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 Hospital Professionals

The Hospital  Professionals Division Newsletter
March 18, 2005
OPSEU campaign targets layoffs, LHINS

This winter, OPSEU’s Executive Board devoted $500,000 to continue our campaign to target the Liberal government’s transformation agenda. OPSEU believes the government’s actions are creating chaos across the health system.

Print (right), transit (below) and radio ads ran in many communities beginning in January. The entire advertising campaign can be found at www.opseu.org (click on LHIN Emergency: Health Care Chaos). Three members from OPSEU’s health care sectors were booked off to work on the campaign. Membership meetings were held across the province during February and March. A petition to local MPPs is being circulated, and MPPs are being lobbied.

OPSEU members will also be setting up meetings with the soon-to-be-appointed LHIN boards. It is critical that our issues are front and centre in the development of LHIN Action Plans (to be finished by Oct. 2005). If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Barb Linds, OPSEU Campaigns ( blinds@opseu.org ).

OHC will be mobilizing with local coalitions and has recommended that local coalitions set up shadow” LHIN boards around the province to monitor the work of the LHINs, as well as to lobby for a democratic and accountable process and for the maintenance of the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Update on Ministry planning:

How has the LHIN project evolved? In Nov.-Dec. 2004, LHIN Community Workshops were held across the province. Each workshop identified five “patient care” and five “administrative” integration priorities for their LHIN. Integration Priority Reports were submitted to the ministry in February, and are now posted on the LHIN website ( www.prioritysetting.ca  – password LHIN). Ministry bulletins about LHINs as part of the government’s health transformation can be found on the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care website at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/transformation/lhin 

The planning reports will be available to the inaugural LHIN board meetings in April, so they can start their planning initiatives. Their first task will be planning and community engagement. They are to have their action plans done by October 2005.

The ministry is also doing an analysis of common functions across the province to identify issues for planning and implementation .

District Health Councils will wrap up March 31, 2005, and DHC staff will be laid off then. For more than 25 years, DHCs have been responsible for planning for their local areas and for advising the MOHLTC.

The ministry has recruited CEOs for the LHINs, and will be appointing a chair and, initially, two members of the board (there will be nine board members at full complement). The LHIN boards will be bound by performance agreements with the ministry.

The ministry has indicated that it will be developing a community process to nominate some board positions, and that CEOs will eventually be appointed by government.

LHINs will be incorporated under the Corporations Act. The ministry itself will be restructuring as well, as part of the “transformation agenda”, and will:

· be responsible for provincial policies and standards

· ensure overall funding formula

· have responsibility for legislation

· ensure access, equity, standardization and consistency across the province

The ministry says it will respect and support local governance of health delivery organizations, and that LHINs will not directly provide services.

LHINs will have the funding and will allocate money to organizations, and will hold performance agreements with organizations. The time frame for LHINs to have funding responsibilities is unknown, although the ministry has said it would like to have the funding flow through the LHINs as soon as possible. The government needs to create a new funding formula to do this.

The primary focus for LHINs will be integration of services. Integration as a result of LHIN directives is some time away, but integration projects are going on anyway. One example is the Business Office Transformation project. Hume Martin, CEO of Rouge Valley (one of the participating hospitals in Hospital Business Services) said that once the project is up and running, the company will offer their services to other partners, both within health care and beyond.

We may be looking at the consolidation of all service and support functions, such as major food production and service warehousing, and purchasing activities, with the result that all health care providers are served by 5 - 6 warehouses in the province. There are many unanswered questions and many issues that need to be addressed.

Governance: We believe that, for LHIN boards to be truly accountable to their communities, they should be elected, not appointed.

Competitive Bidding: Will the LHINs be the planner/funder, or will they be the planner/purchaser, such as in Britain? Will the government’s managed competition in home care be expanded to include all health services? It is our position that competitive bidding must be stopped in home care and must not be implemented by LHINs for any part of health care.

Human resources and labour adjustment: The OHA recently announced that the Provincial Health Human Resources Strategic Advisory Group has targeted the end of June for the release of a preliminary report and discussion paper timed to coincide with the LHIN start-up and integrated health services planning activities.

Gail Paech, answering a question about Human Resource issues at the January 12-13 meeting of LHIN planning committee members, indicated that the ministry would be hiring an Assistant Deputy Ministry to develop an HR strategy for the province. She also said there will be the same HR policies across the LHINs.

It is our position that:

· Local Health Integration Networks should follow the pattern in all other provinces where regionalization has taken place, with provincial collective agreements covering all health care employees.

· There should be a moratorium on layoffs during the transition to LHINs.

· There must be a government mandated, provincial table with the major health care unions and employer organizations to negotiate a provincial human resource adjustment plan to minimize the adverse impacts of restructuring and regionalization on health care workers.

· Employees transferring between health care agencies need to be kept whole. This includes allowing them to keep their existing collective agreements and bargaining agents, as well as their existing pension.

· Wages and benefits for health care workers working in hospitals and in the community must be fair and consistent.

This position is supported by the Integration Planning Report in Toronto:

“The success of the transformation agenda is dependent in part on the stability of the health care workforce. Accordingly there must be comprehensive and enforceable provincial employment adjustment plan. Priority 1 – the establishment of a collaborative and comprehensive HR planning process amongst Toronto Central LHIN partners with linkage to a Provincial Health Human Resource planning process. This strategy will ensure the right provider is providing the right care at the right time. The LHIN workforce will have wage parity, transferability, opportunities for skill development or enhancement.”

OPSEU negotiates SARS agreement at The Scarborough Hospital

The SARS crisis of 2004 was an emotional and traumatic time in the lives of hospital workers across Ontario. No more so than at The Scarborough Hospital, where OPSEU members fought for their lives and then fought for fair compensation from their employer.

On Feb. 2, 2005, a settlement was reached with The Scarborough Hospital regarding the SARS Premium Grievance.

The agreement was negotiated by staff negotiator Mary Ellen Cassey, on behalf of Local 575 (HPD) and Local 581 (Sector 11, Health Care Support).

The following are the highlights of the agreement of settlement:

* At no time did OPSEU agree to differential wage increases for some members, rather that OPSEU took the position that any increases had to be paid to all members of the bargaining unit.

* The Hospital acknowledges that wages are a key issue that have to be negotiated with OPSEU.

* The Hospital acknowledges a violation of the CAs for failing to negotiate wage increases and other enhancements with OPSEU.

* The Board makes the following orders:

The Hospital is to henceforth cease and desist in negotiating directly with members of the bargaining units regarding terms and conditions of employment.

The Hospital is to henceforth cease and desist in extending to bargaining unit members without prior agreement with OPSEU extra compensation.

The monetary remedy will be paid as follows forthwith:

The Hospital will pay OPSEU in the sum of $8000.00

The Hospital will pay Local 575 the sum of $5607.38

The Hospital will pay Local 581 the sum of $6392.62

( Total= $20,000).

Safety Engineered Medical Devices campaign launched

By Frank Pezzutto

OPSEU, along with SEIU and ONA, is participating in a campaign to promote safety engineered medical devices. President Leah Casselman and Frank Pezzutto attended a media conference to launch the campaign March 10, at Queen’s Park.

Safety engineered medical devices (SEMD) have been proven to reduce needle stick injuries. A needlesticks and sharps safety and prevention package is available from the OPSEU Health and Safety. This package contains the following information:

· A prevention handbook to educate OPSEU members on the procedures that should be taken to prevent needlestick and sharps injuries.

· A pamphlet on protecting yourself from needlestick injuries.

· A pamphlet on the responsibility for establishing safety measures and procedures.

· A comprehensive blood and body fluids best practices program from the Vancouver Island Health Authority on exposure controls for blood and body fluids.

This information package was sent to all locals and can be obtained by calling the OPSEU Health and Safety Department at 1-800-268-7376 or 1-416-443-8888.

We are now trying to negotiate SEMD into our contracts at the local level. There is no legislation in Ontario on mandatory use of SEMDs though private legislation has been introduced by Shelley Martel, MPP. Saskatchewan and Manitoba have both committed to implement legislation this year and Nova Scotia is now considering legislation as well.

