SUDBURY, Ont. — Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 1623 will hold a media conference at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday March 10, at 885 Regent Street, Unit 3-11A in Sudbury, to raise concerns about overcrowding and patient safety at Health Sciences North (HSN). The hospital is so overcrowded that patients are being temporarily housed in tub rooms and hallways and there have been several complaints to the Fire Marshall’s Office.

“It’s heartbreaking and very frustrating to see patients housed in tub rooms,” says Dave Shelefontiuk, president of CUPE 1623, which represents staff at HSN.  

Consistently research shows that hospital patient occupancy rates over 85 per cent increase the risk of hospital-acquired infections. “We are at over 100 per cent capacity,” says Shelefontiuk. “These overcrowded conditions are not safe for patients because of the risk, among other things, of transmission of infection that jumps dramatically in overcrowded hospitals. It has become a major challenge to clean rooms as quickly as possible, as the next patient is already in the hallway waiting for a bed.”

HSN has cut beds, services and staff in the face of a 5-year funding freeze imposed by the provincial Liberal government. Costs at Ontario hospitals are increasing by over 4 per cent annually, rising faster than inflation because of the soaring costs of drugs provided free to inpatients and medical technologies, among other factors. HSN’s budget was cut by over 20 per cent in real terms in this 4-year period. Ontario hospitals were the most efficient hospitals in the country with the fewest beds and staff, shortest lengths of stay and lowest costs before the budget freeze.

Despite a small increase of 1 per cent for hospital base funding in last month’s provincial budget, the Liberal government still needs to address years of “deep cuts to funding, beds and staff,” says Sharon Richer vice-president of CUPE 1623.  

When inflationary costs are factored in, the 1 per cent funding hike, translates into a 3 per cent cut, Richer says. The overcrowding at HSN is “untenable and directly due to the ongoing cuts to beds at the hospital. Today we are asking the Liberal government to fund our hospital properly and alleviate the problem at the root of this decision,” she says.

For more information please contact:

Dave Shelefontiuk
President, CUPE 1623

Sharon Richer
Vice-president CUPE 1623

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications