015). “The hospital will back up… The (contingency) plan can only last so long," says Shannon Sheehy. Sheehy is one of 25 ONA members on strike from the CCAC’s Port Hope branch. She says that she alone has 81 complex medical patients in her care with multiple serious health issues.
February 4: The Toronto Star’s Bob Hepburn writes that “rot, indifference and inaction” from Ontario’s Ministry of Health have “crippled” the province’s ability to deliver home-care (February 4, 2015). He questions how Health Minister Eric Hoskins can claim home and community care as priorities while agencies cut services and CCAC workers who co-ordinate home care are asked to have their wages frozen. “How can Hoskins claim the home-care sector is critical, but won’t do anything to get high-paid CCAC executives to resume serious bargaining with the nurses?” Hoskins has announced $75 million to support home-care services and has admitted that the home- and community-care systems need to change, something he is “committed to seeing through.” But Hepburn says Hoskins first needs to fix the problems within his own ministry. “That may be his best — and maybe his only — chance to fix Ontario’s ailing health-care system.”
February 4: Hospitals across Quinte region are already facing delays in patient care as the result of the ongoing strike by CCAC health-care workers (The Belleville Intelligencer, February 4, 2015). Quinte Health Care spokesperson Susan Rowe says that it is talking longer to arrange care plans for patients who are ready to leave the hospital. "We're starting to see the pressures slowly build since the strike started, but so far we've been able to manage… We do have some backup plans to make sure that patients are receiving care, although they may have to wait in hospital longer than we would typically have them in order to make sure those services are in place when they return home."
February 4: The CEO of the Erie St. Clair CCAC says that it has been a struggle to keep up with patient volume while nurses and other health professionals are out on strike (Windsor Star, February 4, 2015). "Absolutely, we are missing our (Ontario Nurses’ Association) staff. We look forward to the time when they will return."
February 4: The “gloves are coming off” as the union representing striking CCAC workers “takes a shot” at management of the South West CCAC (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, February 4, 2015). ONA “dropped a bomb” on Monday when they accused the CCAC of using unqualified employees including HR and accounting staff to fill gaps in patient care during the strike. South West CCAC management has fired back saying the accusations are untrue. "As you can well imagine, it's all hands on deck and everyone is jumping in to support patient care. But at all times, care is being provided and delivered by the appropriate people - we have a team here of mostly regulated health professionals," says CEO Sandra Coleman.
February 4: A letter to the editor in The London Free Press accuses CCACs of being “top heavy” with case managers, 21 of whom in the London area are making more than $100,000 a year (February 4, 2015.) “It's my view that these managers do not do the same job as nurses in long-term care facilities or hospitals and therefore they should not have parity with working nurses.” Doris Heisler writes that personal support workers who are doing hands-on work with clients deserve more money.
February 4: PC candidate Paula Peroni, who is running in Sudbury’s provincial byelection Thursday, says that “Liberal mismanagement” is hurting seniors and the health-care system, leading to a labour disruption for health-care professionals and cuts to local hospital nurses (The Sudbury Star, February 4, 2015).
February 4: Letters to the editor in The Barrie Examiner offer support for striking health-care workers (February 4, 2015). Ruth Hiemstra of Midhurst writes that she supports these “dedicated professional caregivers” 100 per cent. “It is time these workers got paid and compensated for the excellent work they do, and the money they save hospitals and emergency services.” Marilyn Muir of Barrie writes that her heart goes out to workers who have been forced to go on strike “due to a lack of respect from their employers. Not only have they (management) not offered their staff a decent deal, they have cut back on the amount of services that the most vulnerable people in our society receive, yet they get raises.”
February 2: While extreme cold weather has kept picketers off the line, the strike continues for more than 100 health-care workers from the North West CCAC in Thunder Bay (CBC Radio 1 Thunder Bay, February 2, 2015).
February 1: ONA members are “in a battle” with the North West CCAC for equal wage increase to other nurses in Ontario (CJBN TV, February 1, 2015). “I think we're just as important as everybody else,” says striking care coordinator Shawndel Polhill. “We are the experts in health care in the community. We care about our clients. We are very upset to be out here. We don't want to be out here. We want to get back to work so that we can get back to our clients.” North West CCAC CEO Tuija Puiras says that they have approached ONA with an offer to get back to the negotiating table at any time.
February 3: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that striking CCAC workers are “not looking for the moon” but rather minimal wage increases and acknowledgement for the work they are doing in the health system (CBC Radio 1 Sudbury, February 3, 2015). She adds that the picket line is “the last place” workers want to be. “So we want, and we've extended the offers to the employer that we, and we've told them for weeks now, that we are ready to be back when you have a serious intention to negotiate.”
February 2: Sun News Network contributor Paige MacPherson speculates that because community care has been a big part of “union friendly” Premier Kathleen Wynne’s platform, the ongoing labour disruption of CCAC workers will likely be “wrapped up in a nice bow” (February 2, 2015). A Sun News reporter says, “I'll go out on a limb and say this is how it's going to go. She's going to come out and announce freeze for the next couple of years and then we'll give you a nice robust eight or nine percent raise on year three. That will be the fine print. The headlines will be Ontario Nurses' Association accepts freeze. And then somehow it will be a huge, you know, monetary gain at the end of it.”
February 2: With an ongoing strike by 3,000 health professionals at Ontario CCACs, Premier Kathleen Wynne is faced with a precedent she set for herself when she gave elementary school teachers who were under a wage freeze extra money for salaries (Sun News Network, February 2, 2015). “She's now up against this other unions that are asking for increases based on the precedent of Kathleen Wynne giving increases to these other unions. So you know, if you say all is fair here for one union to the next, then why is Kathleen Wynne and her Health Minister not allowing for this union to have a proper bargaining process as just like the other ones have?” asks Rebecca Thompson.
February 4: ONA members picketing outside the Guelph branch of the Waterloo Wellington CCAC are “too close for comfort” for employees of other businesses in the plaza (Guelph Mercury, February 4, 2015). According to Randstad branch manager Carrie Harris, who shares the 450 Speedvale Avenue address, the intersection outside the building has become a hotspot for picket lines - and car crashes - in the last couple of years. Harris adds that while she supports strikes and protesting inequality she “draws a line” when picketing becomes dangerous for her employees. "I'm telling staff to stay home because it's too dangerous to cross the picket line.” Heather Roberts, the bargaining unit president representing the picketers, says that they aim to stay on the sidewalk and only temporarily block CCAC workers but adds that there was an incident when a driver attempting to get passed the line bumped into a picketer.
February 4: An editorial in the Guelph Mercury says that the impact of strike by local care coordinators is “challenging to assess” but adds that it is likely to “really hurt” vulnerable citizens (February 4, 2015). The writer speculates that for now, the strike will not be “a more high-profile issue for the organization and provincial health officials” because the impact is being felt by home-care clients who are isolated at home and not in the public eye “separated from others like them, so they have little ability to network or mobilize politically.” They add that it will only become a “conspicuous threat” when patients begin being discharged from hospitals without adequate home-care support, resulting in unmanageable numbers of readmissions.
February 4: There’s no end in sight for approximately 260 striking CCAC employees serving Waterloo Region and Wellington County (Waterloo Region Record, February 4, 2015). Waterloo Wellington CCAC CEO Dale Clement says that 193 staff members not represented by the ONA are continuing to provide services but she adds that care coordinators play “a valuable role.” “We would be eager to have them back to work.”
February 4: The CEO of the North East CCAC has come under fire from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) for accepting a 16-per-cent pay increase in 2013 while nurses and other health professionals were under a two-year wage freeze (The North Bay Nugget, February 4, 2015). OPSEU is lending its support to the 3,000 ONA members currently on strike from nine CCACs across the province. According to the Ontario Sunshine List, CEO Richard Joly’s pay jumped from $248,000 in 2012 to $288,000 in 2013.
February 4: The CEO of the South West CCAC says that the ongoing strike by workers represented by the ONA has not had a negative effect on patients (The Owen Sound Sun Times, February 4, 2015). "This is Day 5 and certainly as of the first four days through the strike we have been able to continue to put care plans in place from all the referrals coming from hospitals as well as from the community," says Sandra Coleman. “All of the placements into long-term care homes and residential hospices have continued without any kind of interruption or disruption." ONA issued a media release on Monday which accused South West CCAC management of using accounting and human resources staff to assess patients’ wounds as part of their “contingency plan.” Coleman says that all care to patients is being provided by “the appropriate people.”
February 4: Sixteen Central East CCAC workers picketed outside Northumberland Hills Hospital on Tuesday (NorthumberlandToday.com, February 4, 2015). The ONA members who work out of the Port Hope branch of the CCAC plan to continue picketing at the hospital on Wednesday.
February 3: Striking North East CCAC workers braved freezing temperatures on their first day picketing in Wawa (Wawa-news.com, February 3, 2015). While CCAC health professionals have endured a two-year wage freeze, North East CCAC CEO Richard Joly received an increase of 16 per cent in 2013 and has been absent during this “crisis in home care.”
January 30: North West CCAC CEO Tuija Puiras says that management and non-union staff are working to fill the void left by 130 members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) who went on strike Friday (CBC News, January 30, 2015). Puiras says this is one of the contingency plans in place to help keep things running throughout the strike. But striking care coordinators are skeptical about management’s backup plan. "I think we do an excellent job caring for our clients and I don't know if that can be, if the contingency plan can meet the needs," says Bonnie White, a Thunder Bay care coordinator who was on the picket line Friday.
January 31: CJBK Radio London reports that almost 3,000 CCAC workers are on strike (January 31, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members are seeking very small wage increases like the other 57,000 ONA members received in the other sectors. Members have had a two-year wage freeze in their last contract.
January 31: CCAC workers across Ontario are on strike (CFZM AM, January 31, 2015). The RNs, NPs, RPNs and other health professionals work for the province’s CCACs. The Ontario Nurses’ Association is seeking wage increases equal to the percentages given to the other 57,000 nurses in hospitals, long-term care and public health in this province.
January 31: Hamiltonians are breathing a sigh of relief as CCAC workers in the area have voted in favour of a new deal (CHML AM Hamilton, January 31, 2015). Almost 3,000 other Ontario Nurses’ Association members have gone on strike.
January 31: CCAC workers in Hamilton, Niagara Brant and Haldimand County are still on the job (CHCH TV, January 31, 2015). While hundreds of other Ontario Nurses’ Association members in the province are on the picket lines, local members have reached a new deal.
January 31: Almost 3,000 CCAC workers are on strike (CKGL AM News, CFMZ FM, January 31, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members are seeking wage increases on par with those that other Ontario nurses were given.
