The Ontario Council Of Hospital Unions represents over 30,000 healthcare workers in Ontario and is working to defend health services in every community.
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32nd OCHU Annual Convention - April 29th to May 2nd 2014

Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront Hotel
To book your rooms for the upcoming OCHU Annual Convention please click here.
To find out more about the upcoming Annual Convention please follow this link: 32nd OCHU Annual Convention
March 5th 2014 - UPDATE: The room block for The Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront is currently full. OCHU has reserved a block of rooms at The Four Points by Sheraton Kingston and a block of rooms at Residence Inn by Marriott Kingston Water’s Edge.
To book your room at The Four Points by Sheraton Kingston Please click here now...
To book your room at Residence Inn by Marriott Kingston Water’s Edge Please click here now...
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Ontario Council of Hospital Unions / CUPE has partnered with LMS PROLINK to provide Professional Liability Protection (PLP) exclusively for Registered Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses who are members of OCHU / CUPE. For over 30 years LMS PROLINK has been a 100% Canadian owned independent insurance brokerage serving members of unions and associations.

CUPE RPNs: For full details click here...
CUPE RNs:
For full details click here...
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Hotline Media Tour 2014
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OCHU/OSLA Patient Hotline Report Release 2014

The study Pushed Out of Hospital, Abandoned at Home: After Twenty Years of Budget Cuts, Ontario’s Health System is Failing Patients, chronicles the qualitative experiences of hundreds of patients and their families from across Ontario, who called a 1-800 patient hotline.

Set up for over a period of a year, the patient hotline is a joint initiative of the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Read the full report and find out more about the provincial media tour...

Report exposes “discrimination” against frail, elderly patients

Abandoned at home elderly have borne brunt of cuts to hospitals
March 27, 2014
RENFREW, Ont. – The province’s near 20-year fixation with cuts to Ontario hospitals including the closure of 19,000 beds and decreased access to in hospital restorative convalescent care, is resulting in human tragedies on a grand scale, with many patients, foremost the elderly pushed out hospitals while acutely ill with little access to care at home, a report released today in Renfrew has found...read more
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Arbitration

Contract Arbitration Video

OCHU/CUPE Radio Ad - English

Listen to CUPE Radio Ad - English

OCHU/CUPE Radio Ad - French

Listen to CUPE Radio Ad - French
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Perth and Smiths Falls
Perth, Smiths Falls residents urged to attend community meetings to stop hospital cuts
JANUARY 11, 2013
PERTH, ON – Following several weeks of community outreach providing Perth and Smiths Falls residents with details of big cuts to surgery and other service at the district hospitals, area health care workers and other local activists are urging area residents to attend one of two community meetings this coming Monday and Tuesday in Perth and Smiths Falls, respectively.
With an ageing and growing population, the Perth and Smiths Falls communities deserve more access to a full range of health services at the district hospital – not less – say meeting organizers; the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)…read more
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Listen to an interview with Michael Hurley on Lake88
Enter the name for this tabbed section: HAI Tour
Provincial HAI Tour
Although medical experts are blaming hospital overcrowding (resulting from cuts to patient beds) for infection outbreaks – particularly outbreaks of antibiotic- resistant superbugs – the Ontario government plans to cut another 5,000 acute care beds province-wide. Currently, hospital bed occupancy is at record levels, over 97 per cent.

Studies show that healthcare-associated infections kill between 8,000 and 12,000 Canadians a year – 40 per cent of these deaths are in Ontario.

“Many of these deaths are preventable. Ontario should follow the lead of countries where hospital acquired infections have been significantly reduced by pro-active measures,” says Sharon Richer, the Vice-President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

OCHU/CUPE’s mobile hospital room tour will be visiting 15 communities across central and southern Ontario beginning October 11. OCHU/CUPE represents 35,000 hospital workers province-wide...click here to get full details
Conference on the Epidemic of Medical Errors & Hospital Acquired Infections in the US and Canada: The Systemic Causes

June 4, 2012 Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W. Toronto, ON

Registration: $250.00 For more information about the conference or to register: www.ochu.on.ca
* Every registrant will receive a copy of the book: “ Epidemic of Medical Error and Hospital Acquired Infection “

Presentations:
Keynote, Systemic Causes of Medical Error and Hospital • Acquired Infection: The Epidemic • Epidemiology of Medical Error and Infections • The Canadian Situation • Staffing and Medical Error and Hospital Infections • Factory Medicine • Shiftwork and its Malevolent Effects • Medical Errors and Hospital Infections: The Quebec Situation • Bullying and Medical Error • Ethics of Medical Errors in US and Canada • Injure a Healthcare Worker Injure a Patient: Connecting the Dots • Legal Issues that Conflict with Patient Safety • Medical Error and Infections to Special Populations • Panel discussion

Sponsored by The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

Click here for more information and to register online
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Health and Poverty
Poverty in Ontario is steadily increasing, and while the rich are getting richer, the poor are losing their livelihoods, their homes and are having difficulty providing for themselves and others. With the financial crisis used as a catalyst to cut from those who make the least, attacks on the most vulnerable in our country are becoming more brazen and the financial gap between the rich and poor gets wider every day.