If you have concerns on needlestick injuries and your employer refuses to implement a sharps injury program, exercise your legal rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Call the Ministry of Labour (MOL) and make a formal complaint that despite attempts by the union at the Joint Health and Safety Committee, the employer will not take reasonable actions to prevent sharps injuries. Remember, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer cannot take reprisals against you for exercising your rights under the OHSA.

In the past year, MOL inspectors visited all of the acute care hospitals in the province and frequently wrote orders requiring employers to institute programs to reduce sharps injuries. Although the inspectors did not always specifically require the employer to introduce SEMDs hospital-wide, they did require them to perform risk assessments and to take precautions to reduce injuries.

Laid off members: Take advantage of job registry

By Margaret Rafter

The central collective agreement provides a little known, but potentially powerful tool we should all use and enforce for our members especially in light of the current climate of job losses and balanced budgets.

This article obliges the employer to register all job vacancies at the central repository when they post a job at the hospitals. In the absence of a successful internal applicant, an OPSEU HPD member with a layoff notice or in a lay-off position could be successful in the posting and be able to transfer service for the purposes of vacation and wages from one hospital to the next.

The employee is subject to the normal probationary period and also retains recall rights at the former hospital for this time period. This provision puts the onus on the employer to disclose and forward postings and allows us to track vacancies and opportunities for our members. This could be a very useful tool if we all work together in enforcing it.

OPSEU calls on McGuinty to rescind all HPD layoffs

OPSEU called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to intervene to stop hospital layoffs after 32 members received notice of layoff at Peterborough Regional Hospital in February.

This is another example of the McGuinty Liberals' health care policies leaving hospitals in chaos, the union says. The cuts include 32 OPSEU professional and clerical staff including social workers, speech language pathologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others.

"This is outrageous. Premier McGuinty was elected to improve health care services, not cut them. It's not too late for him to keep his promise and stop these layoffs," OPSEU President Leah Casselman said.

Do the proposed standards of practice for registered pharmacy technicians cover hospital-based technicians?

By Marisa Forsyth

Calling all hospital pharmacy technicians! Are you up to date on what is happening to your profession?

If not, the Ontario College of Pharmacists, in collaboration with the various colleges that provide pharmacy technician courses, have been working towards the regulation and registration of pharmacy technicians for years.

The first step was the “Voluntary Certification” exam. This was to allow techs who are graduates and non- graduates to write a “voluntary” exam to become registered with the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP). Of course it costs to write this exam. When I went through a number of years ago, it cost roughly $120 or so. It has doubled since then. There is criteria for both grads and non-grads to be able to write this exam. The downfall: it is primarily for retail based pharmacy techs. Once you have passed this exam you receive a number from OCP, a subscription to Pharmacy Connection, and you must pay yearly dues.

The pharmacy tech course in most colleges is now two years instead of one, yet legislation is far from being changed. There is no pressure on retail stores or hospitals to hire graduates, and the exam is still “voluntary.” So while the OCP is pushing to have our profession regulated, there still is no need to go to college and take the two year course. Anyone hired without a diploma who has worked the required hours in a retail drug store or hospital pharmacy can still write the exam as a pharmacy technician.

Standards are being set on who can become a “registered” pharmacy technician and what that technician can and cannot do. The latest set of standards in Jan.-Feb. Pharmacy Connection are more confusing. Of the six standards, most hospital pharmacy techs are already doing these duties. The only new item is that if you are registered, you can take a new prescription over the phone from a physician. Although the practice of a physician calling in a new prescription over the phone is very common in the drug store, but it is not in a hospital pharmacy. That is usually done by a pharmacist on the unit or when a physician calls to find out what is on formulary and likely would like a dosing clarification.

I contacted one committee member from the OCP and raised issues such as:

How does this impact hospital techs since we already do order entry filling, delivering, compounding, communicating, with other professionals, and checking.

Does the OCP know how many, pharmacy techs there are?

Are they aware that there are a number of techs who are not even aware of the voluntary certification exam let alone the regulating of the profession?

