Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

February 24, 2009 14:43 ET

OPSEU Hospital Professionals Warn of Shortages as Union Heads to Arbitration

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 24, 2009) - An arbitrator will decide the wages, benefits, and working conditions for more than 7,000 health care professionals at 40 Ontario hospitals as the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the participating hospitals (represented by the Ontario Hospital Association) were unable to reach an agreement last night at the bargaining table.

"Ontarians who are counting on faster results and shorter wait times will discover these goals are in jeopardy because long-standing problems in attraction and retention of Hospital Professionals are not being addressed," says Yves Shank Chair of OPSEU's bargaining team. "The hospital's own research confirms this."

The union expressed its frustration over the lack of progress with an employer whose hands were tied by Queen's Park in this round of bargaining.

The OHA came to the table offering much less than the recent agreements with the provinces doctors and nurses. That includes no job security provisions to retain needed professionals.

Hospital Professionals encompass the professions that provide diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative services. They include the Medical Laboratory Technologists and Medical Radiation Technologists who perform tests that doctors need to diagnose and treat. They are the Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians who ensure that the right medications in the proper dosages are being administered. They are the Physiotherapists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers and other treatment and rehabilitation professionals who help ensure that patients are well enough to be sent home.

"The Ontario government should be working to ensure that the hospitals' budget balancing exercises do not cut back on these highly trained, essential members of the hospital health care team," says Patty Rout, OPSEU 1st Vice-President. These are, after all, some of the highly-trained knowledge workers that the government is pegging its economic recovery on."

The Ontario Hospital Associations's 2007 Labour Market Survey shows that after nurses, Medical Laboratory Technologists are the largest occupation for which hospitals expect a growth in staffing needs. Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Respiratory Technologists, Pharmacy Technicians are also on the OHA's top ten list.

The OHA was unable to come to the table with any more than 2 per cent to cover the cost of wages, benefits, and working conditions. The Ontario government and the province's doctors reached a settlement in September 2008 with increases and attraction bonuses ranging from 3% to 7% a year over four years, depending on the specialty. Ontario's hospitals and nurses reached a settlement last spring that will increase nurses' wages by 3% this year and another 3% next year. The nurses' settlement also included significant working conditions and benefit improvements.

Contact Information

    Yves Shank
    (705) 523-6813