One cause of this increased wage gap is the cut to the Special Diet - a food supplement program which provided up to $250 a month for those who could not afford to eat healthy food. This program is being replaced by a system which would exclude a significant portion of those who were previously using it to ensure they had access to decent meals.

Healthcare videos created by Zoran Pivalica for The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

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OCHU's Top Stories

Defined benefit plans can deliver retirement security

(Aug. 28, 2013)
Writing in Benefits Canada magazine, the Chair of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) feels defined benefit pension plans can work, and work well.
Helen Fetterly writes, in her first of two columns for the magazine, that HOOPP has recently released a White Paper, based on research carried out for the pension plan by The Gandalf Group, called The Emerging Retirement Crisis.
The research, she writes, “found that 64 per cent of Ontarians surveyed are worried they won’t have enough income to live on in retirement.” However, while 82 per cent of those with defined benefit plans are confident they will have enough, “only 57 per cent of those in defined contribution plans are as confident,” she writes, adding that about 60 per cent of Canadians don’t have workplace coverage… To read the full articles in Benefits Canada click here: To see the White Paper, The Emerging Retirement Crisis click here.

Request for an inquest was denied; Family sues hospital for son's death, Sept. 12

Toronto Star - Mon Sep 16 2013
Family sues hospital for son's death, Sept. 12
Individuals who break the law and have a mental illness are often sent to forensic psychiatric hospital units. While many patients in these units are not violent, violence between patients is not an aberration. Nurses and other front-line hospital workers are also often the target of patient violence.
Following the tragic beating death of Michael Brewer by a fellow patient who is now serving jail time for manslaughter, but who was originally charged with second-degree murder, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), which represents front-line staff at St. Joseph's in Hamilton where the death occurred, publicly called for an inquest. read more...

Municipalities themselves are the problem, not the arbitration system

Don’t make war on health care workers to deal with a handful of police and fire awards
February 14, 2013
TORONTO, ON – Hospital and long-term care workers urged Ontario’s Premier today to question the claims of municipalities that misrepresent arbitration outcomes and ignore the fact that the majority of municipal essential service contracts are freely negotiated.
“Municipalities freely negotiate over 90 per cent of their essential service contracts. Only a small number go to arbitration. The municipalities’ call for changes to arbitration rings hollow and should be resisted by the Premier,” said Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario...read more

Do Ontarians have enough to live on in retirement?

Helen Fetterly | August 22, 2013

This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Part two will be published on August 28.
I’ve been involved in healthcare for many years now, from my early days as an registered practical nurse to my current work as chair of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP).
HOOPP provides pension benefits to more than 274,000 active and retired healthcare workers across Ontario and is always interested in people’s attitudes toward retirement. With that in mind, HOOPP carried out a two-part white paper with The Gandalf Group called The Emerging Retirement Crisis.
Part 1 found that 64% of Ontarians surveyed are worried they won’t have enough income to live on in retirement…read more
If three jumbo jets crash, killing 1153 people every week, would government act?
That’s how many patients die weekly due to the epidemic of medical errors - May 10 2012
OTTAWA, ON - Research shows that 18 per cent of Canadian patients entering hospitals – 552,000 of them – experience harm, and between 56,000 and 63,000 (the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing, killing all on board, every week) will die from a medical error or hospital-acquired infection, said the authors of a book that looks at the systemic causes of preventable hospital deaths, at an Ottawa media conference today. Medical errors include medication mistakes, misdiagnoses and unnecessary surgeries, as well as hospital-acquired infections...read more

City Must Open Shelter For The Homeless Now!

