Chesley hospital used as example in report

TORONTO – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) was recently awarded an 11 per cent salary increase in arbitration.

The announcement on July 20 of the arbitration decision by William Kaplan, includes what the ONA website called “the most significant pay raise for its more than 65,000 hospital sector registered nurses and health-care professionals in decades.” 

The decision provides average wage increases of 11 per cent over two years.

ONA President Erin Ariss said in an ONA press release that “this decision is a first step to righting past wrongs, and bringing hospitals nurses’ compensation up to where it should be. In his decision, Kaplan explicitly recognizes that improving wages is among the best ways to recruit and retain desperately needed nurses and begin to fix the nursing shortage.”

The South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) – Chesley site was singled out in the arbitration report as “a typical example in ONA’s view of a pervasive system-wide situation – issued by the South Bruce Grey Health Centre Chesley hospital site announcing an eight-week emergency room closure due to a critical shortage of nurses.”

Two segments taken from the time of the eight-week closure were quoted in the arbitration decision: “There have been multiple times over the last three weeks where the ED had to close for several full days on short notice due to the overall shortage of nurses,” and “In order to keep services operational, SBGHC has relied on the use of agency nurses to fill vacant shifts. This approach is not an ideal or preferred solution, as agency nurses are costly and not committed to our hospital sites. In addition, our nurses do not feel valued when the agency nurses are making more money for doing the same work. SBGHC would much rather be putting the extra cost spent on agency nurses into the pockets of our own staff, who have worked tirelessly to support our organization and our communities. The unfortunate reality is that without using agency nurses at this time, the organization would be looking at additional closures and reductions. Active recruitment continues for nurses to come and work at SBGHC; however, the pool of available nurses is very limited in the current environment across the province.”

Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody commented that the decision is significant in that it used Chesley, of all the hospitals in the province, as an example of the impact of the province’s decision to freeze wages. 

“Our advocacy put that issue in the forefront,” Peabody said. That ruling of an 11 per cent pay increase “shows what our local advocacy can do.”

By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 28, 2023 at 07:00

This item reprinted with permission from   The Herald-Times   Walkerton, Ontario
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