PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Reduced hours and staff cuts proposed by management at Fairhaven Home for the Aged will have a negative impact on residential care, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). CUPE represents 280 full and part-time frontline health care workers in the 250-bed home.
“We are not an assembly line – we provide care to elderly residents,” said Carolyn Shaughnessy, president of CUPE 131. “Our members are already working under tight timelines with heavy workloads. Further reductions will reduce the time available for us to do our jobs properly.”
The long-term care workers have played an integral role in rebuilding Fairhaven. Between 1995 and 2000, CUPE workers accepted a 5-year wage freeze to save the home from closure. In contrast, management received a 9% increase during the same period. The last contract, which expired on December 31, 2004, included only minimal increases that didn’t make up ground lost to inflation. “We need a reasonable wage increase to help us achieve wage parity with long-term care workers in neighbouring municipalities,” said Shaughnessy.
“Before this round of negotiations even began, management threatened lay-offs if we received any wage increases,” said Shaughnessy. “Now that we are headed to our first arbitration in over 20 years, to seek a fair wage increase, management is following through on those threats, and cutting staff. It’s unconscionable.”
In addition to the impact on direct nursing care, the cuts will eliminate two recreational programs at the home. “Management is blaming the cuts on inadequate funding, but Fairhaven has over two million dollars in the Working Capital Reserve fund and the home will receive another two million dollars from the sale of their former site,” said Shaughnessy. “These funds should be used to enhance care for residents – not stashed away in a reserve fund, that continues to grow every year, to improve a building that is less than five years old.” Fairhaven has received increased funding from the ministry of Health and Long-Term Care over the past two years.
According to audited Fairhaven financial statements, management has discretion to use reserve funds as it sees fit, in the best interests of the home. “Management must make the right decision – cutting staff hours is not in the best interests of Fairhaven residents,” said Shaughnessy. “We’re asking families and the community to tell the board and management to stop the cuts and restore full hours, so residents can enjoy the quality of care they deserve,” said Shaughnessy.
For further information contact:
Carolyn Shaughnessy, President CUPE 131 (705) 875-0975 cell
Allison Davidson, CUPE national representative (705) 743- 0600
James Chai, CUPE communications (416) 292-3999