March 25 2013 - TORONTO, ON –After weeks of determined community action to force the City to respond to the crisis of overcrowding in its shelter system, the Community Development and Recreation Committee met on March 18. Dozens of powerful deputations were presented by those with experience of homelessness, front line workers and advocates. Despite a staff report still trying to suggest that the shelters were adequate, the myth of a system that is coping with the needs of those on the streets died on the floor of that committee room. Its members called on Council to return to a policy of opening more shelter spaces when the system reached 90% capacity but, astoundingly, recommended only that 172 'flex beds' be opened. This means putting down mats on the floor of already overcrowded shelters and pushing capacity well beyond 96%...Click here to continue reading

CBC Marketplace - Dirty Hospitals

Canada has the highest rate of hospital acquired infections in the developed world, and Canada's consumer watchdog wants to know why.
Erica Johnson puts hospital cleanliness to the test, and finds a mess that is making you sick. With hidden cameras, including Canada's first hidden camera glo gel test, insider interviews and expert opinions, Marketplace uncovers why people in Canadian hospitals are too often getting sicker instead of better.
Note: Marketplace went inside eleven hospitals in Ontario and British Columbia. We decided to only name the Niagara region hospitals because that is where there was a major C. difficile outbreak last year, that is where Gary Ball died, and those are the hospitals Dr. Kevin Smith supervises. Watch the episode...

October 2012: Membership Newsletter

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Liberals move to end bargaining

The Ontario Liberals have drafted legislation that would end bargaining in the healthcare sector, end our right to binding arbitration to resolve contract disputes and give the government the power to write contract terms and impose them on healthcare workers.
CUPE held emergency meetings earlier in October to approve a campaign to push back. The union needs your help to: sign and mail the postcard that is included in this envelope; attend the lobby meeting organized by your union local with your local provincial member of parliament and attend the demonstration on November 28 at noon in Toronto. Buses are available....read more

Media Advisories

New patient ombudsman legislation an insult to Ontario hospital patients and long-term care residents, families

April 1, 2014
Toronto, ON – The Ontario government is offering “a mockery of a legitimate complaints process for hospital patients and long-term care residents” in new legislation (Bill 179) tabled recently, says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

A sharp contrast to the meaningful oversight under the office of the Ontario Ombudsman, the “patient ombudsman” proposed in Bill 179, “will have feeble powers. It is apparent that there is no intention to provide a genuine complaints process backed by robust investigative authority for those who use our health care system,” says Hurley.

Bill 179 proposes expanded powers for the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate complaints from the public in the school board, university and municipal sectors. However the health sector is not included in the new oversight extended to the provincial Ombudsman.

Instead of the “independent oversight,” being proposed for other pockets of the public sector under the provincial Ombudsman, the province is positing an “insular process where patients and nursing home residents’ complaints are redirected back to the hospital or long-term care facility. The opportunity to draw independent conclusions and to make recommendations for systemic change is absent,” says Hurley.

Over two decades, OCHU has sponsored several hotlines where thousands of patients and their family members have been provided the opportunity to call and complain about the quality of their care; about acquiring a hospital infection; about being threatened with illegal surcharges; about being denied access to care or being pushed out of hospital while still acutely ill; and about being housed with residents with serious mental illnesses.

“The Ontario health care system is in serious need of a real complaints process for patients and residents of long-term care. But the process being proposed under Bill 179, is not it,” says Hurley. Ontario health care institutions “do enjoy a significant level of immunity from public scrutiny. Patients and long-term care residents and their families deserve nothing less than to be fully covered by the Ontario Ombudsman’s Act.”

For more information please contact:
Michael Hurley,
President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)
416.884.0770

Stella Yeadon,
CUPE Communications
416.559.9300

Earlier discharge for new Ottawa moms is linked to the closure of birthing in Renfrew, puts newborns potentially at risk

March 27, 2014 Ottawa, ON –The announcement last week that Ottawa moms will be discharged within 24 hours of delivering a baby is directly linked to the closure of the birthing unit at Renfrew hospital and may compromise neonatal well-being, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE charged today.

The regional changes in post-natal care, which sees the Ottawa Hospital shortening maternal stays from 48 hours to 24 hours and the impending June closure of birthing and obstetrics at the Renfrew hospital, “has little to do with good evidence - based health policy and better outcomes for moms and babies. Rather the head of obstetrics at the Ottawa Hospital has said frankly that the shorter stays for moms and babies are related to budget cost-cutting,” says Michael Hurley the president of the OCHU.

In a 2007 policy statement on post-partum maternal and newborn discharge, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) says:
“Early discharge from hospital postnatally increases the risk of neonatal mortality and morbidity….The neonate who is discharged at less than 48 hours is at greater risk than the mother.” The SOGC’s statement references to a large Washington study of neonatal mortality, which examined 47,879 births between 1989 and 1990. During this period, 9101 newborns were discharged before 30 hours of age. “This group of newborns was found to have a significantly higher mortality rate in the first year of life than those newborns that stayed in hospital longer,” says the SOGC statement.

Citing another study, this time at the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario (now called the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre ) that reviewed emergency room (ER) visits by newborns under nine days old, SOGC states that ER visits “were significantly more common among mother and newborn pairs discharged early. ”Early discharge was defined as less than 36 hours. The readmission rate for those seen in ER was 33 per cent. The Ottawa hospital is proposing to shorten post-partum stays to 24 hours, 12 less than the 36 hours considered “early discharge” in the London children’s hospital study.

