Earlier this year we issued a freedom of information request to 20 sample hospitals where OPSEU represents health care workers to understand whether managers are in fact replacing front line health care workers.
Nine of 20 hospitals reported an increase in managers proportionate to front line staff over the past five years.
It’s a frequent complaint we hear.
While the requests were sent out in February, the information took much of the year to trickle in.
Resources are getting ever tighter in the hospital world – Ontario hospitals are experiencing no increase in their base budgets this year. How hospitals allocate their funding does matter.
Some hospitals actually reduced managers – at Kingston General Hospital, for example, managers dropped from 146 in 2008 to 125 in 2012. Staff has remained almost exactly the same over the past five years at 2,453. Other hospitals that dropped managers include the Chatham Kent Health Alliance, South Grey Bruce Health Care and the Windsor Regional Hospital.
Others show that our members were right.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Hawkesbury and District Hospital, Kingston General Hospital, Mackenzie Healthcare, Niagara Health System, Ontario Shores, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Ratio of management to front line staff, Royal Ottawa Group, The Ottawa Hospital, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Waypoint Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, York Central
In Windsor unionized Tim Hortons workers are being trashed for making a living wage at the Windsor Regional Hospital. The hospital owns three Tim Hortons franchises within its walls.
The argument goes, if the hospital cannot break even on these franchises, then it is the workers who must pay – not the customer who buys the coffees and donuts.
With the cost of benefits, workers are earning about $26 an hour, admittedly above the minimum wage many Tim Hortons franchises pay workers.
Certain members of the public are clamoring for a pay cut, although nobody bothers to mention the 8 per cent share of all sales that are paid to Tim Hortons as a contributing factor to the loss.
CCACs hire 144 direct care nurses
This month the government announced 900 new nursing positions to come from their 2007 commitment to 9,000 new nurses for the health system. Among them are 144 nurses who will go into the schools to support early identification and intervention of students with potential mental health and/or addictions issues. The nurses will assess and develop plans of care, provide direct service for mild cases, and offer support and referral for more complex issues. What’s particularly interesting about this initiative is these nurses will be working directly for the Community Care Access Centres, the first new hires to provide direct care since Bob Rae was in the Premier’s seat. When Mike Harris changed the NDP’s multi-service agencies into the CCACs, he insisted that a strict purchaser-provider split exist, hoping to divest all direct care workers to private agencies. He never entirely succeeded – OPSEU still represents CCAC home care therapists that were supposed to be divested by 1998. The fact that the government has placed these nurses into the employ of the CCAC is a hopeful sign that the terrible Harris-era competitive bidding process may quietly be coming to an end. While Deb Matthews publicly said competitive bidding would return, OPSEU members are telling us the agency contracts are all being extended again.
Merging surgical departments in Windsor
A zero base budget for hospitals is forcing many administrators to look at novel ways to make ends meet. In Windsor much has been made about Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s proposal for a very expensive mega-hospital, however, the two hospitals are looking at integration options that might save money in the meantime. Windsor Hotel Dieu is pushing for greater coordination of surgical departments with the Windsor Regional Hospital. Facing a $700,000 operating room budget deficit, Dieu is hoping costs could be saved by having the two hospitals move into even greater specialization than currently exists. Dieu presently specializes in trauma and neurosurgery while WRH does most of the pediatric surgeries. WRH CEO David Musyj told the Windsor Star he was cautious — concerned that Hotel Dieu’s financial problems could put more pressure on his 11 operating rooms.
Harper attacks Council of Canadians
Our friends at the Council of Canadians are under attack by the Harper government for encouraging Canadians to overturn elections of seven Tories elected in ridings involved in the so-called robocall scandal. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the Federal Tories hope to overturn lawsuits that seek new elections in the ridings. The Tories are basing their bid to throw out the lawsuits on an obscure and ancient legal prohibition against “champerty and maintenance,” which the Citizen describes as “meddling in another party’s lawsuit to share in the proceeds.” While the Council of Canadians would not stand to gain anything monetarily from the actions, the Tories highlight a Council fundraising campaign that notes the challenge among its work. Of course the Tories have no problems with right-wing organizations, many with American funding, helping to litigate against such left-wing institutions as Medicare. That includes the Canadian Constitution Foundation, an extreme right-wing group based in Alberta that supported Lindsay McCreith and Shona Holmes in their 2007 case intended to open up Ontario to two-tier private health insurance. While the CCF doesn’t say where their money comes from, they do specifically note on their website that they have charitable status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Like the Council of Canadians, the CCF lists its McCreith/Holmes case as among the worthy activities it undertakes to solicit donations.
