Union Responds To SAH Layoffs


Cutting Front Line Health Care Workers Not The Solution to SAH Funding Shortfall

Unifor Local 1359, a committed health care union, made it clear today that it is extremely disappointed with the recent restructuring announcement by the Sault Area Hospital which will result in 19 full time and 15 part time front line Unifor positions being eliminated. But what is more disappointing is the fact that the Sault Area Hospital is going to double the amount of supervisors on their payroll.

“We find the layoff situation to be unacceptable at this time in light of a report last year from the same hospital citing there was over $1,000,000 in surplus funds…” stated Laurie Lessard-Brown, President of Unifor Local 1359 which represents the office and clerical and service staff at and the Sault Area Hospital.

Lessard-Brown states the Union has been told that the hospital is predicting a funding shortfall next year and has come up with a restructuring plan that would see a net loss in positions for the Union but a net gain of 5 non-union supervisory/managerial positions.

“Increasing the number of supervisory staff while eliminating 34 of our front line workers that actually carry out the work within the hospital will do nothing to improve patient care services. In fact, while the Sault Area Hospital indicates their overriding goal is improved care to their patients it is our opinion that their plan will have the opposite effect. Decreasing hands-on workers in our opinion is not going to improve patient care here in Sault Ste. Marie. Increasing supervisory staff will not reduce wait times. Unifor insists this money must be reinvested in the front line to reduce long wait times and increase the level of patient care our citizens deserve.”

The restructuring plan announced to hospital staff last month included bed closures, the creation of short-stay and outpatient clinics, as well as an increase in supervisory staff overall.
“Our Union is well aware of the tight financial restraints placed on Ontario hospitals as well as those faced by the Sault Area Hospital. We know that there are areas that can improve efficiency. What we’re saying is that efficiency shouldn’t trump patient care. And by cutting front-line workers they’re doing just that.”

Unifor is currently in discussions with the Sault Area Hospital urging the rethinking of this flawed restructuring plan that will in its opinion reduce the level of healthcare services available to our most vulnerable populations – the elderly and the sick. Cutting front line workers is not acceptable.

Unifor Local 1359 has over 1359 members and represents the City of Sault Ste. Marie Paramedics, Sault Area Hospital, Extendicare Van Daele and Maple View Long Term Care Homes, LLB Management Inc., Brinks Canada, USW Admin and Support Staff, Carillion Ellis Don, Lady Dunn Health Centre Wawa, St. Joseph’s General Hospital Elliot Lake, Camillus Centre Elliot Lake and Hillside Park Retirement Residence Elliot Lake.
Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 300,000 members across the country, working in nearly every major sector of the economy. Founded Labour Day weekend in 2013 by the joining together of the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Unifor is dedicated to improving the lives of all working Canadians.