Rehabilitation RNs deliver petition to University Health Network CEO, call for an end to RN cuts, urge CEO to staff up instead

June 9, 2023

TORONTO, ON, June 9, 2023 – Yesterday, dozens of registered nurses (RNs) from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute hand-delivered a petition to University Health Network’s CEO, calling for an immediate stop to RN layoffs at the Toronto Rehab-Lyndhurst Centre and the recruitment of more RNs instead.

“More than 85 per cent of our RNs signed the petition, strongly urging CEO Kevin Smith to take action on RN staffing and stop a model of care that puts patients with spinal cord injuries at risk,” says ONA President Erin Ariss, RN. “During the pandemic, this employer left RN vacancies unfilled, despite the call for more nurses and health-care professionals. Recently, its Lyndhurst Centre site introduced a new model of care that eliminates all RN positions on its in-patient units to just one RN per shift, decreasing two hours of RN care per patient per day. That’s a loss of 64 RN hours per day on the first floor alone. This puts patients with spinal cord injuries at risk and is anything but conducive to good-quality, safe patient care.”

Ariss says that, "Spinal cord-injured patients must have the advanced skills and specialized knowledge of RNs. Lyndhurst Centre RNs both provide direct patient care and are a resource for other health-care providers who need to consult. The RNs take over care when a patient becomes less stable or their acuity increases."

Lyndhurst cut one RN at the end of March, following the lay-off of 30 full-time RNs at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. The RNs have been raising their concerns since last fall, including with University Health Network’s Chief Nursing Executive, asking for the new model of care to be stopped. They are now taking their battle to the CEO, demanding that Kevin Smith recruit more RNs, stop the replacement of RNs and institute a moratorium on using a new model of care at other Toronto Rehab sites.

“University Health Network has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada and boasts of its care quality and research projects,” says Ariss. “Yet without enough RNs, those vulnerable patients in their beds will receive anything but first-class care. The CEO surely knows this. It’s time for him to act now and make safe, quality patient care at Toronto Rehab a priority.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.


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Sheree Bond