Sherbrooke is losing health services and social services due to austerity measures

SHERBROOKE, QC, Feb. 4, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - As part of the campaign "They're wrecking our services – Not on our watch!", several hundred angry demonstrators denounced the inhumane impact of austerity measures on the most vulnerable members of society, in front of Hôtel-Dieu du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS). In the face of government-imposed budget cuts, the CHUS and the CSSS - Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Sherbrooke are weakening Estrie's public health system by cutting jobs and reducing services.

"The CSSS-IUGS has just announced that it's eliminating the position of a social worker who's retiring. Who will do her work, which involves assessing seniors' needs for homecare services? In a number of areas including the local crisis hotline (Urgence-Détresse), the CSSS-IUGS is dropping its usual practice of replacing co-workers who are off sick. Who will be there to respond to people whose problems require rapid psycho-social intervention? Under these kinds of conditions, mounting pressure on members of personnel is pushing them to the point of exhaustion," APTS president Carolle Dubé explained.

The local APTS president at the CSSS-IUGS, Marie-Claude Besré, gave further details. "The wait time for the adult psycho-social follow-up program has risen from one month to three months. For people who are going through a bereavement or a separation or are experiencing depression, that feels like an eternity and inordinate suffering without the professional support they're entitled to receive."

A loss of comparable services is also seen in the rehabilitation sector. "The intensive functional rehabilitation unit has been closed," pointed out Rachel Lafrance, local APTS president at the CHUS, "and our members are reporting that patients are being released from hospital so quickly that physiotherapists and occupational therapists don't always have time to see them or plan their rehabilitation. It's not surprising that these patients often turn up again later in emergency."

"If we disregard basic needs in sensitive sectors like mental health, home care and rehabilitation, what will happen after the next budget -- with its fresh round of announced spending cuts -- and particularly after the mega mergers that Bill 10 has in store?" railed the APTS president.  

In the assessment of the APTS, Bill 10 will widen the gap between the people who run these institutions and the population they serve, without generating any real savings. "On one hand, these mega structures will inevitably create more bureaucracy and supervision. On the other, eliminating services now will mean greater expenses later on, as people who don't receive these services within a reasonable time frame will invariably come back through the E.R.," concluded Carolle Dubé.

In addition, when services are reduced in the public sector, inevitably there is an intensification of pressure on community organizations, which are not equipped to address needs that require professional intervention.

About the APTS

The APTS is a union representing 1,500 professionals and technicians at the CHUS and the CSSS-IUGS. They are part of the 32,000 Indispensable health and social services workers in Québec who are APTS members, and include medical technologists, recreation technicians, medical records archivists, technologists in medical imaging and medical electro-physiology, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, psycho-educators, physical rehabilitation therapists, social workers, psychologists, dietitian-nutritionists, spiritual care workers and dental hygienists.

SOURCE Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS)

For further information: Lise Brouillette, APTS political officer for Estrie, Cell: 514.608.4092

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