If I have already been to college, written the voluntary exam and have worked in the profession for 26 years, will I have to go back to school to become registered?

How will this impact my wage? Will the hospital have to create a new wage grid and classification? (For example, many hospitals have instituted a higher rate for pharmacy technicians who do the checking function.)

If I am not registered, does this mean that I will have to stop doing all the work I am currently doing? Who will do it then? There is a severe shortage of pharmacists.

The list goes on.

Where do we go from here? If you are registered with OCP, make sure you read your Pharmacy Connection. If you are not, every Pharmacist receives this magazine as well. Ask them if you could take a look at it. Get informed. Ask your manager and see if they know about this move to regulation.

Contact the OCP. The chair, Elaine Akers R.Ph., B.Sc. Phm, urges everyone to read through the article and comment. I think that takes too long, I would suggest that you e-mail the OCP at www.ocpinfo.com . Say you have concerns on the regulation of pharmacy technicians and you wish to speak to someone about it. Della Croteau, Editor and Deputy Registrar/ Director of is the person to speak to. Let them know you have a right to be informed. Feel free to use the questions I have listed. We need to stand up for our rights as pharmacy technicians. We should all be a part of the decisions to change our profession. If you receive a response, forward it to me at moforsyth@yahoo.com so that I can let everyone know.

Bargaining Update: we’re back at the table

By Yves Shank, Chair

As you are aware, your central negotiating team last met with the OHA Nov. 3-5. We were unsuccessful in achieving a negotiated settlement; therefore our next step was moving on to binding arbitration.

Your central team has met twice in January, with our researcher and our negotiator, to begin working on the brief that will be presented at arbitration. While our preparations for arbitration are ongoing, both the OHA and OPSEU have agreed to return to the bargaining table with the goal of achieving a negotiated settlement. We will be at the table Mar. 21, 22 and 23.

As we were unable to agree on dates for arbitration we appealed to our arbitration board to set dates for the arbitration hearing. May 18, 19, 20 have now been established by the board for arbitration in case we are unable to reach a settlement.

Your team is looking forward to updating you the next time we meet, at convention.

HPD Executive notes

Let us know what is happening

As we know there have been many HPD layoffs across the province, including those working in outpatient programs such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists. What does this mean? Chris Luscombe-Mills has been working on a survey to find out how this is affecting health care in communities. As well, a survey was sent to all local presidents to get a complete picture of how the budget exercise is affecting our members. If you have not filled this out yet, please take a few minutes to let us know what is happening.

Running for the Board?

It is election time again at the regional meetings in March. If you are an HPD member and you are running for the Executive Board, please be aware that the HPD Executive has passed a motion that you can submit your expenses and up to $200 dollars will be reimbursed. These must be legitimate campaign expenses. Please attach any and all receipts when sending in expense forms. Please forward this to Pat McNamara or bring with you to Convention and hand them in at the HPD caucus.

Dues

It’s that time of year again. The 2005 dues are now due. The cost is $2.00 per HPD member for the year. Please make cheque out to Hospital Professionals Division. You can bring those to Convention and hand deliver to Pat McNamara.

Dates to remember

Regional Meetings Mar. 19, 2005

Hospital Professionals Division Executive

Chair Patty Rout Local 348 Oshawa Lakeridge Health Corporation
Vice-Chair Mary Sue Smith Local 464 Ottawa Hospital - General Campus
Secretary Christine Luscombe-Mills Local 466 Perth & Smith Falls District Hospital
Treasurer Pat McNamara Local 566 Toronto East General Hospital
Education, Membership Marisa Forsyth Local 143 Windsor General Hospital
Health & Safety Frank Pezzutto Local 662 North Bay General Hospital
Job Security Jan O’Leary Local 659 St. Joseph’s Health Centre
Public Policy Bryan Mitchell Local 570 Mount Sinai Hospital
Chair - Central Team Yves Shank Local 659 Sudbury Regional Hospital
First Alternate Yves Shank Local 659 Sudbury Regional Hospital

www.hospitalprofessionals.com

Authorized by: Leah Casselman, President

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