Ontario Nurses' Association Approves Censure of Hamilton Health Sciences

HAMILTON, ON, Nov. 17 /CNW/ - The Board of Directors of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has agreed to the request of registered nurses employed by Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation (HHSC) to censure their employer.

"The 2,600 registered nurses at Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation ONA Local 70 have expressed grave concerns about the deterioration in labour relations and the impact this has had on their work environment," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Censuring is a rare but serious step that is taken only when ONA and its members believe that it's the only avenue left to them to send the message that poor labour relations and administrative practices are having a negative impact on staff and patient care. Only one other hospital in the province is censured. These nurses believe that they are working in a toxic environment that is interfering with their ability to focus on patient care."

Bargaining Unit President Pat MacDonald, RN, says the nurses at HHSC did not make the decision to request a censure "either lightly or without a lot of consideration. Relations between HHSC and ONA's registered nurses have been declining for more than five years and efforts to resolve issues with the CEO and senior management team have failed."

Among the major issues for the registered nurses members are:

        -  The continued disrespectful treatment of disabled and ill
           registered nurses by a firm contracted by HHSC, despite
           arbitration awards finding fault and mismanagement of nurses'

        -  Repeated challenges to past practices and well-established
           interpretations of the collective agreement, leading to multiple

        -  A decline in responsiveness and information-sharing with the
           nurses representative at Joint Health & Safety Committee meetings

        -  such as the suspension of N95 respirator fit-testing of staff in
           the midst of the flu pandemic.

        -  A trend for HHSC to deny information to ONA labour relations
           officers and send grievances to arbitration, rather than try to
           discuss them at an early stage, saving both time and taxpayers'
           dollars that could be better spent on patient care.

        -  Repeated clear violations of the collective agreement - including
           the recent layoff grievance, where the arbitrator upheld the
           registered nurses' rights under the collective agreement.

"We hope that relations with Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation haven't deteriorated to the point where the situation is irreparable," says MacDonald. "Our registered nurses are determined to do whatever it takes to improve the relationship but we need management to work with us and be part of the solution. We hope that censuring HHS impresses on the organization that this is an extremely serious situation that has to be rectified."

The censure means that Canadian nursing schools, nursing organizations, nursing unions, colleges and universities are asked to inform prospective professionals about this employer's activities. ONA urges potential employees to refuse employment at HHSC until the issues have been satisfactorily resolved and the censure has been lifted.

ONA is the union representing 55,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals and more than 12,000 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: For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369; Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, cell: (416) 986-8240

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