Ottawa moms and babies won’t receive meaningful in-hospital care and breastfeeding support following delivery and will be forced to go to a walk-in clinic in Nepean should they have complications post-birthing. Renfrew moms will have to travel to a larger centre like Ottawa to receive pre-natal and post-natal care.

“Ontario’s hospitals are the most efficient in Canada, measured by beds to population, staff to beds and lengths of stay. There is no room for further cuts in these hospitals. Hospitals are responding to a 5-year funding freeze with cuts to medically necessary services. Surely Ottawa has enough Liberal Cabinet Ministers at Queen’s Park to mount a defense of its mothers and newborns” says Hurley.

The SOGC policy statement can be found at:
http://sogc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/190E-PS-April2007.pdf


For more information please contact:
Michael Hurley, President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) 416.884.0770

Stella Yeadon, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE/OCHU) Communications 416.559.9300

Rally to protest closure of 20% of beds at Winchester District Memorial Hospital

March 24, 2014
Winchester On.- Despite the fact that almost all categories of patient care were at their highest levels ever, in 2012/13, 20% of beds at the Winchester and District Memorial Hospital are slated to close- the most significant bed closures in Eastern Ontario. Staff represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees will rally at the hospital (566 Louise St, Winchester) on Monday March 24 at noon to protest the closures.

“ In 2012 and 2013 surgeries, emergency visits, chemotherapy visits and inpatients admitted were at their highest level “ says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions of CUPE. “ A sharp increase in patient discharges in the last quarter, used to justify the bed closures, coincides with the fiscal year end. We believe that the hospital is being manipulated, using the funding formula, into cutting beds and the staff complement, threatening the quality of care. We see this pattern across rural eastern Ontario, with bed and program cuts in Renfrew, Arnprior, Perth and Smith’s Falls and Winchester.”

Ontario has the fewest acute care hospital beds to population of any province in Ontario or any country in the OECD. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions has just released a major study of the impact of years of acute care bed closures on hospital patients.

For further information, please contact:

Michael Hurley,
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE
416-884-0770

Stella Yeadon,
Canadian Union of Public Employees Communications
416-559-9300

Presentation to the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Social Policy Regarding Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) from The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE)

February 10, 2014
Vankleek Hill, Champlain Community Centre, 36 Mill Street, Ontario

The Ontario Council of Hospital Workers (OCHU/CUPE) represents 30,000 hospital and long-term care workers in 65 hospitals across Ontario. We represent food service workers, maintenance workers, housekeepers, Registered Practical Nurses, Personal Support Workers, administrative and office workers, and many more classifications.
When Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) were established, we feared that they would provide cover for the government as they proceeded to regionalize, centralize, privatize, and cut health care services. Unfortunately, this has proven accurate...read full report

