Lakeridge Social Workers and Respiratory Therapists Head to Arbitration Just as Hearing Looking into RN Staffing Issues Wraps up

OSHAWA, ON, April 8 /CNW/ - Social Workers and Registered Respiratory Therapists at Lakeridge Health are heading to arbitration on Monday to obtain a fair and equitable contract that respects the important work they do for their patients, just as an Independent Assessment Committee looks into RN staffing levels at the hospital's Oshawa inpatient surgical unit.

Approximately 100 Social Workers and Registered Respiratory Therapists, members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), have been without a contract since December 31, 2008. On April 11, 2011, they are heading to arbitration with well-respected arbitrator Kevin Burkett in hopes of reaching a settlement.

"Historically, the employer has paralleled ONA's hospital central collective agreement, but it reneged on all prior agreed-to items, including monetary items," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "It is unacceptable and extremely unfair that these health care professionals, who are essential to the overall care of the patients of Lakeridge Health, have been without a collective agreement for more than two years. It is a blatant lack of respect."

Lakeridge Social Workers help patients in all areas, including oncology, medical and pediatrics, overcome difficulties and improve their quality of life by providing information, referrals and counseling. Registered Respiratory Therapists are highly skilled practitioners of cardio-respiratory health care and disease management. They work at all four hospital sites.

While these members head to arbitration, a three-person Independent Assessment Committee concluded hearings yesterday into the concerns of Registered Nurses (RNs) at Lakeridge Health's Oshawa 36-bed inpatient surgical unit, who say staffing levels are inadequate for safe patient care. Since 2009, the RNs have been waiting for their employer to implement the "all-RN skills mix" for this unit, which the hospital itself identified was required, but multiple changes to Lakeridge Health's leadership team have been a major barrier to moving forward. The RNs believe the highly acute nature and the complex condition of patients in this unit mean they require the skills and knowledge that RNs possess. Research is clear that death and complications are reduced with higher RN staffing levels. The committee will discuss the issues and return with a report and recommendations for resolving them.

ONA is the union representing 55,000 front-line RNs, social workers, registered respiratory therapists, allied health professionals and more than 12,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Ruth Featherstone   (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267


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