With Ontario hospitals dealing with record staffing shortages and now a pandemic sixth COVID-19 wave, CUPE is raising serious concerns about North Bay Regional Health Centre’s (NBRHC) conflictual and costly approach to staffing stability and labour relations.
In 2022 alone the hospital has cut 4 per cent of the 900 member CUPE 139 bargaining unit. Twenty-three positions including in direct care, environmental cleaning and clerical eliminated outright while seventeen others were terminated. Another six terminations are pending. Workloads for those left behind in departments have increased. Overtime is at record levels as managers scramble to staff their departments.
Ontario has the fewest hospital staff to population of any province or country with a developed economy, “and cuts like these push things to the breaking point,” says Michael Hurley, the president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE).
On top of the front-line job cuts, the hospital is fueling a record number of grievances – 95 alone between the beginning of January and the first week in April. Last year there were 117 for the entire year.
CUPE 139 is very frustrated that its attempts to engage constructively with the hospital to resolve issues have been to no avail.
“The hospital should be trying to work with their staff and their unions to solve problems so that can keep as many front-line staff working taking care of patients. Conflictual labour relations are incomprehensible given how much the hospital staff in North Bay have stepped up during the pandemic and they are harmful to the teamwork that hospital care relies on. The hospital is spending money on lawyers and arbitrators when this money should be going on upstaffing and patient care. How much is this hospital spending to fight its front-line staff?” Asks Hurley.
CUPE, in partnership with SEIU Healthcare and Unifor has just launched a major advertising campaign focused on deteriorating conditions in our hospitals that hurt patients and staff.