Mandatory Flu Vaccinations for Health Care Workers

CUPE encourages health care workers to get an influenza vaccination if they can safely do so. But making flu shots mandatory for health care workers is a serious intrusion on the freedom and personal autonomy of health care workers that may sometimes have detrimental effects on their own health.
Forcing people to take flu shots against their will may well undermine public confidence in vaccination programs, even vaccination programs with an excellent results and high safety standards.
Employers do not provide any sick leave to half of CUPE hospital workers. So when those workers have an adverse reaction to the vaccination, they will lose pay. Even those workers who do qualify for sick leave may be harassed by employers if they take days off as, under austerity, hospitals are increasingly driven by cost cutting and are sharply targeting sick leave for reduction.
But, along with increased attacks on sick leave, some health care employers are demanding that health care workers get vaccinated or be fired.
Research: A recent report from the prestigious medical journal, The Lance Infectious Diseases, has thrown more doubt on mandatory flu vaccines for health care workers. Instead of providing the comprehensive protection commonly supposed, the systematic review by Osterholm (and colleagues) found that, at best, the influenza vaccine provided moderate — about 60% — protection from laboratory-confirmed disease in healthy adults. The experts added that such protection was greatly reduced or absent in some seasons.
In a subsequent policy paper, Osterholm and coauthors conclude that recent expanded recommendations for influenza vaccination are based on expert and organizational opinion rather than on data. They also state that systematic overestimation of vaccine effectiveness has hampered the identification of better solutions.
Moreover, they note that if “the general public or professional groups such as health care workers perceive that public health officials have ‘oversold’ the effectiveness of the current influenza vaccines, substantial backlash and mistrust could occur. Efforts now to increase vaccination rates must be consistent with building a strong and lasting foundation for vaccine acceptance over time, which will be even more valuable as new and better vaccines become available.”
Canadian medical experts reviewing this and other research have come out opposed to mandatory flu shots for health care workers — while still encouraging health care workers to get the flu shot. Drs. Michael Gardam and Camille Lemieux from the
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Infection Prevention and Control Unit, University Health Network and the University of Toronto argue “that it is of paramount importance to critically analyze the benefits of influenza vaccination before making a decision that justifies the suspension of a health care worker’s right to refuse to be vaccinated.”
They cite a 2010 study (by Thomas et. al.1) involving 20,000 patients over the age
of 60 who lived in long-term care facilities, concluded that the vaccination of health care workers was not associated with a significant reduction in influenza-specific outcomes: “We conclude there is no evidence that vaccinating HCWs prevents influenza in elderly residents in LTCFs.” On this basis, there was insufficient evidence to support the vaccination of health care workers as a method of protecting patients in long-term care facilities.
Drs. Gardam and Lemieux note that it can be challenging to determine whether influenza actually played a direct or indirect role in mortality and most influenza-like illnesses in any given year are caused by other pathogens.
Medical proponents of mandatory vaccination suggest that even with 60% effectiveness, mandatory vaccination will provide more protection to patients than voluntary vaccinations, as more workers will be vaccinated.
Gardam and Lemieux however, note that “influenza in immunized individuals can cause milder disease... In this circumstance one wonders whether immunized health care workers may mistake influenza symptoms for a more benign illness and continue to work. Further, three recent large European vaccine effectiveness studies demonstrated that effectiveness waned to near zero or zero within roughly three months after vaccination for the 2011-2012 season.”
Finally, the authors note that “a small number of American facilities that have implemented mandatory vaccination and have seen their immunization rates increase to well over 95%. What we have not seen is evidence that these policies have brought about a significant reduction in both nosocomial influenza and influenza-related deaths.”
New Attempts to Impose Mandatory Flu Shots
In British Columbia, mandatory flu shots or wearing a mask will be required for hospital and care home staff, and visitors as well.
The original B.C. policy, introduced in August 2012, included provisions requiring health care workers to wear an identifying badge if they had the flu shot and to notify a supervisor if they knew of someone violating the policy. With the June 2013 revised policy, there is no requirement to wear a badge and workers are now “expected” rather than “required” to report non-compliance.
1 Influenza vaccination for healthcare workers who work with the elderly. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010;(2):CD005187 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166073
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All health care workers in hospitals and residential care facilities and in community health are covered by the policy. It also includes volunteers, outside contractors and visitors. There are no distinctions made in the BC policy. Some have suggested the policy would be less objectionable if it focused on protecting the most vulnerable.
Notably, a grievance arbitration ruling on this matter emphasized that employers are legally obligated to accommodate health care workers who cannot comply with the policy.
The mask option: “Very little information is available about the effectiveness of face masks and respirators in controlling the spread of pandemic influenza in community settings,” the U.S. government flu web site notes.
For many health care workers, there are occasions where a mask is required. However, wearing a mask all day is irritating and gets in the way of developing an interactive relationship with their patients. It will also cause patients and co-workers to potentially shun those who wear masks while feeling falsely secure with workers who don’t. Finally, some people will not be able to do their job at all with a mask (e.g. speech language pathologists).
Ontario: Two major London, Ontario hospitals have recently announced that they will enforce the same policy as B.C. Other hospitals may follow.
Doug Sider, medical director of communicable diseases at Public Health Ontario, the province’s health promotion agency, states “I suspect sooner rather than later it’s not going to be up to an individual hospital. We are going to say ... ‘Here’s a standardized set of approaches we’d like all hospitals to engage in.’”
The Ontario government wants to see a dramatic increase in the number of health care workers who get the flu shot, but opposes making vaccinations compulsory. “We don’t require health-care workers to be immunized in this province, but we do have a three- year strategy to ... strongly encourage health care workers to be immunized every year,” Dr. Arlene King, chief medical officer of health for the province told reporters earlier this year.
Ontario CUPE organized hospitals: Ontario hospitals and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE have negotiated a protocol that recognizes the right of workers to refuse vaccination, while also protecting the public. If government requires vaccination, workers who do not receive the vaccination will be reassigned, or if that is not possible, they will be placed on unpaid leave. If the vaccine is medically contra- indicated for the employee they will be reassigned, or if that is not possible, the employee will be put on paid leave.

