Liberal M.P.P. faces protest over exploitation of nurses in renal program at Health Sciences North

SUDBURY, ON, Oct. 22, 2015 /CNW/ - Liberal MPP Glenn Thibeault will face a protest by nurses transferred to the renal program at Health Sciences North, on October 22 at 10 a.m. at his constituency office - Unit 4B, 555 Barrydowne Road Sudbury. Registered Practical Nurses (R.P.N.'s) whose positions were eliminated at Health Sciences North were transferred to the renal program, where their skills as nurses are still needed, but their status has been downgraded.

"Registered Practical Nurses are required by the College of Nurses of Ontario to maintain their standard of practice and to practice to the full extent of their skills, whatever their designation is," says Dave Shelefontiuk, president of CUPE Local 1623, which represents staff at the Sudbury hospital. "The Liberal government has put our hospital in a vice-like funding squeeze and one of the sad results is that the hospital is driven to exploit the skills of these highly trained and competent nurses.

Health Sciences North has cut beds,services and staff in the face of a 5-year funding freeze imposed by the provincial Liberal government. An Ontario's Auditor General's reports cites estimates that hospitals' costs increase by 5.8% annually, rising faster than inflation because of the soaring costs of drugs provided free to inpatients and medical technologies among other factors. Health Sciences North's budget was cut by over 20% in real terms in this 4-year period. Ontario hospitals were the most efficient hospitals in the country with the fewest beds and staff, shortest lengths of stay and lowest costs before the budget freeze.

"Health Sciences North has been pushed to exploit these nurses because of its underfunding" says Sharon Richer vice-president of CUPE local 1623. "R.P.N.'s will be expected to practice on the dialysis unit like nurses, but their status and pay have been downgraded. Psychologically this represents a demotion to women who work very hard and professionally to provide optimum patient care. We have asked the hospital to reconsider its decision. Today we are asking the Liberal government to fund our hospital properly to alleviate the problem at the root of this decision."

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Dave Shelefontiuk, President, C.U.P.E. Local 1623: 705-929-8457; Sharon Richer, Vice-president, C.U.P.E. Local 1623: 705-280-0911; Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications: 416-559-9300


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