January 31: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the strike by 3,000 CCAC workers is “about fairness” (CP24, January 31, 2015). She notes that 57,000 other ONA members in hospitals, long-term care and public health have received a “small, nominal wage increase.” CCAC management has “refused to step up to the plate” and provide CCAC ONA members with that same increase. The workers had a two-year wage freeze in their last contract.
January 30: Three thousand CCAC workers are on strike across the province (CFTO TV News, January 30, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members say they are seeking wage increases equal to what has been received by ONA members in hospitals, public health and long-term care.
January 30: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says its home care workers at CCACs are on strike (CFTR, January 30, 2015). The ONA members say they’ve been working to get a new contract since last March with no luck.
January 30: Global TV reports that thousands of Ontario CCAC workers have walked off the job (January 30, 2015). After two years of wage freezes, they say they’re due for a pay hike. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the nurses and health professionals are “on strike for fairness.” She adds that the employers have the money to pay for the 1.4 per cent increases they are seeking. ONA points out that the CEOs of the CCACs have enjoyed consistent pay increases with more than one making more than $300,000 yearly. “We are essential for our patients and our patients know that,” says Haslam-Stroud. The workers have been without a contract since March 2014.
January 31: ONA members are on strike (Zoomer Radio, January 31, 2015). The CCAC workers say wages are the main sticking point. The strike affects much of Ontario. Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he hopes that the parties can come to an agreement.
February 1: ONA members are continuing their job action today (CityNews Toronto, February 1, 2015). The workers were picketing outside North York General Hospital, and their union says it’s been fighting for wage increases on par with other members of the association working in hospitals and public health.
February 3: An ONA strike of CCAC workers is “causing little disruption at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance” (Chatham Daily News, February 3, 2015). Chief nursing executive Willi Kirenko says the hospital hasn’t seen disruption. A senior staff member at a Windsor hospital said last week that the strike “complicates things.” Normally, CCAC care coordinators are stationed inside the hospital to ensure patient care after someone is discharged. The management team from the CCAC has picked up this duty.
February 2: The CCAC in St. Thomas has closed and is uninhabited as employees have been relocated to London (St. Thomas-Elgin Weekly News, February 2, 2015). During the ONA strike, all employees will remain in London. Non-union staff who are regulated health professionals will coordinate care during the strike, the CCAC says.
February 3: Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins says that the fiscal reality is that “we have some difficult choices to make,” (Toronto Star, February 3, 2015). He was reacting to questions about the 3,000 home and community care workers on the picket lines since last Friday over wages. Hoskins, in what was supposed to be a major speech on home and community care, provided “little information on how the goals” he stated would be accomplished.
February 2: Nurses and health professionals who help prepare patients to leave hospital in Scarborough and North York are now on strike (Scarborough Mirror, February 2, 2015). The strike by Ontario Nurses’ Association members may mean delays in releasing patients, particularly elderly ones, who may have to go to nursing homes. ONA Vice-President Andy Summers says that nearly 3,000 nurses across Ontario were forced into a strike because their employer was refusing to raise wages in the next contract. “They have just reached the end,” said Summers. The CCAC workers want the same percentage increase – 1.4 – awarded to other nurses represented by ONA.
February 3: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that it’s possible that there could be a backup of patients in local hospitals as more than 250 CCAC workers are on strike in Waterloo Wellington (Guelph Mercury, February 3, 2015). They are some of the 3,000 ONA members striking to obtain a 1.4 per cent increase, or what other nurses across the province in other sectors received. “It’s about respect and it’s about unpaid overtime,” said Kim Carere of ONA. She adds that the nurses do not want to see a backup in home care and would like to be back on the job.
February 3: Dozens of health care workers braved the bitter cold to walk the picket lines in Sault Ste. Marie (Sault Star, February 3, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association members working for the CCACs have been on strike since Friday. ONA is fighting for a 1.4 per cent wage increase over two years after a two-year wage freeze in the last contract. ONA member Shelli Fielding Levac says the nurses are fighting for pay equity with CCAC staff in southern Ontario. “We were forced into this strike,” she said. “We didn’t want to go on strike, we really care about our patients.” Levac said that she hopes the employer contacts ONA soon. It’s “up to them, but we’re very ready to go back to the table.”
February 3: OPSEU has taken aim at the North East CCAC CEO for taking a 16-per-cent raise in 2013 while freezing the wages of nurses and other health professionals working for the CCACs (Sudbury Star, February 3, 2015). OPSEU is supporting the 3,000 nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other health professionals who are now on strike. ONA members who have been without a new contract since March 2014 and had a two-year wage freeze in the last contract. Diana Kutchaw, an ONA Labour Relations Officer, says no new talks are scheduled “but we are ready to go back to the table at any time.” Bargaining Unit President Louise McNeil says that “it is highly unusual” for nurses to be striking. “Leaving their patients is the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do. We are hoping [the strike] won’t be long.” She adds that when hospital ERs back up and they’re forced to cancel services, “there may be some pressure come to bear from the other [parts of the] health care system.”
February 2: CCAC workers in Woodstock and across the province are on the picket lines (Woodstock Sentinel-Review, February 2, 2015). The Oxford CCAC office in Woodstock “was locked up tight, with a note on the door informing patients of a temporary closure thanks to the strike.” South West CCAC CEO Sandra Coleman says the “other nurses in the province are an essential service, they’re not a right-to-strike unit, and we are the only right-to-strike unit, which is kind of amazing that we’re not deemed essential as well. The bottom line is we’ve had enough.” The Ontario Nurses’ Association, which represents the 3,000 CCAC workers on the picket lines, has been trying to negotiate a new contract since the last one expired in March 2014. Karen Peat, a Care Coordinator at the Oxford CCAC, says “we just want enough of us to do the job well.” She adds that the increase nurses are seeking “is a reasonable, negotiated wage increase. We’re asking no different than what ONA has been able to negotiate across the province in long-term care as well as hospitals.” She says that as more patients rely on home care, stress has been piling up on the community care provider.
February 2: Northumberland MPP Lou Rinaldi says he hopes the CCACs across Ontario will settle a strike (NorthumberlandToday.com, February 2, 2015). Rinaldi says that patients continue to receive care and contingency plans are in place. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says the bargaining units have been seeking a small wage increase equal to the percentage increase received by the union’s 57,000 other nurses.
January 30: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is expressing serious concern after Bluewater Health announced it is cutting 39 RN positions (CBC Radio 1 London, January 30, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says it’s “gut-wrenching” to be again told that nurses must be cut to balance the budget. She says that cuts in Sarnia will have a tremendously negative impact on the quality of patient care and increase the risk of patients suffering complications and death.
January 31: Hamiltonians are breathing a sigh of relief this morning as the nurses with the CCAC have voted to accept a new contract (CHML Radio Hamilton, January 31, 2015). Almost 3,000 other CCAC workers are on strike across the province.
January 31: ONA says almost 3,000 CCAC workers are on strike today, but not in Hamilton (CHML Hamilton, January 31, 2015). The union says that nine of 10 bargaining units voted to strike, but those in Hamilton have voted to accept a new offer and are on the job.
January 30: Nurses working for the region’s CCACs could be off the job this morning (Rogers Radio Kitchener, January 30, 2015). After mediation talks broke down, 268 ONA members took a strike vote.
January 30: CCAC employees are on strike after an agreement could not be reached (CP24, January 30, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association represents the employees, who are looking for a similar pay increase to that given by care workers in hospitals and long-term care.
February 1: Premier Kathleen Wynne faced health care questions in Sudbury, where she was campaigning with local candidate Glenn Thibeault ahead of the February 5 byelection (Sudbury Northern Life, February 1, 2015). When asked about the CCAC strike of ONA members, Wynne defended the Liberal’s record on health care. “We have increased the number of nurses across this province by more than 20,000 and we will continue to make sure that the services and personnel that are needed in our communities are there,” she said.
February 2: Talks have stalled between CCACs and about 3,000 workers, who went on strike last Friday (Toronto Sun, February 2, 2015). Both sides say they are ready to return to bargaining, but there were no plans to do so on Sunday. ONA is seeking a 1.4 per cent wage increase for its striking members. The last contract, which expired March 31, 2014, froze wages. ONA Vice-President Andy Summers said “we truthfully believe that our nurses who have taken pay freezes over the past two years and have tried to negotiate over the last year have had a recommendation from the CCAC to take more pay freezes and that isn’t something we can talk about.” He said the employer has offered a deal that “you get a couple hundred bucks cash, depending on the wage scale you’re on and then in the last year they are offering some wage increases.”
January 31: The “log jam” for acute beds at Bluewater Health is easing after an “extremely busy” January where patients who should have been moved out of the hospital and into long-term care were blocked by respiratory virus outbreaks at several Lambton County nursing homes (The Sarnia Observer, January 31, 2015). But Erie St. Clair CCAC CEO Lori Marshall warns that an ongoing strike by CCAC workers who coordinate homecare and nursing home care for patients could “swell” the number of alternate level of care (ALC) patients taking up space in hospitals.
January 31: Officials at South Bruce Grey Health Centre have made masks mandatory for any staff members who did not receive the flu shot this year (The Owen Sound Sun Times, January 31, 2015). Hospital CEO and President Paul Rosebush says that the policy is a response to lackluster vaccination rates among employees. This year fewer than 40 per cent of staff reported receiving the flu shot by December, down from 60 per cent last year. Rosebush says the policy has led to one union grievance being filed, and that they are waiting on the result of a similar grievance at a northwestern Ontario hospital which will be decided this summer. “If that arbitration finds in favour of hospitals, that it's OK to have these policies, we'll make this a permanent policy next year," he adds.
January 31: Hamilton-area patients are “relieved” that ONA members at the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant CCAC voted to “go against their union’s advice” and accept the contract presented by their employer (Hamilton Spectator, January 31, 2015.)Workers at nine other CCACs rejected the contract and took to picket lines around the province on Friday. "The members have spoken there,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “They want to accept that contract and I absolutely respect that and ONA supports them."
January 31: ONA members at the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant CCAC voted to ratify the latest contract offer from their employer, making them the only one of 10 CCACs not heading to the picket lines (The Brantford Expositor, January 31, 2015.)
January 30: About 200 Barrie-area nurses are included in the almost 3,000 CCAC workers on strike across the province (Barrie Advance, January 30, 2015.)
January 31: A strike involving almost 3,000 community health workers at 9 of the province’s CCACs will affect most areas of Ontario except for Ottawa, central Toronto and communities just west of Toronto including Mississauga and Halton Region (The Globe and Mail, January 31, 2015). Health Minister Eric Hoskins hopes that parties can come to an agreement and points to increased provincial funding for CCACs which includes an additional $270-million for home care.
January 31: Members of ONA Local 67, who are part of the almost 3,000 CCAC workers currently on strike across the province, worry that their absence will “clog patient transfers out of area hospitals” and hurt the level of service provided to patients who are most in need (Brockville Recorder and Times, January 31, 2015).
