Bridgepoint Hospital must work with its union to develop a retraining plan for more than 200 personal service providers (PSPs) instead of just throwing them out the door, CUPE National President Paul Moist told a lunch-time rally today.
“These workers – mostly women – have dedicated themselves to providing the most basic, intimate personal care to Bridgepoint Hospital patients and now management has decided to simply get rid of them,” Moist said. “Many have the qualifications the hospital wants and should be allowed to move into new positions. Others should have access to the retraining that’s needed for those jobs.”
The alternative, according to Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman who responded to a question from MPP Peter Tabuns in the Legislature last week, is for the workers to move into home care or long-term where wages are significantly lower, often at poverty level, and benefits may not even exist.
“I cannot believe that Bridgepoint is prepared to throw workers who have years, if not decades, of experience on the trash heap,” said CUPE Local 79 President Ann Dembinski. “The hospital has not provided any evidence that replacing these workers with registered practical nurses (RPNs) will improve patient care.”
Dembinski questioned the wisdom of making a complete shift from PSPs, as they are called at Bridgepoint, to RPNs when health dollars are so tight and nurses are hard to find.
“The only way Bridgepoint can meet its plan to switch from PSPs to RPNs over 18 months is by paying much more in wages. Where are they getting the money? Where is the balanced care that can support patient needs with a mix of staff? And, how long will this new structure last,” she asked, noting that only 10 years ago the hospital made another wholesale change of staff by bringing in PSPs to replace nurses.