Closure of Renfrew Birthing Unit Highlights the Lie in Ontario's Closer to Home Healthcare Strategy for Rural Communities

RENFREW, ON, Feb. 19, 2014 The recent announcement that the Renfrew hospital plans to cut birthing and obstetrics, highlights the cynicism and deception in the province's Closer to Home healthcare strategy, says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE.
Downsizing hospitals, cutting beds and shedding services is the basis for health care delivery reforms supported by all 3 major Ontario political parties. Small rural hospitals are particularly threatened. In theory, services closer to home are supposed to replace services cut. In the case of Renfrew, this cut will mean travel to Ottawa, a community 94 km away, possible only by car or by Greyhound.
The Renfrew Victoria Hospital plans to close its obstetrics unit in June. The closure comes following significant bed, surgery, procedure and therapy cuts at neighbouring hospitals in Arnprior and Perth and Smiths Falls. Ottawa too will see thousands of procedures moved from the Ottawa Hospital and privatized to private clinics, some of them for-profit.
"Short of the closure of 5 hospitals in Niagara, eastern Ontario is seeing the harshest cuts to hospital services anywhere in the province," says Hurley. Cutting obstetrics is appalling, Hurley says. "It is a reasonable expectation in a developed country, that a community like Renfrew will offer services like obstetrics. Ontario has the fewest hospital beds to population of any province in Canada or country in the OECD. The efficiency of the Ontario hospital system is unparalleled. Health planners who are erasing a woman's right to give birth in her community should strongly reconsider."
CUPE has asked on the Ontario Healthcare Coalition for help in responding to the cuts in obstetrics in Renfrew. A community meeting will be organized in the near future.

For further information:
Michael Hurley,
President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)
416-884-0770

Eastern Ontario ground zero for hospital downsizing with deep service and bed cuts at Renfrew, Arnprior, Perth, Smiths Falls and Ottawa hospitals

February 14, 2014
RENFREW, Ont. – With the recent announcement that the Renfrew hospital plans to cut birthing and obstetrics services, eastern Ontario hospitals are quickly becoming ground zero for health service cuts in Ontario, says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).

Downsizing hospitals, cutting beds and shedding services is the basis for the provincial Liberal government’s health care delivery reforms. Small rural hospitals are particularly threatened under this plan.

The Renfrew Victoria Hospital plans to close its obstetrics unit in June 2014. The closure comes following significant bed, surgery, procedure and therapy cuts at neighbouring hospitals in Arnprior and Perth and Smiths Falls. Ottawa too will see thousands of procedures moved from the Ottawa Hospital and privatized to private clinics, some of them for-profit.

“Short of closing hospitals as is happening in Niagara, it appears that eastern Ontario is seeing the harshest cuts to hospital services than elsewhere in the province,” says Hurley.

Cutting obstetrics is particularly “shortsighted” Hurley says. “Communities need both the young and the old to stay vibrant. If young families can’t access health services including birthing at the local hospital they will not be moving to Renfrew. Cutting hospital services is not a way to build and grow the community. It is the exact opposite of what Renfrew needs. If this cut happens, there will be no babies (unless born at home) with Renfrew as their birth place. And that is such a loss.”

At the Arnprior Memorial Hospital, six hospital beds have been closed and de-staffed since early summer 2013. There are plans to cut more services in physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging, which will mean longer waiting times for area patients.

In Perth and Smiths Falls the communities have formed a local coalition, which has been actively fighting the closure of 12 hospital beds and cuts to hip, knee and cataract surgeries, the day hospital, palliative care, physician recruitment and non-emergency surgery.

Hurley is encouraging the Renfrew community to mobilize, like they’ve done in Perth and in Smiths Falls, to keep obstetrics at the local hospital or face the slow and eventual death of their community hospital. He is also calling on the area MPP to speak out against the cut to obstetrics at the Renfrew Victoria Hospital and stop it from going forward.

For more information please contact:
Michael Hurley
President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)
416-884-0770

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications
416-559-9300
Movement of hospital services to private clinics is dangerous and expensive union will tell legislative budget committee
January 20 2014
North Bay, Ont – Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) will present on Wednesday, January 22 at 11:00 a.m. to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, at the Ontario budget consultations in North Bay. The hearings will take place at the Best Western Hotel, 700 Lakeshore Drive.

Hurley will tell the committee that “ the movement of surgeries and procedures to private clinics will be much more costly and result in higher death rates. It will lead to smaller community hospital closures and open the door to corporate delivery of these procedures. Ontario health policy also exploits personal support workers (PSWs) as sweatshop labour in an under-resourced home care system, leading to a 60% annual turnover in caregivers and is unsustainable.”

Hurley will ask for the cancellation of regulations which move core hospital work to private surgery and procedure clinics, which will destabilize many local hospitals and increase health risks for patients.“ Studies clearly show that private delivery of healthcare results is more expensive while, ironically, providing inferior care and higher death rates. Ontario must reconsider its ideological bias towards private sector delivery. Superior patient care outcomes are provided, much more affordably, through public delivery “.

