Ontario Nurses' Association Challenges Rouge Valley Lay-Offs: Nurses' Union Files for Judicial Review of Board Cuts



    TORONTO, June 25 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association's (ONA), the
union representing 54,000 front-line nurses and allied health professionals,
has filed an application for judicial review of the decision made by Rouge
Valley Health System's board of directors to close its in-patient mental
health facilities at Rouge Valley Ajax Pickering Hospital and eliminate 220
union staff positions - including 72 registered nurses - over the next three
years.
    "Rouge Valley Health System has unilaterally decided to close beds and
lay off registered nurses," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN,
"without consulting its fiscal advisory committee. We believe the hospital has
failed to follow its obligations under the Public Hospitals Act to consult
with the committee and allow it to provide recommendations regarding
operations and staffing."
    Regulation 965 of the Public Hospitals Act obliges each hospital to
create a fiscal advisory committee (FAC) including at least one staff nurse to
provide recommendations to the board regarding the operation, use and staffing
of the hospital. The courts have previously held that the purpose of these
provisions is to give staff nurses a greater voice in hospital management, as
well as to bring cooperation between nursing organizations and hospital
management.
    While one meeting of Rouge Valley's FAC was held in 2007, at no time
during the meeting was there a review of the decision to cut staff and alter
services. The FAC was not given the necessary information to make
recommendations to the board regarding those decisions. ONA asserts that the
hospital is therefore in violation with the Public Hospitals Act and is asking
that the decision to close the mental health beds at Ajax-Pickering and lay
off RNs be quashed until the FAC can review the circumstances of the deficit
and give informed and meaningful recommendations to the hospital board. A
September 19 court date has been set.
    "The hospital is facing a deficit of $78 million," notes Haslam-Stroud.
"It has failed in its obligation to consult its own FAC and has instead
slashed its nursing staff with no input from staff nurses on the committee.
The FAC is in place for a reason, and we believe the hospital board proceeded
without statutory authority in approving these closures and cuts without first
consulting it."
    Forty-seven registered nurses received lay-off notices from the hospital
on May 15 - during Nursing Week celebrations. Though the hospital maintains
that patient care and services won't be affected, RNs are expressing serious
concern about the impact on both patients and the nurses remaining.

    ONA members work in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public
health, the community and industry. ONA is celebrating 35 years of nursing
advocacy - a proud past, a powerful future.





For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2430, Cellular: (416) 986-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2369


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