Urgent need for enhancing clients’ supports must be resolved at conciliation, says ONA
June 16, 2021
Wednesday, June 16, 2021 (Hamilton, Ontario) – The urgent need for intensive mental health programming and supports has reached an unsafe point where health-care professionals at the Hamilton Program for Schizophrenia (HPS) have been forced to provide services to almost double the number of clients the provincial guideline on case management capacity states.
More than 100 new clients have become part of HPS, with no additional staff added to provide optimal treatment and care that clients deserve. The nine registered nurses and health-care professionals – members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association – are over-stretched, feel unsupported and constantly have to make difficult decisions to prioritize, which can cause undue stress on clients. In addition, HPS has a growing wait list that needs immediate attention.
“It is a fact that our members’ dedicated work helps to alleviate the pressure off of hospitals, which saves countless thousands of dollars,” ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, says. “But our members cannot work in these extremely challenging conditions anymore. They need support so that their clients can get the care they so desperately need. The HPS is in dire need of additional health-care professionals to bring down client caseloads to a more manageable level.”
Over the past year, the Ford provincial government has made mental health treatment and supports a provincial cornerstone to its health-care program. More than $175 million in funding has been allocated in this year’s provincial budget for community organizations, LHINs and other not-for-profit centres to improve mental health supports. Yet, these much-needed funds have not trickled down to reach HPS, which has not seen an increase in front-line staff in over a decade.
ONA members and the employer are heading to conciliation on June 21 to try to resolve these very difficult challenges. “Our members continue to bring many concrete solutions to the table, which will lead to improved care and will help Hamiltonians to be kept healthy and safe. I urge the employer to listen to our members with an open mind, and to come to the table with substantive options to improve care for our clients.”
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.