St. Francis Memorial makes major cuts to balance its budget

BARRY'S BAY, ON, April 1 /CNW/ - St. Francis Memorial Hospital in Barry's Bay is cutting front-line care positions and closing beds in order to eliminate an operating deficit.

The hospital is eliminating seven full-time registered practical nursing positions, reducing the hours of housekeeping, maintenance, food services and recreational programming.

It is also closing seven beds, reducing overall capacity for the community.

St. Francis also intends to increase revenues by introducing a fee for parking at the hospital.

These cuts follow an earlier closure of a CCAC clinic adjacent to the hospital.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has been told by hospital officials that no changes will be made to the plan despite a funding increase of 1.5 per cent in the March 25th provincial budget. The original plan was based on a funding freeze.

"The province had set a target for all hospitals to have 70 per cent full-time nursing staff," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000-member Ontario Public Service Employees Union. "Now St. Francis has precisely zero full-time RPNs on staff. Instead they will be replaced by less qualified personal support workers. It seems like every government priority from the past six years is going out the window in the name of budget cutting."

The union is concerned that most of its membership at the hospital is now working on a part-time basis.

OPSEU says that this may be just the start - the government has indicated in its throne speech that it intends to further restructure health care, bringing in changes that will disadvantage small and rural hospitals like St. Francis.

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: For further information: Rick Janson at (416) 525-3324


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