Budget cuts affect quality of care, staffing levels

Residents at four Nova Scotia nursing homes are facing reduced care due to staff cuts at Melville Lodge in Halifax, Gables Lodge in Amherst, Whitehills in Hammonds Plains and the Admiral in Dartmouth, which are operated by GEM Health Care Group. Workers received notice of layoffs, or reduced hours of work, last week at the four nursing homes.

The layoffs are the result of $6.7 million in budget cuts to long-term care announced by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.

“This is a very worrying time for our members working in nursing homes across the province,” says CUPE Representative Kathy MacLeod. “They are also frustrated by the impact these cuts are having on the residents they care for.”

“Operational costs like utilities and interest payments don’t change and still need to be paid. These cuts are forcing administrators to find other ways of reducing costs,” says CUPE Long-Term Care Committee Chair Louise Riley.

“In addition to the staffing cuts, our members are seeing changes to less expensive supplies, such as changing garbage bags used to a lesser brand and changing personal care incontinence systems from briefs to a two-piece system for all residents that is much cheaper,” says Riley.

Staff at the Port Hawkesbury Nursing Home received similar notices in early August. More staffing reductions are anticipated at other nursing homes in Nova Scotia. CUPE long-term care workers across the province will continue to campaign to stop the cuts.

CUPE members, and anyone with a loved one residing in a nursing home, are also encouraged to contact their MLA and ask them to oppose these cuts to long-term care.