Retrain, don't trash Bridgepoint Hospital support workers, CUPE president tells rally

    TORONTO, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Bridgepoint Hospital must work with its
union to develop a retraining plan for more than 200 personal service
providers (PSPs) instead of just throwing them out the door, CUPE National
President Paul Moist told a lunch-time rally today.
    "These workers - mostly women - have dedicated themselves to providing
the most basic, intimate personal care to Bridgepoint Hospital patients and
now management has decided to simply get rid of them," Moist said. "Many have
the qualifications the hospital wants and should be allowed to move into new
positions. Others should have access to the retraining that's needed for those
    The alternative, according to Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman
who responded to a question from MPP Peter Tabuns in the Legislature last
week, is for the workers to move into home care or long-term where wages are
significantly lower, often at poverty level, and benefits may not even exist.
    "I cannot believe that Bridgepoint is prepared to throw workers who have
years, if not decades, of experience on the trash heap," said CUPE Local 79
President Ann Dembinski. "The hospital has not provided any evidence that
replacing these workers with registered practical nurses (RPNs) will improve
patient care."
    Dembinski questioned the wisdom of making a complete shift from PSPs, as
they are called at Bridgepoint, to RPNs when health dollars are so tight and
nurses are hard to find.
    "The only way Bridgepoint can meet its plan to switch from PSPs to RPNs
over 18 months is by paying much more in wages. Where are they getting the
money? Where is the balanced care that can support patient needs with a mix of
staff? And, how long will this new structure last," she asked, noting that
only 10 years ago the hospital made another wholesale change of staff by
bringing in PSPs to replace nurses.

For further information:

For further information: Ann Dembinski, President, CUPE Local 79, (416)
977-1629; Pat Daley, CUPE Communications, (416) 616-6142

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