January 30: A disagreement over salary is at the heart of failed contract negotiations between 9 CCACs and the union representing almost 3,000 workers (Huntsville Forester, January 30, 2015.) “We have had a wage freeze for several years," says transitional care coordinator Tamara Smith, the ONA bargaining unit president for Local 017 representing workers at the North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC. "We haven't even had a cost of living increase in many years." Smith says that striking workers want a 1.4 increase for two years, not the lump sum being offered by the employer. "They are trying to tell us a lump sum is equivalent to that, but it's not. It doesn't help us get our pensions and it doesn't help us in the long run."
January 30: A statement from Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Orillia says it “respects the collective bargaining process and the rights” of striking ONA members (Orillia Today, January 30, 2015.) The hospital advises the community that it may be a picketing site for ONA members but that hospital services will not be affected. While there may be delays accessing the hospital’s main visitor parking lot but picketers “should not impeded access to the property.”
January 31: More than 212 ONA members employed by the South East CCAC walked off the job Friday, vowing to stay on strike until their employer brings a new offer to the bargaining table (The Belleville Intelligencer, January 31, 2015.) Wages have been a “roadblock” for workers. "We're not looking for parity with the hospitals or nothing like that,” says Mark Miller at ONA’s regional office. “The last collective agreement we accepted a wage freeze and this time we're not and that's essentially it."
January 30: The ONA, the union representing almost 3,000 striking CCAC workers, warns that the strike could cause hospital backlogs as CCAC care coordinators are responsible for transitioning patients out of hospital beds and either back into their own homes or into long-term care facilities (CBC News, January 30, 2015.)
January 31: ONA members braved the cold on Friday in rotating shifts to picket outside the South East CCAC office in Kingston’s City Place (The Kingston Whig-Standard, January 31, 2015). Bargaining unit president Lisa Turner says that the public response has been “overwhelmingly positive” for the striking care coordinators. She adds that, contrary to previous reports, ONA members do not make more than $100,000. "Actually, that is not our care coordinators, the ones that you're seeing out on strike today." She says that people making six figures are management-level employees. "The top salary for care coordinator is considerably less than that, with the top salary being at $76,000."
January 30: North West CCAC CEO Tuija Puiras warns that a strike of approximately 3,000 CCAC workers across the province could affect 130 community care coordinators in the North West LHIN catchment area (Daily Miner & News, January 30, 2015.) "Most are located in Thunder Bay and the rest are in communities across the Northwest district."
January 31: The CEO of Windsor Regional warns that a strike by CCAC care coordinators will push the hospital into “unknown territory” potentially stranding patients in wards and backing up emergency wards (London Free Press, January 31, 2015.) "Extra minutes turn into extra hours, hours turn into half-days. It starts to add up,” says David Musyj. The strike is the first of its kind since the provincial government began shifting health-care funding away from hospitals and into home care. South West CCAC spokesperson Andria Appeldoorn warns that there may be delays when responding to patients with less urgent needs and adds that non-union staff “have been trained to support patient services” during the strike.
January 31: Almost 3,000 nurses and other health-care workers at 9 Ontario CCACs went on strike Friday (Toronto Sun, January 31, 2015). ONA, the union representing the workers, says that it requested a “very small” wage increase for members who have been under a two-year wage freeze as part of their last contract which expired March 31, 2014.
January 30: Striking North East CCAC workers picketed near the Parry Sound Mall on Friday (Parry Sound North Star, January 30, 2015).
January 30: Cambridge and North Dumfries MPP Kathryn McGarry, a former nurse and CCAC care coordinator, hopes that the labour dispute which has seen almost 3,000 union members walk off the job will be resolved soon (Cambridge Times, January 30, 2015). "As a nurse and former CCAC care co-ordinator, I obviously respect the work done by our nurses and health care professionals…I am hopeful that the CCAC and ONA can come to an agreement as soon as possible so they continue to provide excellent care for so many patients and families in Cambridge."
January 30: Hundreds of home healthcare workers across London walked off the job Friday as Ontario Nurses’ Association members at 9 Ontario CCACs voted to reject their employers’ latest contract offer (London Community News, January 30, 2015).
January 31: Nearly 3,000 home and community health-care workers at Ontario CCACs hit the picket lines Friday leaving “non-ONA union employees, CEOs and administrators” to fill the void (Toronto Star, January 31, 2015.) At the Central CCAC nearly 700 workers are on strike leaving just under 200 workers, only 36 of whom are regulated care professionals, to take over. Central CCAC CEO Jo-anne Marr says she has spent “the bulk of my time on the phone with patients and our care partners to make sure that referrals are getting processed."
January 30: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud joined dozens of nurses braving the cold weather on the picket line outside Southlake Regional Health Centre on Friday (Newmarket Era, January 30, 2015). Almost 3,000 nurses and other health-care workers at CCACs across Ontario are on strike including about 665 from the Central CCAC which serves York Region. "They're on strike for fairness," says Haslam-Stroud.
January 31: About 260 community health workers in the Waterloo Region and Wellington County went on strike Friday (Waterloo Region Record, January 31, 2015). They have been without a contract since March 31, 2014 and their last contract included a two-year wage freeze. ONA regional vice-president Karen Bertrand says that at the same time, CEOs have seen “huge increases.” “We definitely are feeling undervalued and not appreciated at all."
January 31: Despite frigid winds dozens of nurses walked the picket lines in Barrie on Friday after talks between ONA and CCACs broke down Thursday (The Orillia Packet and Times, January 31, 2015). Registered nurses on strike from the North Simcoe Muskoka CCAC say that large case loads and increasing complexity of care can put client - and worker - health at risk.
January 31: ONA members at the Erie St. Clair CCAC who walked off the job Friday are “tired of taking their lumps” says Local 35 bargaining unit vice-president Cathy Bourque (The Chatham Daily News, January 31, 2015). Bourque says that the union is prepared to return to the bargaining table but that workers will not accept lump sum increases as they have in past collective agreements. “We know that affects our wages and pensions."
January 31: While 50-60 Sarnia care coordinators are on strike, “non-union staff” who have be “trained to triage cases based on patient need” will step in, says Lori Marshall, CEO of the Erie St. Clair CCAC (The Sarnia Observer, January 31, 2015).
January 31: ONA members on strike from the Central East CCAC in Peterborough were picketing outside the Peterborough Regional Health Centre on Friday (The Peterborough Examiner, January 31, 2015). The Peterborough CCAC office remains open but the CCAC warns that clients may experience delays in service during the strike and will be prioritized based on needs.
January 31: Thirty-seven ONA members are on strike in Timmins, demanding better wages and wage parity with hospital nurses (The Timmins Daily Press, January 31, 2015).
January 30: Striking nurses who coordinate home-care services across Ontario were “shocked” when their request for “a reasonable 1.4 per cent pay increase” for each of the next two years was rejected by their employer (windsorstar.com, January 30, 2015). "We know we are vital to the health care system, but obviously our employer doesn't value us the same way," said Cathy Bourque, who was on the picket line Friday morning. "For the wages we're asking for, there's no way - if you value these services - that you would allow it to come to this level." Bourque is one of about 260 nurses on strike from the Erie St. Clair CCAC.
January 31: Nearly 60 ONA members employed by the North East CCAC in North Bay were on the picket line Friday morning looking for equal pay - and respect - to their colleagues in hospitals, public health and long-term care (The North Bay Nugget, January 31, 2015). The North East CCAC has advised that new patients may experience delays because of the strike and that those with urgent needs will be the priority.
January 31: Sixty-five health professionals in Grey Bruce who work for the South West CCAC are on strike after voting to reject their employers’ latest contract offer (The Owen Sound Sun Times, January 31, 2015). "This isn't just about wages. This is about seeking respect and dignity from our employer," says Kathy Weir, a registered nurse and CCAC care coordinator.
January 31: Almost 300 registered nurses (RNs) and other health-care professionals employed by the North East CCAC, including 90 working in Sudbury, walked off the job Friday after rejecting a contract offer Thursday night (The Sudbury Star, January 31, 2015). Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association “picketed in the bitter cold” on Friday outside of CCAC headquarters and on Paris Street near the entrance to Health Sciences North. Strikers in the North East and North West CCACs earn the lowest salaries in Ontario; ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna reports that ONA members in Northern Ontario earn as much as $6 or $7 less than those elsewhere in the province.
January 30: CCAC workers are on strike in Guelph (Guelph Mercury, January 30, 2015). The Waterloo Wellington CCAC says it will continue to provide services while the ONA members are on the picket lines. ONA says it is seeking wage increases equal to the percentages given to the other 57,000 members in hospitals, long-term care and public health.
January 30: Almost 3,000 CCAC workers are on strike today (Canada.com, January 30, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association says nine of 10 bargaining units voted to strike and workers are seeking wage increases equal to the percentages given to the other 57,000 members of ONA who work in hospitals, long-term care and public health.
January 30: The Chatham Daily News (January 30, 2015) reports that 39 Bluewater Health nurses will lose their jobs as the hospital tries to balance its books. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says “it’s gut-wrenching” to see RN cuts to balance a budget.
January 30: Disruptions may occur if CCAC workers hit the picket lines this morning (Kingston Whig-Standard, January 30, 2015). The South East CCAC says its contracted nursing services will continue for the 13,500 clients it serves daily. ONA Regional Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that results of the vote won’t be available until midnight Thursday.
January 30: Ontario’s home care workers are expected to go on strike (Hamilton Spectator, January 30, 2015). The fact that workers are expected to take more wage freezes as CEO salaries in Ontario’s CCACs have risen by as much as 27 per cent is an issue. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that the CCAC health professionals have the right to strike.
January 30: CCAC workers from Windsor and Essex went on strike this morning (windsorstar.com, January 30, 2015). ONA says it has been “rebuffed” in its attempt to secure small wage increases similar to those given to other nurses in other sectors. “Shame on these employers for putting RNs, health care professionals and our patients at risk by forcing us to withdraw our care.”
January 30: ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says, “it’s gut-wrenching for us as registered nurses to again be told that our care must be cut to balance budgets” (Sarnia Observer, January 30, 2015). She was reacting to the news that 39 RNs will be cut from Bluewater Health. “We know that these cuts have a tremendously negative impact on the quality of patient care, and increase the risks our patients have of suffering from a higher risk of complications and even death.” CEO Sue Denomy says the cuts will include clinical staff, lab workers, diagnostic imaging, housekeeping, RNs and RPNs.
January 29: Approximately 3,500 CCAC workers could be on the picket lines Friday morning (Windsorie.ca, January 29, 2015). ONA leaders are recommending that members reject the employer’s final offer.
