Begins: 5 October 2022 @
11:00 AM Central / 12:00 Noon Eastern
Location: Northwestern ON (virtual)
NORTHWESTERN ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– Although across the province, hospitals are dealing with staffing shortages, hospitals in Ontario’s north west – in Kenora, Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Emo – are among those most challenged to retain and attract skilled staff.
Throughout Ontario hospital staff turnover rates have doubled and paramedics are struggling due to rapid increase in call volumes. The crisis has prompted hospital staff and paramedics to warn 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, October 5, 2022, at 11 a.m. (Central Time) – 12 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) – to release north western Ontario 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 emergency room (ER) and other unit 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. In north western Ontario with higher rates of cancer and respiratory illness and poverty, the provincial government 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, vast distances between Northern communities and rising call volumes due to chronic underfunding of health and social programs.
“Kenora District paramedics strive to provide the best possible care for patients in our communities. We require more staff in response to the dramatic rise in call volumes, which is causing unsustainable workloads and injuries. The ongoing retention and recruitment challenge we face must be addressed by the province through a paramedic staffing strategy in Northern communities,” said Derek Hamilton, president of CUPE 5911, the union that represents Kenora District paramedics.
In Ontario, CUPE represents 50,000 front-line hospital staff including RPNs, personal support workers, cleaners, porters, paramedical and administrative and other workers and more than 6000 paramedics and dispatchers.
* Media conference zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83937892020?pwd=Q2F3QUEwOUpvelNUVWxaMGEydndLZz09