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HSN staff rally as contract talks enter arbitration

Health-care professionals at Sudbury’s Health Sciences North have been without a contract since 2022
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Health Sciences North staff who have been without a contract for nearly two years rally outside the Sudbury hospital on May 16.

Health-care professionals at Health Sciences North rallied outside the hospital May 16. The workers have been without a contract since 2022 and entered in arbitration on Monday.

The rally aimed to show support for the bargaining team with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA). 

“It is unacceptable that the health-care professionals at this major hospital have been left  struggling to provide good-quality care and diagnostic services to their patients while  experiencing serious staff shortages and working without a respectful, current contract since  June 2022,” says ONA President Erin Ariss in a news release.

“This employer has utterly failed to recruit and retain sufficient levels of these highly skilled  health-care professionals in 15 different health-care professional classifications. HSN has expected these dedicated, highly educated professionals to provide the essential work they do to diagnose, treat and help patients during recovery while simultaneously working for almost two years with an expired contract even amidst high inflation rates.”

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Health Sciences North staff who have been without a contract for nearly two years rally outside the Sudbury hospital on May 16. Mark Gentili / Sudbury.com

ONA said the staffing shortages are mainly in the areas of radiation therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and respiratory therapists. Shortages are also being seen in the pharmacy, lab and diagnostic imaging. 

The association said the shortages have meant delays for patients and heavy workloads for many staff, leading to burnt out. 

“We ask the people of Sudbury to stand behind their health-care professionals in their fight  for action on pushing their employer to retain current workers and recruit others,” Ariss said in the release. “They are fighting hard for better care for every patient they see.” 

Nickel Belt MPP and NDP health critic France Gélinas raised the issue in the legislature on Thursday, too. 

“These workers have been working without a collective agreement since June 2022, two long years ago,” Gélinas said. “Today, May 16th is the long-awaited arbitration date.”

The MPP said there are shortages in about 15 classifications of health care professionals at the Sudbury hospital, including respiratory therapists, pathologist assistants, lab technicians, radiation therapists, medical radiation technologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, pharmacy technicians, prosthetic and orthotic technicians, perfusionists and the list goes on.

“These shortages cause delays in tests needed for diagnosis, delays in care and treatment plans and missed care,” Gélinas said. “All of these delays lead to extended hospital stays, hospital overcrowding and hallway health care. I sure hope that the arbitration brings them what negotiation was not able to bring, that is fair wages and good working conditions.”


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