January 30: CCAC health care professionals in Ontario are on strike today (Toronto Star, January 30, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the CCACs are forcing workers onto the picket lines due to a very lowball offer. “They refused to negotiate any monetary issues at any of the tables,” she said. Instead, they asked workers to accept a wage freeze. Dianne Leclair is a CCAC care coordinator and says that without her, patients will leave hospital without a care plan. “These are the people who will end up coming back to the [ER].” Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he hopes they can come up with a resolution soon. Haslam-Stroud says the auditor should look at the “high-priced CEO salaries – that money could be put forward for front-line care.” She says a strike is “very, very disheartening for our members. We don’t want to be out on strike, we want to be out there caring for our patients, but these employers have left us no other choice.”
January 30: Almost 3000 health care workers went on strike Friday morning at nine CCACs (Toronto Star, January 30, 2015). The CCACs will remain open to patients, according to a statement released today. ONA bargaining units are seeking the same percentage increase given to unionized hospitals, public health and long-term care in Ontario. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said, “shame on these employers for putting RNs, Health Care Professionals and our patients at risk by forcing us to withdraw our care.” She adds that the role of CCAC members must be respected, and that CCAC CEOs can’t “give themselves a large salary increase and then unfairly compensate the highly skilled, invaluable front-line workers who provide care.”
January 30: About 3,000 ONA members walked off the job today in a move that ONA says will result in overcrowded hospitals (CBC News, January 30, 2015). Nine of 10 bargaining units in the province have voted to strike. Vicki McKenna, ONA First Vice-President, says that local hospitals may be severely affected. Waterloo Wellington CCAC’s CEO says that a contingency plan is in place that relies on non-unionized workers.
January 29: ONA members are holding a critical strike vote tonight (CJQM FM Sault Ste. Marie, January 29, 2015). They will be in a strike position at midnight, including in the Sault.
January 29: Local hospitals may have an overcrowding problem if some members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association walk off the job tomorrow morning (CBC Radio Windsor, January 29, 2015). Vicki McKenna of ONA says care coordinators ensure patients have safe returns home from hospital. Results of the strike votes won’t be known tonight.
January 29: CCAC professionals in the province may be on strike tomorrow (CHOK AM Sarnia, January 29, 2015). The ONA members say employers have walked away from mediation. The last contract expired in March 2014.
January 30: ONA says almost 3,000 community health workers are on strike today (Canadian Press, January 30, 2015). Nine of 10 bargaining units have hit the picket lines. The union says that members in the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant CCAC have ratified the new deal. ONA says it is seeking wage increases equal to the percentages given to the other 57,000 members in hospitals, public health, and long-term care. CCAC workers had a two-year wage freeze in their last contract, which expired in March 2014. ONA Preisent Linda Haslam-Stroud says the strike is about “dignity and respect, and also sends an important message that these CCAC CEOs can’t give themselves a large salary increase and unfairly compensate the highly skilled, invaluable front-line workers.”
January 29: ONA members are having a crucial vote tonight (CJQM FM, Sault Ste. Marie, January 29, 2015). The CCAC workers will consider a contract offer and may vote to strike as early as tomorrow.
January 29: Hospitals could experience overcrowding if some members of the ONA go on strike at midnight (CBC London, January 29, 2015). Vicki McKenna, First Vice-President of ONA, says CCAC Health Professionals already have more patients than beds. Care coordinators are the ones responsible in most all cases to ensure these patients can go home and have care in their homes.
January 29: CCAC workers could be on the picket lines tomorrow (CHOK AM Sarnia, January 29, 2015). ONA says the employer has walked away from mediation; there are 10 Locals involved, including the Erie St. Clair CCAC.
January 30: ONA says almost 3,000 CCAC workers are on strike today (Canadian Press, January 30, 2015). Nine of 10 bargaining units have voted to strike, impacting most of Ontario except for the Ottawa, central Toronto and a few other areas near Toronto. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says workers provide important care for patients in their homes, schools and other community facilities. “This strike is about dignity and respect and sends an important message that these CCAC CEOs can’t give themselves a large salary increase and then unfairly compensate these highly skilled, invaluable front-line workers who provide care.”
January 29: Employees at 10 CCACs could be on strike tomorrow (CHOK FM, January 29, 2015). Vicki McKenna of the Ontario Nurses’ Association says that the monetary requests of members are very small. The workers have not kept up with inflation and aren’t “asking for the moon.”
January 29: ONA says that members working for CCACs may be forced to take strike action as early as tomorrow (CBC Radio 1, January 29, 2015). Nurses at the North West CCAC will take a strike vote tonight.
January 29: London’s Victoria Hospital has scrapped day passes and slashed visiting hours to “stem the flow of illegal drugs into a psychiatric ward already in crisis from crowding and violence” (London Free Press, January 29, 2015). During the past three years, London Health Sciences Centre has cut 150,000 hours of registered nursing care and the shortage that resulted has reached a critical stage, says ONA Bargaining Unit President James Murray. “It’s not uncommon for mental health patients to wait three or four days in the emergency department,” he told the Standing Committee on Finance at a London pre-budget hearing yesterday. Nurses have suffered significant injuries from violence in the psychiatric unit, with the number of reported incidents rising 20-fold last year. The Ministry of Health has told the CEO of LHSC to expect the same funding in the coming fiscal year that it received in the current one. Murray Glendining says “The future is not about more money in the system.”
January 29: Fewer nursing positions will be cut from Sault Area Hospital than first anticipated (Sault Star, January 29, 2015). ONA Local 46 president Glenda Hubley said that her collective agreement language served to avert some job losses. She says that “some positions have to be eliminated first, before you can touch unit nurses…when I brought that to their attention, they realized they couldn’t do what they wanted to do.” Still, four full-time patient care coordinators will be cut, as well as two full-time oncology nurse navigators and one part-time infection control nurse. In addition to the RN cuts, PSWs and RPNs will be cut. Hubley is calling on local MPP David Orazietti to “up the ante. If he’s so committed [to healthcare], why is he making hospitals do without?” North Bay and Sudbury hospitals have also seen RN cuts.
January 29: Workers at 10 of the province’s CCACs could be on strike tomorrow (Peterborough Examiner, January 29, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association represents about 3,500 of these workers province-wide. Some or all of the ONA members may vote to strike and the timeline is unknown. The workers include RNs, NPs, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. They provide some hands-on care and also assess patients and prepare care plans for them.
January 28: CCAC nurses and health team members could go on strike this Friday, affecting home care services and admission into long-term care facilities (Stratford Beacon Herald, January 28, 2015). That could create a backload at hospitals, as patients who should go home remain in hospital. The workers have been without a contract since March 31, 2014. The Ontario Nurses’ Association represents about 3,500 staff.
January 29: Most Community Care Access Centres could have staff on strike as early as Friday (Belleville Intelligencer, January 29, 2015). The centres oversee home care and other health-related services in Ontario. ONA represents about 3,500 workers at 10 of Ontario’s 14 CCACs; in 2011, an eleventh-hour deal averted a strike, but that contract expired March 31, 2014. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says there is no firm timeline for a strike as yet. McKenna says that it’s “news” to her that the employer will come back to the table. “The offer that they gave us that Monday is not one that any of the 10 bargaining teams is anywhere near ready to bring to their membership,” she said. “We have no alternative now but to take their last offer to our membership for a vote.” She added that no one wants to be on a picket line.
January 27: Hundreds of London health care workers could be off the job in several days (CFPL London, January 27, 2015). Care Coordinators could hit the picket lines if a new agreement isn’t reached by midnight Thursday. The Ontario Nurses’ Association, which represents the workers, says they have been without a contract since March 31, 2015.
January 27: Even though it was the province that walked away from the table more than a week ago, officials with the South West CCAC say they are optimistic a deal can still be reached with the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s Care Coordinators (CFPL London, January 27, 2015). The ONA warns that a strike could impact London’s already-long wait lists. Close to 3,500 Care Coordinators could be off the job this Friday.
January 27: Wait times in hospitals could be longer than ever if a potential nurses’ strike goes ahead (CJBK, January 27, 2014). Community care coordinators could be locked out or on strike after midnight Thursday. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that patients may end up being sent to ERs, and those in hospitals may not be able to be discharged.
January 27: CBC Radio 1 reports that the clock is ticking toward a Friday strike deadline at CCACs across the province (January 27, 2015). Care coordinators are set to walk off the job if a new agreement hasn’t been reached. The Ontario Nurses’ Association is seeking a reduction in growing workloads and wage hikes. Officials with the CCACs say they are optimistic that an agreement can be reached.
January 27: Ontario Nurses’ Association members working at the province’s CCACs could be locked out or on strike at midnight Thursday (CJBK AM London, January 27, 2015). Wait times could be made longer if a potential nurses’ strike goes ahead. The issues are workload and pay. The South West CCAC still says that it is optimistic that a deal can be reached.
January 28: Contingency plans are in place if health care providers with the Erie St. Clair CCAC are on strike on Friday (Windsor Star, January 28, 2015). The focus of the CCAC’s 260 Care Coordinators is to arrange services for patients being discharged from hospital, says the report. Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj says that if there is a strike, “it would create some difficulties for us. We rely heavily on the CCAC for the co-ordination of services for patients leaving the hospital for home.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says the last offer from the CCACs was a “lowball offer the CCACs are not going to accept.” She says members want a nominal increase of 1.4 per cent on the wage grid in each of the next two years. “It’s not an over-the-top request,” she said. The CCACs “need to pick up the phone and identify a respectable offer that values the work of the CCAC care coordinators,” she added.
January 28: Nurses who coordinate home care are poised to strike following a breakdown in contract negotiations (Simcoe Reformer, January 28, 2015). RNs and health team members at 10 CCACs have been without a contract since March 2014 and will take a strike vote tomorrow. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says she is hopeful that an agreement can still be reached. “The last thing they want to do is be on the picket line,” she said. “A strike would make it very, very difficult for clients to access service if they need help.”
January 28: Sault Ste. Marie and 10 other communities may soon be facing a strike by care coordinators at their local Community Care Access Centres (Sault Star, January 28, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that employers walked away from mediation talks on January 19. Care coordinators will hold a strike vote tomorrow. The Care Coordinators are a mix of RNs, NPs, social workers and occupational therapists who coordinate care for those who need assistance, as well as arrange long-term care placement and palliative care. A senior director of the CCAC said a strike would not interrupt care, but would impact its ability to take on new patients. Two key issues have been caseload distribution and wages. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that each case handled by the Care Coordinators can vary according to the patient’s needs. In addition, wages in this sector are not keeping pace with wages of other health care providers. McKenna says that the “last place that our Care Coordinators want to be is on a picket line. They want to be at work, they do this work because they love it, but they have been falling further and further and further behind their counterparts, and it is time for them. They’re not asking for the moon here.”
