Category Archives: Health Care Professionals

Ontario Shores: High number of nursing vacancies makes replacing child and youth workers almost impossible

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences may have difficulty finding enough nurses to replace the 28 Child and Youth Workers it gave layoff notices to in December.

The layoffs call into question the future of the Adolescent Resident Rehab program which cares for youth from across Ontario.

The Whitby psychiatric hospital has posted vacancies for six registered nurses and 12 registered practical nurses to replace the CYWs. This is on top of current vacancies for more than 57 nursing positions at the hospital. That means Ontario Shores is presently seeking to fill 75 nursing vacancies.

Given the 28 Child and Youth Workers are expected to work their last day by April 13th, it doesn’t give the hospital much time.

This is further complicated by a high level of turnover of nurses and other professionals at Ontario Shores – a situation some staff are describing as a crisis. While new nurses may arrive to begin filling the large numbers of vacancies, the hospital appears to be absent of a strategy to stop those they already employ from walking out the door. With too few professional staff, workload accelerates as does the level of burnout and frustration and further turnover.

Some nurses have confided to the CYWs that they don’t feel comfortable taking over their jobs. The training for an RN and RPN is very different from the three year program the Child and Youth workers graduate from. Come April, the future of the program may be in doubt.

Health Canada funds blueprint strategy for sustaining health professionals

Health Canada is funding a project through the Association of Canadian Community Colleges to develop a blueprint strategy to sustain the supply of allied health professionals.

NUPGE’s Canadian Health Professionals Secretariat had urged Health Canada to develop such a strategy after noting the growing shortages of health professionals across the country.

Allied health providers are defined as “highly skilled health professionals who delivery key diagnostic, therapeutic, rehabilitation, home care, long term care and other clinical services essential to sustaining an efficient and effective health care system.”

The ACCC says factor affecting that demand include changes in patient populations, advances in medical technology and knowledge, patterns of clinical practice and demographics within individual health professions.

To read more about the project, go to

Qualified individuals could claim up to $100 in class settlement

If you worked at an eligible hospital or health care provider in 1997 and paid LTD premiums, you may be eligible to receive up to $100 as part of a demutualization settlement – however you must act by Monday, October 18th.

Demutualization is a process by which a customer-owned mutual organization or co-operative changes legal form to a joint stock company. As part of that process, the customers involved are eligible for a payout as they relinquish that ownership.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is holding $22.5 million in demutualization proceeds in trust related to LTD premiums paid into the OHA plan before December 29, 1997. OPSEU participated with several other health care unions to obtain this settlement.

For those that continue to work for the same employer, you will receive your benefit in the form of a premium holiday on your LTD coverage. You do not need to do anything.

For those who may have changed employers, retired, presently work for an employer that pays 100 per cent of LTD premiums, or who may have been affected by amalgamation into a larger hospital system, you may be eligible to receive a cheque for as much as $100. You may also claim on behalf of a deceased member of the plan.

A list of eligible workplaces is available on-line. See:

If you are unsure, it is recommended that you still apply by the October 18 deadline.

For more information, go to:

The OHA, Ministry need to do better for Pharmacy Technicians

The Ontario Hospital Association spends much time discussing its HR needs. However, when it comes to assisting existing Pharmacy Technicians to re-qualify for their jobs under the amended Regulated Health Professions Act, the OHA has been missing in action.

OPSEU met with the OHA in June to try and persuade them to take a consistent approach to helping these workers through the bridging program necessary to qualify them in time for the 2015 deadline.

The OHA has instead left it up to individual hospitals to decide on how they will assist their pharmacy technicians. That will likely mean well-resourced hospitals will be on solid ground by 2015, leaving others to scramble for qualified staff.

Existing pharmacy technicians will be required to take four courses, pass an extensive qualifying exam, and then take a jurisprudence exam. The process takes considerable time and can cost the individual thousands of dollars in course and exam fees. How much these fees are supported by hospitals varies dramatically, as do opportunities to sit for the classes and take the exams.

The Ontario College of Pharmacists will permit working pharmacy techs to forgo some of these courses through a prior learning assessment process. However, the techs will have to sit for a “challenge” exam to demonstrate their knowledge.

Bringing the pharmacy technicians under the act will bring more accountability to the profession, however, Ontario may eventually face shortages of qualified techs if there isn’t adequate support. For many experienced pharmacy techs, balancing work, family, and this re-qualifying process will be a challenge.

It shouldn’t come down to the luck of the draw – whether one is at a hospital with resources or without. The Ministry should work with the OHA and Healthforce Ontario to assist experienced pharmacy techs to come through this process as seamlessly as possible. It’s in everybody’s best interests to do so.

In Brief: Defending Medicare, funding a hospital, and voting for a favourite doctor

As voters go to the polls in the Toronto Centre by-election, the Ontario government has pledged $15 million to save the Toronto Grace Health Centre. With new money in hand, the Salvation Army reversed its decision to cease operating the aging facility. The NDP have made hospital funding a core issue in the byelection. Curiously, Health Minister Deb Matthews said “we have not let a hospital close under our watch and I can assure you we would not let the Grace.” Fort Erie, Port Colborne and Shelburne may beg to differ. … Ontario is rebuilding 4,183 existing beds and updating facilities at 37 long-term care homes. The government has pledged to redevelop 35,000 older beds in a decade-long plan. Now if they would only fund adequate staff to provide the care. … The Ontario Health Coalition is urging members to vote for Dr. Gordon Guyatt for the British Medical Journal’s life-time achievement award. For 30 years Guyatt has been a leading advocate for universal, publicly funded health care. You can vote at . … Dr. Michael Rachlis defends Canadian heart care as “good as the best centres in the U.S.” in an opinion piece in today’s Toronto Star. U.S. Medicare critics have jumped on Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams for seeking heart surgery in their country, claiming this was evidence of Canadian Medicare’s inadequacy. Rachlis points out that very few Canadians seek such surgery in the U.S., while Americans are known to come to Toronto for valve surgery, for which the city is world famous. A 2002 study by American and Canadian academics found that one out of 500 Canadian hospitalizations occurred in the U.S. and 80 per cent of these were for pregnancy-related conditions – women going into labour while travelling. Another 10 per cent were for other emergency conditions, meaning about one in 5,000 Canadian hospitalizations in the U.S. were for patients deliberately seeking elective care, like Williams. To read the full article, go to–medicare-attack-dogs-barking-up-wrong-tree

Cutting jobs while stimulating the economy makes no sense — OPSEU

Some recent postings on our main OPSEU site —

Closure of the Windsor public health lab makes no sense when the province is spending billions to stimulate the economy. See President Warren (Smokey) Thomas’ letter to Finance Minister (and Windsor-area MPP) Dwight Duncan at

OPSEU writes to the Central West LHIN urging them to stop plans to effectively close the Shelburne Hospital. See the union’s letter at

Startling new data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information indicates health care may be sustainable — but tax cuts aren’t. See the President’s message at

New HR planning tool developed for occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech-language pathology services

With health budgets steadily diminishing, little consideration is given to patient and population health needs in workforce planning.

Too often planning is based on the status quo despite reports of increased numbers of patients with complex health issues.

To that end, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) and the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) have partnered to develop an Interprofessional Caseload Management Tool.

Funded by Health Canada, the Tool will be designed to assist individual professionals, organizations and policy makers in determining effective caseload/workload management for occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech-language pathology services.

The Tool is currently under review. When complete it will be piloted nationally in all three professions.

For more information, got to