Approximately 100 nurses, service staff and supporters called for adequate funding for the Health Sciences North (HSN) at a rally to protest cuts at the hospital.
Attending were Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) Local 13, members of CUPE and ONA paramedical locals.
Recently, Health Sciences North officials told ONA Local president Kelly Latimer that 26 full-time positions among the three hospital unions would be cut as administration works to solve an $11.1-million deficit. Latimer has been a nurse in Sudbury for more than 30 years.
"Right now the situation is becoming... I hate to say 'depressing' but that's what it is," Latimer told Sudbury.com. "We're having full programs cut at the hospital that have been there for many many years and have been forefront in health care for the community."
Latimer went on to refer to proposed cuts that will close the Breast Screening Assessment Clinic, a program that has been operating at HSN for 18 years. Dr. Rachelle Paradis, a Sudbury surgeon, spoke out about plans to close the clinic in a recent interview with Sudbury.com. Paradis said closure of the clinic would increase wait times for breast cancer patients and in turn, result in poorer health outcomes for breast cancer patients.
The Breast Screening Program is not being eliminated; rather, it is being trimmed, insisted David McNeil, senior vice-president in charge of patient experience and digital transformation at HSN.
Vicki McKenna, RN, provincial president with the Ontario Nurses Association echoed concerns about the impact that cuts will have not only on the number of nurses and support staff available to provide patient care, but the impact that job losses would have on outcomes. "The research is really clear. If you start reducing the number of registered nurses at the bedside, infection rates increase, length of stays increase," McKenna said. "We know the words morbidity and mortality, which are scary words, but those numbers increase."
"Cuts are not acceptable here, so we are here to say to the public, 'Pay attention. Things are happening here, you need to find out what it is but get involved. Call your MPP, write letters, tell this government it's not okay."
Sudbury MPP Jamie West is in Toronto, where the Ontario Legislature was called yesterday and will also sit Saturday. Bill 31, Ontario Premier Doug Ford's push to cut the size of Toronto city council in half is on the Queen's Park agenda.
Representing 1,150 clerical and service workers at Health Sciences North, CUPE 1623 president Dave Shelefontiuk said he wants the premier to make good on his promise to end "hallway medicine".
"He made the promise that he was going to be a different premier, he was going to listen to the people and as you can see, all kinds of people are here are telling them, you know you have to increase funding to end hallway medicine," Shelefontiuk said.
"You have to increase funding to end the cuts so that patient services are provided the way they're supposed to be provided. We're all interested in providing the best patient care possible."