Posted in CCAC, Home Care
Tagged 900 new nursing positions, Council of Canadians, David Musyj, Deb Matthews, Dwight Duncan, Lindsay McCreith, right wing advocacy groups, Shona Holmes, Windsor hospital merger, Windsor Hotel Dieu, Windsor Regional Hospital
While cancelling the new $136.8 million West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Grimsby, along with cuts to five other hospital projects across the province, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced a task force to look at building a new $1.5 billion regional hospital in his Windsor constituency.
The new super hospital would replace both Windsor Regional Hospital and Windsor Hotel Dieu. This is even though both hospitals have undergone recent additions, including a $91.6 million mental health facility at WRH and an $80 million cardiac care expansion at Hotel Dieu. Last year the government also approved a $60 million expansion of WRH’s ER and laboratory facilities – a project that wasn’t shelved as part of the McGuinty austerity budget.
Despite more than $230 million in new builds at the two hospitals – almost twice what it would cost to rebuild West Lincoln, Duncan estimates the Windsor hospitals will require another $1.8 billion in new capital projects to keep the two hospitals operating.
David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional, says both the buildings and the site are physically inadequate for what’s needed in the near future.
Now that hospitals are subject to Freedom of Information requests, how accessible will this information really be? It all depends on the hospital and how much money you have.
It cost us $1,637.76 to find out what the ratio of staff to management was at 20 hospital corporations. That includes the $5 processing fee it takes to initiate the request.
Hospitals came under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act on January 1st of this year, although the Ontario Hospital Association sought and received additional exemption from divulging quality information under specific circumstances.
For years we have heard front line staff complain that their numbers have dwindled while the ranks of management have increased. We decided to test that question with requests to 20 randomly selected hospitals where OPSEU represents members. This includes four mental health centres – Penetanguishene’s Waypoint Centre, Whitby’s Ontario Shores, London’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre (Regional Mental Health), and the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.
Posted in Health System, Hospitals
Tagged Bluewater Health, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, FIPPA, Freedom of Information, Grey Bruce Health Services, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hawkesbury and District Hospital, Health Sciences North, Hospital Freedom of Information, Kingston General Hospital, Niagara Health System, Ontario Shores, Peterborough Regional Health Centre, Quinte Health, Rouge Valley Health System, Royal Ottawa Health Group, South Bruce Grey Health Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences, Waypoint Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, York Central Hospital
Our friend David Musyj is mellowing.
The CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, once a vocal advocate for wage freezes, now says either freeze all wages or none at all.
Musyj told the Windsor Star that it’s a morale breaker when the government freezes wages for just one group.
He says the impact of extending the freeze will be negative because further penalizing this group for “political gain” is grossly unfair.
We agree. As public sector workers, it is a morale breaker to see calls for more austerity when our wage increases are already well below the private sector.
If you regularly read these pages, you’ll notice that we have been sounding the alarm for some time now about the surge capacity of hospitals.
If you have an average occupancy of 98 per cent, what happens when you have a bad flu season or there is a significant pandemic in the community? You can’t, as Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel recommends, turn it up to 11.
One of our favourite targets here at the Diablogue is Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj, who has a habit of blaming everyone but himself for his hospital’s ongoing woes.
Musyj is back in the media this week telling Windsor residents to think about going elsewhere after the holidays given his already clogged emergency room at the Metropolitan Campus is going to get worse.
The fact that the ER is clogged during a traditionally quieter time is “making us very concerned about what we’re going to see after the holidays,” Musyj told the Windsor Star.
Less you worry about your ability to get treated after that somewhat uncooked turkey, Musyj also says “there is nothing dramatic changing one way or another.” Huh?
Musyj says he will have extra beds to fill with those emergency patients, but doesn’t say where they are coming from.
Maybe it’s a slow news day in Windsor. Then again, it could be yet another early warning that cutting all those hospital beds over the last decade may have gone a little too far.