January 27: Nurses, social workers and therapists who coordinate home care and place patients in nursing homes don’t want to strike, but they have no choice in the face of an agency that has walked away from the bargaining table, says the Ontario Nurses’ Association (London Free Press, January 27, 2015). Starting Friday, the nurses may be on strike in London. This could leave nearly 3,500 on the picket lines at 10 of 14 Ontario CCACs. In Southwest Ontario, 450 may strike or be locked out. A spokesperson for the Southwest CCAC said that there are many “CCAC staff not represented by ONA who will continue to work during any ONA strike.” Vicki McKenna, the nurses’ union’s First Vice-President, says that the impact on patients will be acute. “Imagine if people can’t be discharged from hospital,” she said. “The hospitals should be concerned.” The nurses say that, increasingly, they are having to manage a growing number of extremely ill patients and that their workload has placed patients at risk. The CCAC continues to say it is “optimistic” that a deal will be reached. McKenna responded by saying, “Then I guess they should pick up the phone.”
January 23: Sudbury nurses are bracing for possible cuts (CBC News, January 23, 2015). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that the “reality is that any registered nurse position lost is a loss of almost 2,000 hours of registered nursing care in that organization. Patients do better, they stay in hospital less time, they have fewer complications when registered nurses are at their bedside.” The hospital says that no cuts have been finalized to date; it is looking for ways to avoid layoffs.
January 22: CCACs across Ontario, including Waterloo Wellington, say they are optimistic that a settlement can be reached with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (CJOYJ AM, January 22, 2015). ONA represents employees, primary care coordinators and nurses at 10 Ontario CCACs. Mediated talks stalled last weekend. The Waterloo Wellington CCAC has 264 care coordinators serving more than 15,000 patients a day.
January 22: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that cutting 13 full-time RNs and one part-time RN will hurt patient care at Sault Area Hospital (CBC Sudbury, January 22, 2015). Patients receiving care in the OR, ICU, oncology and surgical units will be impacted. ONA also says that an infection control nurse is being cut at a time when influenza and other infectious diseases are high on the radar.
January 22: CTV News Sudbury (January 22, 2015) reports the Ontario Nurses’ Association says there will be job cuts at Sudbury’s hospital. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that up to 34 RNs could be cut, and “whether it’s one position or 34 or 50, the reality is that every position lost at Sudbury or anywhere else, there’s a loss that’s just shy of 2,000 hours of registered nursing care that will not be delivered in that organization or in that unit or that floor.”
January 23: The St. Thomas Times-Journal (January 23, 2015) reports that the head of London Health Sciences Centre claims that overcrowding and violence in its psychiatric unit is a symptom of broader problems in the community. Murray Glendining says that “if there are failings in the system, they end up in hospitals.” He was responding to news that the Labour Ministry has issued five orders to reassess risks and review policies and procedures to combat violence at the organization. Glendining says the rising tide of patients won’t be stemmed until community partners get sufficient support and coordination to keep more people out of the hospital. The Ontario Nurses’ Association had this week accused the hospital and Labour Ministry of doing nothing while nurses were attacked more and more often. In 2013, there were 18 incidents of violence, and in 2014, there were 360.
January 24: London Health Sciences Centre must update safety-related policies and procedures that had been without review for as long as seven years, following an order from the Ontario Ministry of Labour (London Free Press, January 24, 2015). Investigators also found that the annual reviews had missed five straight years at the psychiatric ICU, and skipped for the hospital’s observational guidelines and reception desk in the psychiatric unit. The ministry has ordered that they must be completed by the end of the month of early February. The Ontario Nurses’ Association has accused the hospital and the Labour Ministry of sitting idle while attacks on nurses surged 20-fold last year, from 18 in 2013 to 360 in 2014.
January 24: Nurses who help coordinate home care are poised to strike (Brantford Expositor, January 24, 2015). RNs and health team members at 10 CCACs have been working without a contract since March 2014 and will take a strike vote on Jan. 29. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says she is hopeful that an agreement can be reached before the deadline. “The last thing they want to do is be on the picket line,” she said. “A strike would make it very, very difficult for clients to access service if they need help.” She says that ONA is ready to be back at the bargaining table at any time.
January 24: ONA is urging nurses employed by the northeast CCAC to vote against a contract offer this Thursday (North Bay Nugget, January 24, 2015). Vicki McKenna, ONA First Vice-President, says that the nurses will vote along with others across the province, each on a separate contract offer. Talks reached a stalemate following three days of mediation with a provincially appointed conciliator recently. ONA says the employer walked away from the table. McKenna says the contract offer the CCACs put forward “is a real dog’s breakfast,” with wages differing as much as $6 to $7 an hour, depending on the CCAC. She said the main issue is wages. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud points out that these are the same employers who have awarded themselves “salary increases that go far beyond anything they have offered to our union members.”
January 23: The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville will give non-unionized staff a 1.75 per cent wage increase this year as well as “some minor upgrades” to their benefits (Brockville Recorder and Times, January 23, 2015.) Preparations are underway for contract negotiations for unionized employees represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union whose contracts expired at the end of 2014.
January 22 and 23: ONA is sounding the alarm that as many as 34 full-time registered-nurse positions could be lost at Health Sciences North as the hospital attempts to balance its budget (CTV News Sudbury and The Sudbury Star, January 22-23, 2015.)Pam Mancuso, the Union’s Vice-President for Region 1 warns that positions in critical care, mental health, surgical and emergency departments are at risk, and that nursing hours in the hospital’s birthing centre and operating rooms will also be reduced.
January 22 and 23: ONA warns that cuts to registered-nurse positions at the Sault Area Hospital will hurt the quality of patient care(CBC Radio 1 Sudbury and The Sault Star, January 22-23, 2015.) The hospital has announced that 13 full-time and one part-time RN will be cut in an upcoming round of layoffs. ONA warns that the cuts will impact care in a number of units across the hospital including the hemodialysis unit, operating room and intensive care, oncology, and surgical units.
January 21: ONA is concerned for the fate of the Algoma Public Health Unit, and the community it serves, following the revelation that the health unit’s former chief financial officer had a criminal past (CTV News Sudbury, January 21, 2015.) The health unit has launched an external audit after learning that Shaun Rootenberg, who served as CFO for six months, pled guilty in 2009 to defrauding family and friends for more than $2.5 million. CTV News learned that Rootenberg and Algoma’s CEO Doctor Kim Barker had a romantic relationship while working together, something which has raised red flags with the union and the health unit’s board. “We're very concerned that the two lead people that were running the Algoma Health Unit seemed to have a relationship that we've been made aware of, and in fact there could have been decisions made that were not in the best interests of the Algoma Public Health and the community,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud.
January 23: If 250 community care workers represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association go on strike, the Waterloo-Wellington area could see a reduction in health-care services (The Wellington Advertiser, January 23, 2015.) Earlier this week negotiations between the union and 10 CCACs “broke down.” ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud explained that after three days of mediation the employer walked away from the table. “Their offer was despicable, frankly, and is not in keeping with the negotiations that have taken place in other sectors for our registered nurses across the province,” Haslam-Stroud said. “It is not reflective of the value that care coordinators provide to the community.” Barry Monaghan, the interim CEO of the Waterloo Wellington CCAC, says that he is optimistic an agreement can still be reached but adds that he doesn’t foresee a strike “causing massive service disruptions. “Most current patients would continue to receive service ... [but] new patients referred from the hospital or community may experience some delays.” But Haslam-Stroud is concerned about what will happen if union members are forced into a strike. “Your community is basically going to have all the community care coordination … cease…We’re very concerned hospitals are going to have to cancel surgeries because they’re not going to have the capacity to move the patients from the hospital back into the communities to receive care. We don’t want to be on any picket line. We want to be caring for them and we’re really, really disappointed that the employer has forced us into this position.”
January 22: ONA’s First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that wages are a main issue in collective agreement negotiations with 10 CCACs across the province (CFBG Moose FM, January 22, 2015.) Wages for care coordinators vary across the province. Those working at three Northern CCACs represented by ONA –North West, North East, and North Simcoe Muskoka- “are unfortunately the lowest paid in the province.” According to McKenna the Union’s goal -and a major sticking point for the employers- is to get all CCACs on the same wage scale.
January 21: Even though talks “stalled” over the weekend, CCAC representatives are still “optimistic” that negotiated collective agreements can be reached with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (CJOY AM, January 21, 2015.)
January 21: Negotiations between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and 10 Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) have reached a “stalemate” after three days of mediation (CBC Radio 1 London, CHML Morning News and 680 News, January 21, 2015.) ONA has said that strike votes will be held at the affected bargaining units in the coming weeks.
January 21: The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that Health Sciences North will be cutting RN staff (Sudbury Northern Life, January 21, 2015). Meanwhile, CUPE says that recent care cuts in North Bay will put a greater strain on Sudbury’s mental health services. Earlier this month, North Bay announced it would cut 55 full-time jobs and 20 part-time jobs. It will also close eight mental health beds.
January 21: A tweet from Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas “led to a clarification from the Ontario Nurses’ Association and now a statement from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (Sudbury Northern Life, January 21, 2015). Gelinas tweeted that Health Sciences North was expected to cut 34 jobs. The hospital did not deny the possibility of job cuts, but said it hadn’t yet decided how many. Word also came down that Sault Area Hospital is cutting 14 RN jobs. The media coverage prompted the health ministry to issue a statement promising that it will ensure access to quality health care.
January 22: Ontario’s Labour Ministry has ordered London’s biggest hospital to do more to combat violence and overcrowding that has left staff fearful for their safety and that of their patients (London Free Press, January 22, 2015). The “unusual move” was made Wednesday and hospital chief Murray Glendining wrote that London Health Sciences Centre will “implement the ministry’s orders and develop a plan that builds upon earlier safety measures already taken in the ward.” The Ministry of Labour ordered the hospital to assess risks and review some of its policies and procedures. The problems in the hospital’s psychiatric unit emerged when the volume of patients surged in March. In December, the hospital increased the number of nurses, and last week it scrapped day passes, severely restricted visitors and added security. The Ontario Nurses’ Association this week accused the hospital and Labour Ministry of sitting idle while attacks on nurses surged twenty-fold in a year.
January 22: Nurses and care coordinators with the Central East CCAC will be taking a strike vote after talks broke down with the CCAC and the Ontario Nurses’ Association (Peterborough Examiner, January 22, 2015). ONA is seeking the same salary increases it has negotiated for all of its other major sectors, including hospitals.
January 21: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is demanding immediate action to stop the violent attacks on nurses (Labour-reporter.com, January 21, 2015). The union reports that there has been a significant increase in the number of violent incidents – from 18 attacks in 2013 to 360 in 2014, and 36 in the first few weeks of 2015 alone. “This has left our nurses with head injuries and broken bones, yet the employer and the Ministry of Labour have yet to take action,” she said. She notes that the hospital has an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to report any incidents immediately, and the labour ministry has an obligation to investigate them. “Yet the employer has sometimes failed to do so, and the Ministry has been slow to send an inspector.”
