Tag Archives: Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Something is off this December — we’re ditching the parties for placards

Something is definitely off this holiday season. Instead of being invited to the usual round of parties, we’re getting invitations to demonstrations and press conferences. Instead of decking the halls we’re decorating placards.

How oblivious Health Minister Deb Matthews is to this growing unrest is hard to tell, although the recent revelation that she never read the ORNGE audit suggests a shocking disengagement that likely extends well beyond that scandal.

Today in Arnprior staff at the local hospital will be marching to protest ongoing shrinking services. A few more physiotherapy hours to be lost in January, some x-ray… this is the hospital that decided to totally do away with personal care workers (PSWs) as it sheds staff to balance its frozen budget. This slow striptease of staff has a way to go if the government thinks it can continue on this road to at least 2018.

Today is also the day that VON PSWs in Grey-Bruce Counties go back to the bargaining table in a last attempt to avoid job action. One of the workers pointed out that a staffing agency is advertising on Kijiji for temporary PSWs. Is the VON or Red Cross Care Partners – also in a strike countdown – contemplating hiring strike breakers, or are the more affluent residents of this community seeking some interim help should all hell break loose? The classified ad says the employment agency is willing to negotiate wages, something that so far their real employers don’t seem willing to do.

We went through a similar countdown last week with Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addictions Services in Kingston. They are supposed to represent this brave new world of improved community-based services that Matthews has been selling, but their agency’s base budget has been cut. In the end the workers got enough for their bargaining team to recommend a deal – it has yet to be ratified. This is one of the agencies that’s supposed to pick up the slack from 60 full-time equivalent jobs departing the local psychiatric hospital. That’s clearly not happening.

Next week we are travelling to London not for eggnog, but to talk to more mental health workers who have seen their clients similarly betrayed by this phoney health transformation.

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Today’s austerity will be tomorrow’s professional shortage

During the November meeting of the Canadian Health Professional Secretariat, our colleagues in British Columbia let us know that they are seeing increasing numbers of health professionals migrate there from Ontario.

It’s not surprising given austerity appears to be biting very hard here – and its not just in the hospital sector.

We’ve noticed that despite incredible organizing success, our overall health care membership has not grown within the last six months. This confirms the view from BC that our health care professionals and skilled support are departing to where the jobs are.

There have been numerous high profile cases where hospitals have unloaded significant numbers of staff – we reported earlier this year that about 290 full-time equivalent jobs were leaving The Ottawa Hospital. Similarly, The Scarborough Hospital has been in the spotlight for shedding jobs and services. Even smaller centers, such as the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital has lost significant employment for health professionals and support staff.

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