FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sept.30, 2002
Chronic staff shortages, low wages taking toll on hospital professionals
Ontario hospitals are having a tough time recruiting qualified professional staff due to low pay and deteriorating working conditions, the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
“Ontario's hospitals need to pay competitive rates to the people who provide key rehabilitative, diagnostic and therapeutic services,” said OPSEU President Leah Casselman, who has embarked on a tour of hospitals in 20 cities to meet with union members who are now in contract negotiations with the hospitals.
“It’s a thankless job -- staff are working overtime to make up for staff shortages -- no one wants to work in an underpaid and overworked job.”
Central negotiations between OPSEU and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), which represents hospital employers, have broken off over wages and working condition for 5,000 hospital professionals, including MRI and CT Technologists, Mammography Technologists, EEG Technicians, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists,
X-Ray and Lab Technologists, Social Workers, Pharmacists, Psychologists and Respiratory Therapists.
“It’s time the OHA and the government woke up to the fact that people are not entering health care professions because of poor wages and working conditions,” Casselman said. The Michener Institute estimates that hospitals in the province are short at least 250 laboratory technologists, and the problem is compounded by
private labs that are poaching experienced staff.
“We want a fair deal for the people who are an integral part of our health care system, the people who enable doctors to make diagnoses, and therapy to make sure you get the right medication and treatment” said Casselman. “These are the people who process your biopsy to determine if it is malignant, or who determine if
the organism making you sick is E.coli, they test the blood you will receive in surgery to make sure you don't get Hepatitis C or worse, or who look at your scan to see if you have something that needs immediate medical attention.”
OPSEU is attempting to preserve the standardized provincial wage system for professionals to discourage movement of staff caused by hospitals who compete for trained professionals.
Casselman accused the OHA of undermining the central bargaining process by allowing some of its member hospitals to offer side deals to staff outside of the central bargaining process.
“The breakdown of central hospital bargaining will only lead to more chaos in the system as hospitals compete for staff,” she said.
For further information:
Moya Beall, OPSEU Negotiator: 416/443-8888
Aimee Axler, Bargaining Committee Chair: 613-329-2051