For more information please contact:
Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE
416-884-0770

Stella Yeadon
Canadian Unions of Public Employees (CUPE) Communications
416-559-9300
Closure of 5 Niagara region hospitals highlights the threat to smaller community hospitals across Ontario
January 14 2014

TORONTO, ON –The announcement by Ontario’s Health Minister of the closure of 5 of 7 Niagara region hospitals ”is a warning bell to smaller Ontario communities signaling similar moves coming against their local hospitals“ said Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) president Michael Hurley. “ Despite all of the years of denials and obfuscation, the plan for Niagara is revealed to be a dramatic downsizing with the closure of 5 hospitals services “.

“This is the plan for smaller hospitals within driving distance of larger communities rolling out in the Niagara region. The worst part is that the communities are misled throughout the entire process”, Hurley said. “ We are very concerned about the absence of transparency and openness in the processes which led to this decision. Niagara will be left with a dramatically diminished acute care capacity, embarrassingly inadequate when measured against any developed economy.”

The Niagara hospital closures have taken place despite the tragic loss of life of a young woman who bled to death en route to hospital, passing a closed ER en route. “ The new model of care for Niagara builds this kind of human redundancy into its planning. There are great distances to travel across the Niagara region to get to the 2 hospital sites, some people in trauma won’t make it and the planners know this. How a province that already has the fewest number of acute care beds in the O.E.C.D. could be closing additional beds and ER’s in Niagara is incomprehensible” said Hurley.

In 2014 hospital staff represented by CUPE will be ramping up protests against the plans to close down smaller community hospitals and to shift many same day hospital procedures to private clinics.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Hurley, President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions
(416) 884-0770
Health minister announces move to private clinics despite evidence showing higher death rates, higher costs for the public
December 18 2013
TORONTO, ON – The announcement by Ontario’s health minister of a “ a major shift in the provision of health services, surgeries and procedures from accredited and regulated public hospitals to private clinics is alarming,” said Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) president Michael Hurley. “ In Ontario, quality control problems and illegal user fees have haunted the private clinics and the Minister has been a hands-off manager, leaving the public at risk, vulnerable and exploited.

“The government’s plan is to open a market in clinical health care. The private clinics will process as many colonoscopy, endoscopy, dialysis and other procedures as humanly possible. These clinics will treat patients with the simplest medical conditions. The public hospitals will be left with patients with complex conditions. Always in private delivery of healthcare, be it in the U.K. or the U.S.A., the private sector is interested in speed and volume and profit. This means that the public sector is left with the complex cases without any of the financial offset of the simpler ones. Ultimately hospitals fail financially. ” Hurley said.

In Ontario private clinics are self-policing, unlike hospitals, which are accredited and regulated. Studies show higher death rates at private clinics. And in the United Kingdom, the costs of the private clinics have been much higher than originally forecast.

“The impacts of the consolidation of these procedures in private hands will be: the gradual closure of smaller community hospitals, higher costs, user fees and higher death rates,” said Hurley. “ “ Hospitals are the cornerstone of the Medicare system in Canada and this policy weakens them substantially. A similar policy has plunged many hospitals in Great Britain into bankruptcy. Hospital staff will campaign energetically to have the Ontario Liberals reconsider this policy in the public interest“, said Hurley.


For more information please contact:

Michael Hurley
President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE) 416-884-0770

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications
416-559-9300
Ontario must follow Dutch lead to cut preventable patient deaths
December 11 2013
TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU) today called on Ontario’s health minister to follow the lead of the Netherlands and significantly reduce the number of preventable patient deaths in the province’s hospitals.

The Dutch government program set a goal of reducing health care-related harm – including patients acquiring infections while in hospital – by 50 per cent over five years. The British Medical Journal now reports the Dutch are on target to meet their goal.

“Prioritizing patient safety and reducing preventable deaths must be taken seriously by the health minister,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley. “Contrast the determination of the Dutch with a population of nearly 17 million, to bring down death rates from health care adverse events to 1,000 with our sorry performance. Ontario, with a population of 13.5 million sees an estimated 5,000 patients die each year from infection and drug and other medical error-related events while in hospital.”

Bringing down infections rates and incidents of medical error saves lives and scarce health dollars, says Hurley. Patients who contract infections stay in hospital between 15-21 days. Prolonging patients’ stay in hospital stalls admissions because there are so few hospital beds available.

Ontario’s approach, says Hurley, “stands in stark contrast to the efforts in the Netherlands.” Ontario has a hospital bed occupancy rate of 98 per cent and our central strategy to prevent hospital acquired infections is hand washing. The Netherlands has a bed occupancy rate of about 65 per cent.

