Union says HHS plans to elim­i­nate 80 jobs

‘The com­mu­nity will not stand by’ while hos­pi­tals are gut­ted, says CUPE of­fi­cial Michael Hur­ley

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - JOANNA FRKETICH jfr­ketich@thes­pec.com 905-526-3349 | @Jfr­ketich

The Cana­dian Union of Pub­lic Em­ploy­ees claims Hamil­ton Health Sciences is look­ing to cut dozens of jobs in the fis­cal year end­ing March 31.

The hos­pi­tal net­work has to re­duce costs by $20 mil­lion to bal­ance the books by March 31, start­ing with the im­me­di­ate de­par­ture of three se­nior ex­ec­u­tives.

One of the strate­gies be­ing con­sid­ered is elim­i­nat­ing roughly 80 CUPE jobs, said Dave Mur­phy, pres­i­dent of Lo­cal 7800.

He said some of the jobs are al­ready va­cant and af­fected staff will likely be of­fered other po­si­tions at HHS.

“There is no ques­tion that beds and staff will have to be cut,” Mur­phy said.

CEO Rob MacIsaac was not avail­able for com­ment Thurs­day.

HHS planned to cut nearly 100 full-time jobs last fis­cal year when it needed to find $30 mil­lion in cost re­duc­tions to bal­ance its roughly $1.2-bil­lion bud­get.

At the same time, St. Joseph’s es­ti­mated it would have to elim­i­nate 136 jobs to cut $26 mil­lion from its $550-mil­lion bud­get.

This fis­cal year, St. Joseph’s is look­ing find $7 mil­lion in sav­ings.

“The com­mu­nity will not stand by while the gov­ern­ment guts these hos­pi­tals,” said Michael Hur­ley, pres­i­dent of CUPE’s On­tario Coun­cil of Hos­pi­tal Unions.

“We will cer­tainly do ev­ery­thing in our power to or­ga­nize sup­port for a spe­cial in­fu­sion of fund­ing.”

HHS is un­der­go­ing an op­er­a­tional re­view to de­ter­mine how to cope with se­vere over­crowd­ing and in­fla­tion driv­ing the an­nual fund­ing shortfall.

In ad­di­tion, Mark Ha­ley, a for­mer chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer at McMaster Univer­sity, is be­ing brought in for six months to make rec­om­men­da­tions.

No in­for­ma­tion was avail­able Thurs­day on how much the op­er­a­tional re­view and hu­man re­sources depart­ment as­sess­ment would cost HHS.

How­ever, Ha­ley was paid $284,000 in to­tal com­pen­sa­tion when he did a sim­i­lar re­view for Al­berta Health Ser­vices four years ago.

His pay from Au­gust 2013 to De­cem­ber 2013 worked out to roughly $56,800 a month.

It’s also un­known so far whether any of the three de­part­ing ex­ec­u­tives will re­ceive sev­er­ance pay­ments.

Their con­tracts signed in 2014 out­line a min­i­mum of one year’s salary plus four weeks for each com­plete year. The com­bined max­i­mum is 104 weeks.

The base salary of the ex­ec­u­tives is $345,000 for Re­nato Dis­cenza, $260,000 for Frank Naus and $200,000 for An­drew Dop­pler.

On­tario Health Min­is­ter Dr. Eric Hoskins said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day he ex­pects “ser­vice to pa­tients will not be im­pacted by any bud­get de­ci­sions.”

But op­po­si­tion MPPs and Mur­phy said that is not a re­al­is­tic view as Hamil­ton’s hos­pi­tals look to cut costs.

“Hos­pi­tals can only cut so much with­out cut­ting pa­tients’ ser­vices,” said Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive health critic Jeff Yurek. “It’s the sixth or sev­enth year hos­pi­tals have had to make cuts.”

On­tario’s hos­pi­tals en­dured four years of bud­get freezes by the prov­ince and two years of in­creases be­low in­fla­tion.

HHS alone has al­ready cut costs by $120 mil­lion since 2011.

“We know it’s al­ready af­fect­ing pa­tient care,” said NDP Hamil­ton Moun­tain MPP Monique Tay­lor. “More cuts are def­i­nitely go­ing to fur­ther im­pact pa­tient ser­vices.”

HHS and St. Joseph’s blame much of the shortfall on hos­pi­tal over­crowd­ing, which is forc­ing them to open un­funded beds. On av­er­age, 80 to 100 un­funded beds op­er­ate each day be­tween Hamil­ton Gen­eral and Ju­ravin­ski hos­pi­tals and 25 at the Charl­ton Av­enue East site at St. Joseph’s.

HHS was at nearly 110 per cent oc­cu­pancy on Tues­day and has av­er­aged 105 per cent since Oc­to­ber.

A big part of the prob­lem is pa­tients stuck in hos­pi­tal while wait­ing for other ser­vices like home care or long-term care. Nearly one in four beds was taken up by pa­tients ready to be dis­charged at St. Joseph’s hos­pi­tal dur­ing the week of July 10.

Nearly one in five beds is cur­rently blocked at HHS.

Eric Hoskins: Pa­tients not af­fected

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