Kelly Latimer is not sure how Sudbury nurses got from there to here. The president of Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 13 said Health Sciences North officials told her that 26 full-time positions among the three hospital unions would be cut as administration works to solve an $11.1-million deficit.
As the number-crunching and job-cutting process has continued, it has become known that 60.5 full-time nursing positions, affecting 70 individuals, have been trimmed. And the nursing job losses aren’t over, said Latimer.
Latimer and other members of her ONA local, as well as members of CUPE and ONA paramedical locals, will take part in a rally to protest against hospital cuts Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre site of HSN.
When asked how the number grew to include so many nurses, Latimer says: “I’m not sure, I’m not sure, and I’ve already been told there are more eliminations coming” although she hasn’t received notice of them yet.
Under the terms of ONA Local 13’s collective agreement, members must receive at least four months’ notice of layoffs. Traditionally, ONA was notified by administration about pending job cuts and the two sides talked about them before notices were issued. “But that’s not what’s happening,” said Latimer.
The hospital is issuing notices to individuals whose positions are affected about the same time as the union is being notified.
Some nurses whose positions have been cut are still on the job. Others are on maternity leave and won’t be laid off until they return.
“Some have chosen to leave the building and go to other places,” said Latimer, who has been a nurse in Sudbury’s hospital system for more than 30 years and is three years away from retirement.
In some cases, registered nurses and nurse practitioners are being laid off and replaced with registered practical nurses. There are currently between 1,250 and 1,300 full-time, part-time and casual RNs at the hospital.
Morale is low among them “because everybody doesn’t know where the next cut’s going to happen,” said Latimer. “Is it going to be me? People have been told, ‘Oh you’re safe because you work here,’ but I’m telling them, ‘No. Nobody’s safe right now.’ ”
Latimer said she is glad she is nearing the end of her nursing career and not starting it. And while she would like to work longer, she doesn’t think she will.
“I don’t like having to put people in the hallways, I don’t like having to put people in tub rooms or media rooms, I don’t like doing those things. That’s not why I got into nursing.”
Latimer said hospital administrators are defending cuts to nursing, saying they are paring numbers back to 2010 staffing levels. “But some other areas in the hospital that don’t touch patients aren’t going to those ratios,” she said. “People that are at the bedside where the ... sickest of the sick are” are being cut though.
Latimer expects a round of layoff notices to be issued in October so nurses whose jobs are cut will be gone by March 31, when the current fiscal year for the hospital ends.
Carol Mulligan is an award-winning reporter and one of Greater Sudbury’s most experienced journalists.