Evidence suggests that the keys to improving hospital patient safety are to lower hospital bed occupancy, increase in-house infection control and nursing staff, reduce lengths of shifts for hospital physicians, screen and treat patients in long-term care with infectious diseases like MRSA on site and decrease prescription of antibiotics, among other measures.

“It’s time for Ontario to take this leading cause of patient death seriously,” Hurley says.

For more information please contact:

Michael Hurley
President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE)
416-884-0770

Stella Yeadon
Canadian Unions of Public Employees (CUPE) Communications
416-559-9300
Security breach at provincial registry jeopardizes privacy rights of 25,000 personal support workers; ministry must act


TORONTO, Ont. – Concerns and questions are mounting over the lack of provincial government action and oversight following a serious security breach at an employer-run online registry containing the names, employment and personal information of 25,000 personal support workers (PSWs). Two police forces and fraud investigators are now on the case.

All Ontario PSWs working in home care, long-term care and hospitals will soon be mandated to register with the Personal Support Worker Registry as a condition of employment.

Recently PSWs were alerted that their personal data on the Registry had been compromised by an “unauthorized user”. Since the security breach, PSWs have been targeted by telephone solicitations attempting to extract “registration” fees and payments for insurance coverage. There are no such fees associated with the PSW Registry, which has been online since June 2012.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) opposed the ministry of health’s promotion of the Registry, as established, for several key reasons. CUPE’s concerns included the lack of government oversight and the seemingly inadequate policies and procedures for keeping PSWs’ information secure and confidential. CUPE, which represents over 20,000 PSWs province-wide also opposed the Registry being set up as a private, unaccountable, employer-managed organization.

Today CUPE called for:

• The health minister to prevent the Registry from accepting new registrants until the ministry publicly certifies that the Registry has adequate policies, procedures, and staff training in place to ensure the privacy of registrants in the future.
• The PSW Registry to cease accepting new registrants until there is a full independent investigation of the privacy policies and procedures in place at the Registry and the investigation findings made public.
• An external, independent, and expert assessment of the breach and the Registry’s privacy policies, procedures, and staff training and that the findings be made public and sent to all existing registrants.

“Committed and caring PSWs should not be subjected to an insecure system, one that exposes them to the risk of having their personal information taken by an unauthorized user, demanding money from them. The actions taken by the Registry to protect PSWs are inadequate and the province must step-in. The minister has a responsibility to protect the privacy rights of these health care workers,” says Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.

The security breach “deepens our concerns about the need and merit of this Registry, considerably,” says Michael Hurley, president of OCHU. The health minister clearly knows that Ontario’s home care system leaves tens of thousands of PSWs with inconsistent, irregular and inadequate work hours. This privacy breach puts PSWs in an even more vulnerable situation.”


For more information please contact:
Stella Yeadon
Canadian Unions of Public Employees (CUPE) Communications
416-559-9300
Demonstration Dec. 10 at Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital to keep beds staffed and open
December 6 2013
Arnprior, ON –Hospital staff from across Eastern Ontario will demonstrate at the Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital on Dec 10, to keep 6 acute care beds open, which have been primarily closed since June 2013. Summer bed closures in Arnprior now stretch into fall and winter.

“The hospital went from de-staffing 6 beds indefinitely, to saying it was only 4 beds and they are trying to send patients home faster, says Patrick Garbutt, president of CUPE local 2198. “ Now the hospital is telling nursing staff that the beds are open but they are yet to be properly staffed. More patients are held in ER “Overload” beds. The hospital plans to cut more services in physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging, which will mean longer waiting times for our patients. These are essential services which make a hospital a hospital.”

“ Hospital employees from across Eastern Ontario are extremely concerned about the ongoing closures of beds at the Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital. We see a clear pattern of patients from smaller communities being redirected to Ottawa for treatments that they should receive in their community hospital. We believe that smaller community hospitals, including Arnprior and District, are being deliberately phased down and phased out. “ says Michael Hurley, the president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).

The protest will begin at the Arnpior Quality Inn at 11:30 a.m. and proceed up Madawaska and John to the Hospital.
For more information please contact:

Michael Hurley
President Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE) 416-884-0770
CEO ERIC HANNA & THE ARNPRIOR HOSPITAL BOARD: Open up all beds and commit to keeping them opened and staffed appropriately now and into the future! Click here to sign the petition.
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OCHU Secretary-Treasurer Helen Fetterly is vice-chair of the Board of Trustees for the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) for 2012, as well as Chair of the Governance & HR Committee. Fetterly will move to the position of Board chair in 2013.

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