Layoffs at a network of facilities for the frail elderly, people with chronic and terminal illness, and persons with disabilities will have serious consequences, a union leader is warning.
Bruyere Continuing Care is eliminating 140 jobs as part of a realignment strategy announced Tuesday.
“The patients aren’t decreasing,” said Brian Grant, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4540.
“You can’t take 48 people away and expect the same quality of care.”
Personal Care Attendant positions will primarily be eliminated, but some new Registered Nurses will be hired, resulting in 87 fewer positions.
But with staffers opting to bump those with less seniority or taking early retirement, “that number could be lower,” said interim chief of staff Dr. Chris Carruthers.
“This process takes months.”
Regardless, “that comes down to workload issues and patient safety, and who’s going to do the work?,” said Grant, representing more than 800 frontline workers.
Grant, a RPN, said nurses are slightly more qualified than their PCA counterparts in that they handle medication, complex dressings, feeding tubes, and IV tubes.
PCA staffers are often feeding, washing, dressing, and positioning or turning residents.
“RPNs can do that also, and we do do that,” said Grant.
Nurses generally have five patients, while PCAs have six or seven, he said.
Now, “you’re taking the PCA role out. You’re giving that work to somebody else. Who?”
With a $4.2 million deficit, Bruyere provides complex continuing care for the elderly and rehabilitation, palliative care, long-term care and family medicine.
Carruthers maintains complex care will improve by providing RPNs at the bedside, a statement backed by president and CEO Bernie Blais.
“These decisions are not made lightly. We are committed to working with our union representatives to minimize the number of staff affected and to redeploy as many employees as possible,” Blais said in a statement.
“Our goal is to provide the highest quality of care for the best value. We must act now to be sustainable and to meet the requirements of our community’s patients and residents. We need to provide care in a better way — a smarter way.”
Expanding its outpatient stroke rehabilitation clinic will allow patients to transition home sooner with supports in place, said Blais.
Many PCA workers are single mothers making bottom-end salaries.
“These are people’s lives that are being affected…and we’re concerned about their livelihoods, also,” said Grant.