January 21: ONA says that quality patient care will suffer as Sault Area Hospital cuts 13 full-time RN positions and one part-time RN (SooToday.com, January 21, 2015). ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that “once again, we are seeing hospital funding cuts impact those who provide hands-on care at the expense of our patients.” She also notes that while the hospital has cut RNs, “it has simultaneously created 16 new supervisor positions.” She says the cuts impact patients receiving care in Sault Area Hospital’s hemodialysis unit, operating room, intensive care unit, oncology and surgical unit. “In addition, an infection control nurse is being cut at a time when influenza, Ebola and other infectious diseases are high on our radar.” She notes that the cuts mean a loss to Sault residents of more than 45,000 hours of quality RN care per year. “I urge residents to speak to their MPPs, and write to the Health Minister to protest the loss of quality patient care,” she said.
January 21: NDP MPP France Gelinas told the media yesterday that nursing jobs would be cut in Sudbury (CBC News, January 21, 2015). The hospital says that no final decisions have been made, but Gelinas says the Ontario Nurses’ Association was told that 34 full-time equivalent jobs will be cut. She adds that the reduction in staff will impact the quality of patient care, and that cuts will come to the critical care unit, mental health units, surgical unit and the ER. Health Minister Eric Hoskins said that from time to time, “individual hospitals…make decisions based on where they think those investments will have the greatest impact on patient care and the services that we provide.”
January 21: ONA says it expects Health Sciences North to cut RN staff, but any numbers are still “up in the air” (Sudbury Northern Life, January 21, 2015). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that “there does certainly seem to be some discussion about loss of registered nursing positions at the hospital in various programs.” NDP health Critic France Gelinas told media Wednesday that the hospital would lay off 34 RNs. Hospital spokesperson Dan Lessard said the hospital’s budget process is ongoing.
January 22: The number of RNs who may be affected by Health Sciences North layoffs hasn’t been determined, but each job lost means 2,000 hours of care lost for Sudbury patients (Sudbury Star, January 22, 2015). At a hearing with the Standing Committee on Finance, a representative of the Ontario Nurses’ Association said that 34 nursing jobs would be cut at the hospital. ONA First Vice-president Vicki McKenna said that the number hasn’t yet been determined, and has heard the number 34 discussed. Still, she believes the plan that hospital administrators are working on will result in a “significant impact and loss of registered nursing hours of care.” Jobs have also been cut at Sault Area Hospital and North Bay Regional Health Centre. RNs at Health Sciences North “all know something’s going on,” said McKenna, “but they don’t know how they’re going to be affected.” She adds that the cuts are going on “right across the province, and Sudbury is no different, these hospitals are underfunded…We’re consistently seeing cuts and reductions on the backs of nurses, which is a loss of patient care.” Meanwhile, Health Minister Eric Hoskins was in the city as well and said the Liberals have increased funding to Health Sciences North by 26 per cent over the last five or six years. McKenna says it’s time for “lots of courage” out there – she calls on administrators and patients to say, “It’s like enough already…” She also calls on people to speak up and say this can’t go on.
January 21: A hospital budget funding freeze has led to a decline in care for patients in Northern Ontario, according to one delegate at a pre-budget consultation in Sudbury (Queen’s Park Briefing, January 21, 2015). Ontario Nurses’ Association representative Pam Mancuso spoke yesterday of three years of zero per cent increases on hospitals’ base operating funding as making it tough to be adequately staffed to meet patient care needs. She said hospitals are now being forced to adopt “short-sighted and risky measures to balance their budgets, including the elimination of RN positions, not replacing RN positions when they become vacant and substituting RN positions with less-qualified staffing.” NDP Health Critic France Gelinas said the submissions were dominated by healthcare concerns. She says that many of the presenters in Sudbury were there to speak about healthcare concerns, and they all said the same thing – “not keeping up with patient needs, not keeping up with existing or growing population, not keeping up with, basically, the demographics of the north where we have older, sicker people than other parts of Ontario.”
January 20: The latest round of mediation has failed for 10 CCACs (CKNX, January 20, 2015). The Ontario Nurses’ Association and the CCACs have reached a stalemate, and strike votes will be held in the CCACs in the upcoming weeks. Affected communities include those in the catchment area of the South West and Waterloo Wellington LHINs.
January 20: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is warning that care coordinators could be on strike later this month (CHOK AM, January 20, 2015). The workers, including registered nurses, could strike at 10 Community Care Access Centres.
January 20: Erie-St. Clair CCAC could be affected by a possible strike by the end of the month (CFCO, January 20, 2015). Talks have broken down between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the CCACs. ONA’s Vicki McKenna says that the equivalent workers in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and public health units all received increases of around 1.5 per cent.
January 20: The Erie-St. Clair CCAC could be dealing with strike action by the end of the month (CFCO AM, January 20, 2015). ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that mediation efforts broke down and the CCAC workers are “asking for small, incremental, what we believe to be normative wage increases” so that they can keep up with their counterparts. McKenna says that a lot of the home care services are contracted out, so they may not be immediately affected by a strike. Other services supplied directly by the CCAC would be put on hold.
January 21: Mental health patients are “finding themselves caught in a revolving door” according to union officials at a media conference (North Bay Nugget, January 21, 2015). CUPE and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions say there are few community resources and services for people coping with mental illness, and hospitals continue to close mental health beds. Earlier this month, North Bay Regional Health Centre announced the closure of eight mental health beds and 75 job cuts, the majority in nursing. The hospital has cut 22 vacant full-time positions; of the 22 full-time positions, 16 are Ontario Nurses’ Association members. Despite the provincial government’s insistence that there are no cuts to health care, their zero funding increase policy for hospitals is taking a toll, says Michael Hurley of OCHU.
January 21: CCACs across the province say they’re optimistic that they can reach a collective agreement with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (Broadcast News, January 21, 2015). ONA represents care coordinators and nurses at 10 of the province’s 14 CCACs. ONA says that strike votes will be held in the coming weeks.
January 21: The province’s nurses’ union has charged that London’s largest hospital and the Ministry of Labour sat idle while attacks on nurses escalated twenty-fold (London Free Press, January 21, 2015). Ontario Nurses’ Association President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “this has left our nurses with head injuries and broken bones, yet the employer and the Ministry of Labour have yet to take action.” Violence has grown so pervasive in the psychiatric ward of Victoria hospital that 35 nurses have been assaulted or threatened in a month, and emergency measures were triggered to try to regain safety for staff and patients. Haslam-Stroud says that violent attacks on nurses grew to 360 in 2014 from 18 in 2013. Hospital officials have not reported all the incidents to the Labour Ministry, and the ministry has failed to conduct timely inspections, she added. Nurses say there are too few staff, too few panic alarms and the hospital doesn’t adequately assess or medicate potentially violent patients. The Labour Ministry sent inspectors yesterday to probe concerns and will return today to share the results.
January 21: Glenda Hubley, ONA Local 46 President, says she and members of Unifor are “united in their anger” over the Sault Area Hospital’s plans to cut jobs (Sault Star, January 21, 2015). “You never trim at the bedside,” said Hubley. “You never trim the direct-care providers. That definitely affects patients when you trim and cut at the bedside.” She and Unifor Local 1359 president Laurie Lessard-Brown say that top management ought to shoulder more of the burden. The hospital has to cut $10 million from its budget due to receiving less funding than previously anticipated. Hubley says that “I think nurses are already overworked and, by the hospital’s planning to reduce even more nurses at the bedside, I, as well as the Ontario Nurses’ Association, have huge concerns regarding quality patient care.” She notes that while the hospital will eliminate some management positions, it is creating supervisor positions. Cuts mean that “direct patient-care hours are gone,” said Hubley. “It will mean less nurses, potentially, at the bedside. If you decrease a staff nurse, you decrease nursing hours at the bedside. That’s how it directly affects patients.”
January 19: Sault Area Hospital management say they are still working on the latest round of layoffs at the city’s main healthcare facility (Sault Star, January 19, 2015). The administration has confirmed that 35 full-time and seven part-time positions will be cut. Members of ONA will be impacted, confirmed CEO Ron Gagnon. He said that he hopes attrition will help ensure that no one is out the door. ONA Local 46 President Glenda Hubley would not comment on Monday evening.
January 19: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that ONA is also surprised to see the dramatic increase in the number of physical attacks on nurses at London Health Sciences Centre (CBC Radio 1, January 19, 2015). She says the union is “very worried and very disappointed” by what’s happening in the province’s healthcare facilities. McKenna says there is serious overcrowding, not enough services, and the response of employers to workplace violence is “not acceptable.” She also notes that attacks on nurses are increasing in long-term care and other hospitals, not just in mental health facilities. The increase can be put down to issues such as staffing shortages, overcapacity, not enough community services, a shortage of panic alarms for nurses, and the need for the Ministry of Labour to do its job. McKenna says that ONA and nurses have been raising the alarm for months, alerting authorities to the crisis situation we are in, and that we need more staff.
January 19: Talks between ONA and 10 of the province’s CCACs “are headed to final mediation” this week to try to avert a strike (Bullet News, January 19, 2015). There are potential strikes at all 10 CCACs, including in Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant. Union members will hold strike votes.
January 20: ONA has reached an impasse with the employer at 10 CCACs (Canadian Labour Reporter, January 20, 2015). Following three days of mediation, the parties were unable to reach an agreement and strike votes will be held at 10 bargaining units in the coming weeks. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “we are very concerned that the employer continues to single out and relegate this very important group of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, registered practical nurses and other allied health employees to second-class citizen status. Adding insult to injury, these are the very same employers, including their CEOs, who have granted themselves salary increases that go far beyond anything they have offered our union members.” She added that the years of “taking our lumps are long over,” as care coordinators have had years of concessions already. ONA remains open to returning to the bargaining table.
January 19: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is warning that staff at 10 of the 14 CCACs could soon be on strike (Queen’s Park Briefing, January 19, 2015). ONA says that, “our dedicated care coordinators are vital to assessing their patients and ensuring they fully determine their needs for care and support at home or in the community.” President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that “our members would like to continue to be there for their patients as they are discharged from hospital to their homes, or are waiting to be placed in long-term care.” Key outstanding issues are wage improvements and ensuring the care coordinators can meet their professional standards.
January 21: Workers with the local CCAC could be headed for a strike as early as February after three days of mediation talks broke down (Brockville Recorder & Times, January 21, 2015). ONA and 10 CCACs have reached a stalemate, and ONA said, in a press release, that the employer walked away from the table, “leaving the care coordinators with no other option but to take strike action to ensure a collective agreement that reflects the value our CCAC members provide to the health care system.” Strike votes will be held over the coming weeks; ONA says it is looking for some wage increases. The last contract expired on March 31, 2014.
