Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

March 17, 2008 13:54 ET

Diagnostic Errors Could Rise if Ontario's Lab Shortages are not Addressed: OPSEU

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 17, 2008) - Medical diagnostic errors could rise if Ontario fails to draft a plan to address growing shortages of laboratory professionals says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"The province is sleepwalking on this issue," says Rout, OPSEU 1st Vice-President. "Between mergers, privatization and funding shortages, Ontario could soon be in a similar situation to Newfoundland."

A public inquiry is set to begin next week to determine how a Newfoundland lab incorrectly diagnosed more than 300 breast cancer patients. The inquiry is expected to hear of high staff turnover and strained resources that put patient's lives at jeopardy.

The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science estimates that 43.7 per cent of general Medical Laboratory Technologists in Ontario will be eligible to retire by 2015 - a rate than cannot be replaced through existing educational programs.

Ontario has substantially complicated the situation by contracting most of its community lab work to private facilities, which are now in competition for a declining pool of technologists.

The threat of constant mergers has also discouraged new graduates into a profession where job security remains elusive despite the shortages. The Eastern Ontario Regional Lab Association - a project to amalgamate 16 hospital labs into a single entity - recently released a plan which calls for reductions in its workforce.

"Its time the province realized the health system is more than just doctors and nurses," said Rout, herself a licensed laboratory technologist. "Laboratory professionals are the third largest medical occupation in Canada. While the government has correctly set a target of 70 per cent full-time employment for nurses, it has set no such targets for laboratory technologists, despite the fact that about half still face casual and part-time employment."

OPSEU is urging the government to introduce a plan before more laboratory technologists leave both the public system and Ontario.

Contact Information

    Rick Janson
    (416) 443-8888 ext 8383