Patient care at the Ottawa Hospital will suffer following 290 job cuts, according to the unions at the city’s largest hospital.
It’s “absurd” to say otherwise, said Ontario Nurses Association Local 83 president Frances Smith.
Eliminating 74 nursing positions means the loss of more than 100,000 hours a year of hands-on, front line nursing care and “research consistently proves that every time a registered nurse’s workload increases, patient complications and death rates rise by 7%,” said Smith.
Three unions were uniting against TOH CEO Dr. Jack Kitts, who on Wednesday said the elimination of jobs will preserve or enhance patient care.
An estimated $22 million will be saved by the hospital.
Registered nurses will likely be discharging patients in the intensive care unit — something Smith said she’s not comfortable with.
“I’m very concerned we are going to have patients who will fall through the cracks…that is the absolute last thing we want to see happen to our patients. They don’t deserve that,” she said.
Approximately 15 nurses who served as ‘team leaders’ in the 36-bed unit will be let go to create assistant manager positions in the inpatient units, Smith said.
“I can only presume (they’ll) potentially be in the position of having to discipline us when we can’t provide all those services,” she said.
In addition, there are talks of cafeteria workers getting laid off because the hospital isn’t turning a profit, said CUPE 4000 president Bruce Waller.
He challenged Kitt’s earlier statement regarding 600 vacant positions, saying those jobs don’t exist.
Positions are considered open for a variety of factors, such as temporary workers who aren’t suitable permanent candidates, so it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re simply available, hospital spokeswoman Hazel Harding wrote in an e-mail.
“Many of these vacancies are caused by internal movement of staff and we consider this a healthy indicator of the flexibility in career opportunities at TOH,” Harding wrote.
In addition, there are currently roughly 180 staff on parental leave and “there are 13 permanent positions currently open for which (we) are actively recruiting,” said Harding.
OPSEU Local 464 president Mike Donaldson, representing non-nursing staff, said “the province hasn’t stepped up to the point where the community can take over,” although community-based care is being pushed by Queen’s Park.
A review of outpatient work is currently being evaluated by management, Donaldson said.
BREAKDOWN OF CUTS
CUPE Local 400: 144 affected including full-time and part-time, and upward of 175 jobs including casual positions (support staff, RPN, nutrition/food, clerical, housekeeping, orderlies, trades)
ONA Local 85: 74 nurses, majority full-time, and some vacant (nursing)
OPSEU Local 464: 30 cuts so far, 100 full-time equivalent jobs to be expected (audiology, X-ray, physiotherapy, social work, imaging)