January 21: ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that a strike “is the last thing these folks [CCAC care coordinators] want to do,” but talks between ONA and the CCACs have broken down (Sarnia Observer, January 21, 2015). ONA represents about 3,500 care coordinators in 10 of the 14 CCACs in Ontario. Last-ditch mediation attempts over wages failed over the weekend, and the legal strike date is January 30. Concerns over workload and professional issues have been resolved, said McKenna, but the sticking point remains what to pay care coordinators. ONA is seeking a 1.4-per-cent increase, which McKenna says is in line with the increases other ONA members have received. “We’re not asking for the moon here.” She adds that if the CCACs are prepared to have some serious discussions, ONA is open to continue bargaining.
January 19: Nurses who help you navigate Ontario’s health care system have “voted to go on strike” January 30 if final contract talks fail this week (Barrie Advance, January 19, 2015). RNs and health team members at 10 CCACs, including the one in Barrie, are in final mediation talks. ONA represents 166 nurses in the area who act as case coordinators and help patients, says the report.
January 20: CCAC workers who belong to the Ontario Nurses’ Association could be on strike by the end of the month (Sarnia Observer, January 20, 2015). Care coordinators at 10 provincial CCACs have been without a contract since last March. ONA says the outstanding issues between the two sides are “wage improvements equal to their hospital counterparts…as well as to ensure they are able to meet their professional standards.” Mediation was held over the weekend. CCAC spokesperson Renee Trombley said the CCACs are “open to continue bargaining.”
January 20: The Chatham Daily News (January 20, 2015) reports that nursing union members with the agency that oversees home-care services and long-term care homes could be on strike by month’s end. The Ontario Nurses’ Association says that those at 10 CCACs – including those at the Erie-St. Clair CCAC – have been without a contract since last March. Mediation between the union and CCACs was held over the weekend.
January 17: RNs and health team members at Community Care Access Centres could be headed to the picket line (CHML AM, January 17, 2015). Talks between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the CCACs are now at mediation. There is a strike date of January 30.
January 14: Two unions say their latest round of talks with Quinte Health Care have given them “little cause for optimism” (Belleville Intelligencer, January 14, 2015.) OPSEU says the hospital’s “token gesture” of involving unions in restructuring discussions were just going through the motions, and the employer knows that there are no counterproposals unions have that could possibly have an effect. Ontario hospitals are receiving less funding as the province “tries to bolster its community care programs” and that has left QHC with a $12-million shortfall in the fiscal year beginning in April. Unions want QHC management to stop telling the public that everything is okay. “You can’t cut $12 million from your budget and you can’t cut staff and still have the same level of service. It’s just not common sense,” says OPSEU staff representative Ivan Herrington. Unifor Local 8300 president Jake Gibson says QHC’s plans likely won’t work. He says senior staff are not meeting an article in the collective agreement requiring the hospital to announce within 20 days whether they will fill vacancies. QHC has also met with representatives of the Ontario Nurses’ Association and SEIU.
January 13: ONA and the City of Thunder Bay have ratified a new two-year contract (CBC Radio 1, January 13, 2015.) The agreement covers 58 full-time and part-time nurses working at three homes for the aged. The contract provides a 1.4-per-cent wage increase for each year.
January 12: As the Ontario Nurses’ Association and OPSEU continue to raise concerns about growing workplace violence in the healthcare sector, CAMH has responded to the attacks on two nurses recently (Parkdale Villager, January 12, 2015.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said that “it’s high time that CAMH management recognizes – and takes steps to eliminate – the factors that are contributing to this epidemic of workplace violence.” In response, CAMH chief of nursing and professional practice Rani Srivastava said that “staff and patient safety are inextricably linked at CMAH as our highest priority….there is a lot of work going on to prevent workplace violence at CAMH at the leadership level as well as on the ground.” In the fiscal year 2013-14, CAMH reported 514 workplace violence incidents, with 453 involving physical assaults or abuse. That is a 29-per-cent increase over the previous year. ONA suggests that the risk can be decreased by hiring properly trained security professionals that would work around the clock.
January 12: North Bay Regional is cutting 75 positions to balance its budget, and the Ontario Nurses’ Association is losing 16 of 22 full-time RN jobs (North Bay Nugget, January 12, 2015.) CUPE Local 139 president Shawn Shark says that the number of cuts – especially to nursing positions – is a surprise. The hospital slashed 34 jobs in June and cut another 40 nursing jobs in April 2013. CUPE will lose 27 full-time positions, including 10 RPNs. OPSEU will lose eight full-time positions.
January 9: The City of Windsor must pay RNs at Huron Lodge more than $125,000 in an arbitration award (Windsor Star, January 9, 2015.) Ontario Nurses’ Association President says the award spans three years and represents a battle that is rare and unnecessary. Linda Haslam-Stroud says she was personally “very disappointed in the employer’s position at the table.” Homes for the aged, she says, traditionally pay their nurses what their hospital counterparts are paid. Windsor is one of the few jurisdictions that challenged this, and in the end had to pay what the union asked for. The RNs will received zero per cent increases for the first two years, receive lump sum payments, and a 2.75-per-cent increase in the third year of the contract, which expired in 2014. A new contract must now be negotiated.
January 9: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and OPSEU have charged that two more nurses have been attacked and injured in the last week at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Queen’s Park Briefing, January 9, 2015.) ONA and OPSEU add that the incidents show the growing problem of workplace violence in the province’s healthcare sector. Linda Haslam-Stroud, ONA President, says that “it’s high time that CAMH management recognizes – and takes steps to eliminate – the factors that are contributing to this epidemic of workplace violence. The employer needs to immediately work with us and address staffing levels, policies and risk assessment procedures.” CAMH is facing Ministry of Labour charges under the Occupational Health & Safety Act related to a violent incident nearly a year ago. In the fiscal year 2013-14, CAMH reported 514 workplace violence incidents, 453 of which involved physical assaults or abuse.
January 1: The Ministry of Labour is investigating after a Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) nurse was allegedly attacked by a patient (Toronto Star, January 1, 2015.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that in the incident, “the nurse was shoved by the patient and then hit in the head a number of times, and she was basically taken by ambulance to hospital, and she hasn’t been back to work.” CAMH was recently charged by the ministry over a different beating of a nurse by a patient, back in January, 2014. Four charges have been laid in that incident, including failing to provide sufficient information and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence. CAMH says it will vigorously defend itself. ONA noted that there were 453 incidents of violence in the last fiscal year. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that, “Our patients need to be provided appropriate care. However, our nurses cannot be put at this high level of risk continuously and it is happening more frequently with significant injuries.”
December 24: Brockville Mental Health Centre is facing five charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act relating to alleged worker safety violations (December 24, 2014). The Ontario Ministry of Labour says the charges against the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group operating as Brockville Mental Health Centre are related to the incident in October in which a nurse was stabbed by a patient in the forensic unit. The ministry says the centre had failed to provide sufficient information, instruction and supervision to protect an employee from workplace violence or the risk from a patient. It also accuses the facility of failing to implement safety devices, measures and procedures to protect an employee from workplace violence or risk from a patient. Toronto’s CAMH faces similar changes. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that health and safety charges do not seem to be effective in persuading health providers to ensure safe workplaces. “It seems that it’s going to take criminal charges against the CEO, directors, and managers to make health care employers take seriously their responsibility for ensuring our workplaces are safe,” she said.
December 23: CP24 (December 23, 2014) reports that the Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid four charges against the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health related to the beating of a nurse. The charges come under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The Ontario Nurses’ Association had been urging the government to lay charges.
December 24: The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid charges against the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health after a nurse was brutally beaten last January (Toronto Star, December 24, 2014.) The ministry laid four charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including failing to provide sufficient information and supervision to protect a worker and failing to implement measures and procedures to protect workers. It faces a maximum $2 million fine if convicted of all four charges. ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna says that “it shouldn’t have to come to this. Employers have an obligation, no matter what, to ensure the safety of patients and staff.” She added that if charges are “the only thing that will have this employer pay attention, then I guess that’s what it has to be.”
December 22: A lawyer for The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group says that if the Ottawa Citizen had restricted itself “to reporting what was in” an Ontario Nurses’ Association media release, the hospital would not be in court arguing for a stay in proceedings in the trial against it (Ottawa Citizen, December 22, 2014.) Hospital lawyer Stephen Bird told the court that the hospital doesn’t need proof that coverage of the trial has possibly tainted future witnesses’ testimony. The Citizen is opposing a publication ban of proceedings, as is the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The Royal is in court facing three charges under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act: failing to provide proper training to protect workers’ health and safety; failing to take proper precautions to protect workers; and failing to develop proper measures for workers to summon help in an emergency.
December 18: A new collective agreement has been reached between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (CIMJ FM, December 18, 2014.) The deal has been ratified by both sides and will include wage gains of four and one-half percent, spread over three years.
December 18: The Ontario Nurses’ Association and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health have both signed a three-year collective agreement (The Fountain Pen, December 18, 2014.) The agreement includes modest pay increases for public health nurses: two per cent in the first year, 1.5 per cent in the second and one per cent in the final year of the three-year agreement.
December 19: ONA is working to arrange a meeting with the provincial government and Ministry of Health to develop a strategy to prevent violence against nurses (OH&S Canada magazine, December 19, 2014.) ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says she has spoken with one of the premier’s staff and she expects to be “getting together to discuss further how to develop some kind of action plan.” Southlake Regional Health Centre is the site of the latest serious attack on a nurse. The nurses had already requested additional security to help them deal with Form 1 patients but did not receive the assistance. In addition, management had taken away nurses’ panic alarms because they were deemed to be too expensive, but they were returned following the attack.
December 19: ONA is calling for the Ministry of Labour to press charges against Southlake Regional Health Centre following another violent incident (OH&S Canada magazine, December 19, 2014.) A patient assaulted a nurse in the ER at the beginning of December; ONA sent a media release charging that Southlake had failed to protect its staff properly. ONA Vice-President Andy Summers says that security failed to take over the observation of a patient and when the incident occurred, security was not able to respond. This was the latest of several such incidents at Southlake. Most notably, last year a patient beat up a nurse and injured three others. Summers says such incidents are increasing, and that unfortunately, “this is going to escalate to the point where a nurse is…going to die.”
December 15: Charges are being sought against Southlake Regional Health Centre after a registered nurse was assaulted by a patient while working in the emergency room (OHS Canada, East Gwillimbury Era, December 15, 2014.)The Ontario Nurses’ Association wants the Ministry of Labour to press charges against the hospital for failing to properly protect staff. A similar violent incident in 2013 saw a nurse and three others injured by a patient. In that case the patient was arrested for assault but no charges were laid against the hospital. “This is a problem that we’ve noticed across the province, that police are reluctant to lay charges,” says Andy Summers, ONA’s vice-president of health and safety. He blames much of the problem on a common belief “that violence is inherently part of a nurse’s job. And that pervasive culture, I think, may be not unique in Ontario, but is very, very present up at Southlake.” A 29-year-old man has been charged with assault and two counts of failing to comply with probation in relation to the most recent incident.
