Category Archives: Public Health

Nurses reach tentative deal in Norfolk County

Public health nurses in Norfolk County are voting this afternoon on a tentative agreement that may end the first Ontario nursing strike in almost a decade.

The tentative deal to end the 12-day old strike was reached overnight with assistance of a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Labour.

“I want to again thank everyone in this community who showed such overwhelming support and respect for our nurses,” said Linda Haslam Stroud, president of the 59,000 member Ontario Nurses’ Association.

Hospital cuts jobs of speech language pathologists in absence of orderly transfer

OWEN SOUND – Grey Bruce Health Services has cut the jobs of seven speech language pathologists and assistants and is hoping they will apply for new jobs at the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

The hospital has issued a memo stating that they “were not successful in reaching a seamless transfer of the program” that helps children with speech problems.

Workers received notice of layoff March 31, 2011. Their final day will be August 31.

The Ministry of Children and Youth approved transfer of the service to the Grey Bruce Health Unit, but made no provision for the pathologists and their assistants.

“The lack of a transfer agreement likely stems from an attempt by the Health Unit to take on the work without paying the existing salaries and benefits of the displaced workers,” says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “This is a bald-faced attempt to save money on the backs of these workers.”

Whether the workers will migrate to the Health Unit is an open question given extreme shortages of speech language pathologists across the province.

Many may choose to take the severance from the hospital and work elsewhere.

The union is arguing the workers should be able to transfer with their rights intact, as have other displaced health care workers across the province.

“This is the health unit that can never get it right, so this is not entirely a surprise,” says Thomas. “And the gamble may backfire: If the health unit is unable to hire, parents may lose access to speech language pathology for their children.”

The Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act (PSLRTA) was introduced to facilitate a broad range of transfers within the health system. The Health Unit is arguing that they are outside the definition of a health provider and should not be subject to the legislation.

Images of breastfeeding okay by Vatican, but not Facebook

Posting images from her “Madonna and Child Series,” artist Kate Hansen has had her work taken down three times by Facebook. She has been warned that her account could be disabled if she persists. While Facebook considers images of breastfeeding to be obscene, the Vatican meanwhile has announced that it is putting on display centuries old paintings of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus at her breast. When contacted by the Toronto Star, Facebook suggested that the images were removed accidentally – three times. A group has been established on Facebook – “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene,” which has attracted 260,000 members. Facebook Moms are also holding a protest by posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding on their Facebook pages. The journal Pediatrics recently published a study suggesting that the US could save $13 billion and more than 900 newborn lives every year if women could be encouraged to breastfeed their children for more than six months.

OPSEU asks ombudsman to investigate Grey Bruce Health Unit

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has asked the Ontario ombudsman, Andre Marin, to investigate the Grey Bruce Health Unit’s operation and management.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit employees 107 program staff.

While front line staff are steadily declining, management positions have almost doubled from 18 to 35 positions.

The complaint followed the recent layoff of two tobacco youth advisor employees.

These cuts come at a time when the Hazel Lynn, Medical Officer of Health, has had her salary increased by $100,000, leading many to question the Health Unit’s sense of priority.

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has been the subject of controversy since its decision to consolidate operations in a new Owen Sound building dubbed by some as the “Taj Mahal by the water.”

The additional mortgage costs for the under-used building was roughly equal to the number of staff positions eliminated when the unit relocated.

During the H1N1 outbreak, local media questioned why residents from Walkerton and Southern Grey Bruce had to travel to Owen Sound to receive their vaccine. The Saugeen Times wrote in November: “Some would muse that this is another example of how the powers that be have become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the spiffy new Health Unit facility in Owen Sound and have become blinded to the reality of the mammoth size of Grey Bruce.”