Ontario Nurses' Association going to arbitration to halt RN layoffs: ONA says Toronto East General layoffs are a threat to patient safety

    TORONTO, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the union
representing 54,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, is
going to arbitration this week to try to stop the layoffs of registered nurses
at Toronto East General Hospital - layoffs ONA believes will result in a
deterioration of patient care.
    "Laying off 36 patient care coordinators and replacing these skilled RNs
with supervisors, as the hospital is seeking to do, will threaten patient care
at East General," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "This is another
example of hospitals trying to save money on the backs of registered nurses -
and patient safety."
    Haslam-Stroud notes that other hospitals have experimented with the new
model of care - called the Coordinated Care Team Project - that Toronto East
General plans use. These facilities are now going back to staffing up with
RNs. For instance, Bridgepoint Health used this new model and found that
decreasing the number of nurses increased patient risks. They are now
replacing personal support workers with nurses.
    To date, Toronto East General has issued six layoff notices to RNs on its
medical, surgical and transitional care units. Fewer RNs will result in
increased morbidity (complications) and mortality (death) rates for patients,
as proven repeatedly in studies conducted in North America in the past few
    The hospital plans to replace RN Patient Care Coordinators with some
supervisors and increase the number of registered practical nurses and
personal support workers, eliminating the breadth of experience, education and
skills that RNs bring. Toronto East General has no plan in place to evaluate
the safety of its new model of patient care.
    "Reducing the number of RNs through layoffs and by failing to fill
vacancies is counterintuitive during a nursing shortage, such as Ontario is
experiencing now," says Haslam-Stroud. "Our patients need and deserve the
quality patient care that RNs provide."

    ONA is the union representing 54,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health,
the community, clinics 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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