CUPE, representing clerical workers at the New Waterford Consolidated and Northside General hospitals, says the announcement to close both facilities came out of the blue with no prior consultation with employees or the communities served by the hospitals.

“This is a huge loss for two communities that are already struggling with unreliable and inaccessible hospital services and beds,” says CUPE NS President Nan McFadgen. “To not consult with the communities that will be affected by this dismantling of services is disrespectful to say the least.”

Beverley Strachan, president of CUPE Local 8920, which represents clerical workers at both facilities, says the lack of details on how employees will be affected is greatly disturbing and unsettling. “This is causing a lot of anxiety among hospital staff,” Strachan says. “It is unfair to have employees coming to work every day and not knowing what, where or if their job will be in a couple of years.”

McFadgen says the union will not be taking the government at its word that it does not intend any job losses through these closures. “We don’t often see restructuring of this magnitude that doesn’t involve loss of jobs and services,” she cautions. “And shifting emergency services to another hospital will not solve the problem of understaffed emergency rooms. How do we know this won’t just mean longer lines and longer waiting times?

“Closing hospitals and reducing services seems to be a trend with this government. Other hospitals in rural communities should also be concerned.”

CUPE represents about 4500 health care employees in NS, from Yarmouth to Sydney.