Begins: 21 September 2022 @ 11:00 AM
Location: Kitchener, ON
KITCHENER, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– With Ontario hospital staff turnover rates doubling and paramedics struggling due to rapid increase in call volumes, hospital staff and area paramedics are warning that the depth of the hospital staffing crisis will worsen and that patient access to care is in peril under the provincial government’s current course, which includes the elimination of more than $1.6 Billion in special COVID-19 funding.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) will hold a media conference on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, at 11 a.m. at the Grand River Hospital (835 King St. West, Emergency Department entrance) to release Kitchener-specific data on how many nurses, paramedical, clerical and support staff would need to be hired this year by hospitals in the area, just to maintain existing patient care and service levels.
Hospital ER closures and staffing shortages will “only intensify” under the current health human resource strategy of the PC provincial government, says Dave Verch, a registered practical nurse (RPN) and first vice-president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE).
Officially the hospital staff turnover rate in Ontario is 14.95%. “This is an unsustainable level of loss of experienced health care workers,” says Verch. “None of this is normal nor is it acceptable. With an ageing and growing population here in Kitchener, the province is on a course to cause untold suffering for patients and front-line hospital staff.”
The hospital staffing crisis is contributing to ambulance unavailability, as offload delays for paramedics prevents timely response to 911 calls. The problem is compounded by understaffing of paramedic services relative to demand.
“The Ontario provincial government must immediately invest in improving staffing levels and working conditions at hospitals and paramedic services. Call volumes for paramedics continue to rise dramatically in Waterloo, without a corresponding increase in staffing levels. The demanding working conditions are making it hard to recruit and retain paramedics, as we observe high rates of injuries and burnout. We need a province-wide strategy to addressing the staffing crisis,” said Nick Desclouds, an active paramedic and president of CUPE 5191, the union that represents about 300 paramedics in Waterloo Region.
In Ontario, CUPE represents 50,000 front-line hospital staff including RPNs, personal support workers, cleaners, porters, and administrative and other workers and more than 6000 paramedics and dispatchers.