For-Profit Nursing Home Management Demand Registered Nurse Cuts: Registered Nurses head to arbitration to preserve care for frail, elderly residents

TORONTO, Sept. 29, 2014 /CNW/ - Mediation between Ontario's 3,000 registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers and allied health professionals working in 168 for-profit nursing homes has ended following the private nursing homes' demand to gut nurse staffing for our residents.  

"Shareholder profit is clearly top of mind for nursing home owners, as they will not return to the table without an agreement to allow them to cut RN staff unchecked," says Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Our frail and elderly residents deserve better."

ONA, which represents the nurses and allied health professionals, had previously negotiated staffing language intended to ensure safe staffing levels in private nursing homes that reflect the acuity of the residents under their care. Employer negotiators have demanded that ONA agree to concessions that would allow RN cuts, to the detriment of residents.

"These private, for-profit nursing home owners have made clear that their agenda is to cut every registered nurse possible out of nursing homes, down to the government-legislated minimum," she says. "They are unwilling to provide appropriate registered nurse staffing, despite reams of evidence showing that more RNs mean safer, healthier long-term care residents."

Residents arriving at Ontario long-term care facilities are sicker than ever, often with multiple chronic health conditions. In addition, incidents of violence are increasing in long-term care as more seniors develop dementia. ONA and a number of health care groups have been supporting a call for a minimum care level in nursing homes of four worked hours of care per resident per day, including RN care.

Haslam-Stroud says that it's particularly ironic that the homes employers continue to push to gut RN staffing levels. The president of Extendicare – a multinational for-profit company with more than 400 nursing homes in Canada and the U.S. – is a participant of the Staffing Alliance for Every Resident (SAFER), an advocacy group that knows inadequate staffing levels are a barrier to preventing violence and improving care in our nursing homes. 

With the end of mediation, the two sides will now head to arbitration on October 22 and 23.

ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.                                  

SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, cell: (416) 986-8240, shereeb@ona.org; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369, melaniel@ona.org; Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses

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