December 13: Heightened workplace safety concerns will be taken into account as plans move forward to add a new two-bed unit to the Brockville Mental Health Centre (BMHC) for the treatment of mental health issues in women in federal police custody (Brockville Recorder and Times, December 13, 2014.) Staff concerns over workplace safety at the facility came to the forefront after the October 10 stabbing of a nurse by a patient. The incident led to a complaint from the Ontario Nurses’ Association and Ministry of Labour orders to upgrade security measures. Nicole Loreto, the vice-president of communications for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, says that they have been consulting with staff on security concerns while designing the new unit. The unit is part of a pilot project launched in response to the findings of the coroner’s inquest into the 2007 death of Ashley Smith, a woman with mental health issues who died by suicide while being held at a federal correctional facility.
December 12: In a letter to the editor in the Windsor Star, ONA Vice-President Vicki McKenna thanks the public and local media for continuing to focus on the “plight” faced by health-care workers at Leamington District Memorial Hospital where budget challenges have led to a proposal to close the hospital’s already underfunded obstetrics unit (December 12, 2014.) McKenna hopes that the kind of “public outcry” the community responded with when faced with a one third cut to home care services will continue in the fight to save Leamington’s obstetrics unit and CCAC services.
December 11: The Ontario Nurses’ Association wants the Ministry of Labour to issue charges against Southlake Regional Health Centre after a nurse was physically assaulted by an emergency room patient last week (Newmarket Era, December 11, 2014.) The Union says the hospital is responsible “for failing to ensure the safety of staff.” Reports of workplace violence for health-care workers are on the rise; in 2013 another incident at Southlake left a nurse with serious injuries. ONA Regional Vice-President Andy Summers says that “incidents are at epidemic proportions” and worries that “no one will pay attention until someone dies on the job.” He says that while Southlake has taken steps since the 2013 incident, including the creation of its Corporate Workplace Violence Prevention Committee, there have been no substantive changes to improve or protect worker safety.
December 11: More staffing cuts are coming to Quinte Health Care as the organization looks to close a $12-million funding gap (Belleville EMC, December 11, 2014.) QHC’s director of communications says the hospital will “strive to make sure they don’t impact patient care.” Among the union leaders that management met with this week are the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Unifor, Ontario Public Services Employees Union and SEIU Healthcare. During the meetings, the union leaders will offer their suggestions for saving money. Last year, QHC cut 80 jobs. Unifor Local 8300 president Jake Gibson noted that there are 59 employees earning more than $100,000 yearly, yet when management cuts staff, “it’s always on the back of the workers. We’re getting cut or are expected to do more.” He believes that rather than target relatively low-paid front-line workers, the hospital should focus on management cuts.
December 10: Violence in healthcare workplaces is an epidemic, says Andy Summers, Vice-President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (Yahoo Canada, December 10, 2014.) While some professions seem like naturals for experiencing violence – soldier, police officer or nightclub bouncer – nursing is a surprise. Summers says there is little being done to improve the safety and security of health care providers. “We have, particularly in health care, this pervasive culture of accepting risk of violence as essentially part of the job,” he says. “Even nurses themselves somehow have brought into this sentiment that being hit or punched or bitten or yelled at and abused is essentially part of their day-to-day work.” The point was brought home in the last week as a nurse and a doctor were assaulted in two BC hospitals and a nurse was injured at an Ontario facility. In Ontario, a nurse at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket was attacked by a patient in the ER, and a nurse in Brockville was repeatedly stabbed with a pen. A 2009 Statistics Canada survey found half of the nurses working in geriatric and long-term care facilities reported being physically assaulted in the previous year. Summers says that he has to persuade his own peers that they don’t have to accept that nursing is a dangerous job.
December 8: ONA is pressing the Ministry of Labour to issue charges following yet another violent attack on a nurse at Southlake Regional Health Centre (Nurses’ Newsline, December 8, 2014.) ONA and the RN are holding Southlake Regional responsible for failing to ensure the safety of staff. In 2013, the same hospital had another serious attack that resulted in a nurse being injured. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that in this incident, the nurses recognized the volatile nature of their situation and asked for security’s help. Again, they were left without help and “suffered the consequences.” Haslam-Stroud says the hospital continues to show disregard for health and safety laws and the safety of its nurses. “Enough is enough,” she said. “Nursing doesn’t have to be dangerous work.”
December 9: A letter to the editor of the Windsor Star (December 9, 2014) from ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna thanks the newspaper for its thorough coverage of challenges faced by both the Erie St. Clair CCAC and Leamington District Memorial Hospital. McKenna writes that nurses have the answer to many of the questions posed in the Star by columnist Anne Jarvis. McKenna writes that 30 years of corporate tax cuts have taken billions out of the provincial and federal coffers, and the price that we are paying now is an underfunded healthcare system that is hurting patients. Hospital budgets have been flatlined for years as government said care would be provided in the community. Now we face the prospect of the closure of underfunded hospitals and service cuts, such as the obstetrics unit in Leamington. There are solutions, and this unit could be kept open. The people of Leamington would suffer dearly without it. Nurses know the reality of their patients’ needs. McKenna writes that she hopes the kind of outcry that Windsor residents displayed when a one-third cut to home care services was announced will continue. We must all fight for properly funded, safe, quality, publicly delivered healthcare.
December 9: A letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator (December 9, 2014) says that St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Hamilton has successfully transitioned to RPNs performing new tasks from having RNs perform them. Domenic Di Pasquale, President of CUPE Local 786, notes that at the time the change was announced, ONA said the move was about money only. The hospital “swapped” 58 RN jobs to RPN jobs, and Di Pasquale writes that while at that time, ONA “appeared to disparage the ability of registered practical nurses” to perform the new tasks, the move has been successful. Both RNs and RPNs are dedicated to providing professional, quality care, he says, and CUPE supports and admires the work of RNs. He also writes that “we do not seek to take their jobs. Indeed, given the real funding cuts the Liberal government has imposed for years on St. Joseph’s, we welcome every opportunity to work with registered nurses and their union to stop the cuts and save the services at our vital hospital.”
December 8: The Ontario Nurses’ Association wants the provincial Labour Ministry to charge Southlake Regional Health Centre with health and safety violations after an emergency room nurse was attacked (Queen’s Park Briefing, December 8, 2014.) ONA says that it is pressing the government to lay charges for what it says is the failure of the hospital to ensure the safety of its staff. ONA says the nurses recognized the volatile nature of the situation and called for security, but nothing was done. The hospital had another incident last year. In that incident, York Regional police charged the attacker but not the hospital. “Enough is enough,” said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud. “Nursing doesn’t have to be dangerous work.”
December 3: Chatham-Kent and Lambton County residents were among those who attended a pro-public health care rally at Queen’s Park on November 21 (Chatham This Week, December 3, 2014.) Thousands of Ontarians travelled to Toronto, joining members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association and Unifor at the Ontario Health Coalition-organized protest. Shirley Roebuck, chair of the local Health Coalition, said that agency officials, doctors, patients and their families all spoke out about the need for keeping community hospitals and local health care services in place. The OHC says the provincial government has been systematically downsizing and dismantling small and rural hospitals and introducing for-profit clinics to the system. Roebuck says that part of the blame is frozen hospital budgets.
December 1: The Ontario Labour Relations Board has issued an interim order for the Brockville Hospital Mental Health Centre to heighten staff security (Canadian Occupational Health & Safety magazine, December 1, 2014.) The Ontario Nurses’ Association says it is of paramount importance to ensure security guards are trained properly in how to safely restrain a patient and to effectively handle violent situations to better protect both patients and workers. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud says that “over the past four years, the acuity of patients…has increased. The mental health illnesses are more complex and require more than one-to-one observation, and certainly this has meant an increase in the potential for violent attacks by patients against our members.”
December 2: The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling on the provincial government to make nurses’ workplaces safer (Queen’s Park Briefing, December 2, 2014.) The union has launched a campaign to press the Liberals to develop a province-wide strategy to prevent workplace violence. ONA regional vice-president responsible for health and safety, Andy Summers, says that “we need recognition from the government that health care is dangerous and that health care doesn’t have to be dangerous work.” ONA’s most recent push comes following an Ontario Labour Relations Board decision that requires a unit of Brockville Mental Health Centre to have more security staff. The hospital must hire security guards who know how to safely restrain a patient and effectively handle violent situations. ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud said in a statement that, “this very important ruling recognizes that an employer must take reasonable precautions in the midst of workplace violence.” Summers says that safety needs to be considered in the construction of buildings as well, and that screeners should be behind glass and have some rooms structured so that patients can be seen from inside at all times.
December 1: ONA is applauding a labour board decision to force the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group to increase security for nursing staff (CFRA AM, December 1, 2014.) ONA VP Andy Summers says that the decision “recognizes the fact that the nurses in Brockville have been struggling for some time with adequate resources to provide proper client care in this hazardous environment that they work in, where they have been having numerous violent instances over the last year, and I would say last months and years.”
December 1: ONA is applauding a decision to force Royal Ottawa Health Care Group to increase security for staff at the Brockville Hospital Mental Health Centre’s B-4 Unit (580 CFRA News, December 1, 2014.) The decision comes following a violent attack on a nurse. Security guards are to escort nurses when they provide care to and interact with violent patients. ONA Vice-President Andy Summers says that ONA is happy with the decision as it “recognizes the fact that the nurses in Brockville have been struggling for some time with adequate resources to provide proper client care in this hazardous environment they work in…” He says that there have been numerous violent incidents in the past. ONA is asking the provincial government to create a strategy to deal with workplace violence in the health care sector. ONA has documented some 1,500 attacks on workers at two large Ontario hospitals this year alone.
December 1: The head of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Care Group is unhappy that local nurse and Ontario Nurses’ Association regional Vice-President Anne Clark has criticized his organization (Metro Ottawa, December 1, 2014.) The newspaper reported that the Ontario Labour Relations Board issued an interim order for the Brockville Mental Health Care Centre to add security guards to the forensic psychiatric unit after a nurse was violently attacked. Clark told Metro she welcomed the additional layer of security and said she was “disappointed” that the hospital tried to block the order. The hospital’s president and CEO, George Weber, issued a statement that said it would obey the order but was “disappointed by the remarks made by Ms Clark.” Weber declined to answer questions about when they would hire the security guards, saying the hospital “is committed to maintaining a healthy work environment for our staff and providing the right therapeutic milieu for our patients.”
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