Nurses Alarmed at Potential Algoma Public Health Staffing Cuts
November 1, 2023
SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, November 1, 2023 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is deeply concerned about potential looming cuts to front-line staffing – which may include nurses and health-care professionals – at Algoma Public Health, following news that its Board of Health will be recommending a ‘workforce reduction’ to save money in the face of a projected $1.5-million budget shortfall for 2024.
“Ontario’s health-care system is under tremendous pressure today, in large part due to the withholding of health-care funding from every sector of the system by the Ford government,” says ONA Provincial President Erin Ariss, RN. “The prospect of up to 15 health unit positions, possibly including the nurses that ONA represents – being eliminated should send a chill down the spine of every resident of the District of Algoma. We all need the expert care and services of our public health nurses and health-care professionals now more than ever. The employer has yet to make it clear which workers will be cut, but the bottom line is that any cuts to the front lines will be paid for with peoples’ health.”
Ariss notes that this health unit has recently cut its smoking cessation services and removed nurses from its Sexual Health information line. There are fewer public flu vaccine clinics being held, no more in-person prenatal services, and several programs for new parents and their babies have already been cut. “This has already created a large gap in public health services,” says Ariss, “at a time when people across the province are struggling to find even basic care. Public health services are meant to reduce harm, prevent illness and improve the health of the population. It is nonsensical to cut those services when they are more needed than ever.”
ONA is calling on the Board of Health for the District of Algoma to protect the delivery of invaluable and longstanding public health programs and services in their communities. “Our nurses are exhausted after years of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now facing massive backlogs in immunizations and infectious diseases programs, staffing must not be cut – that would do nothing but put communities at risk,” Ariss says. “If cuts are needed, it’s past time to reduce the large number of new management positions rather than reduce front-line worker levels to lower than before the pandemic. Protecting the jobs of those on the front lines of public health means protecting the local delivery of health-care services to communities.”
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.