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Hospital Support Newsletter – Autumn 2019

OPSEU Hospital Support

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Message from the President

The Ford government is back from a five month break and we may finally start getting a nuts and bolts picture of how his health care policies will affect front-line services. So far the picture doesn’t look good. The Conservatives are falling back in time to the days of Mike Harris.

They’re not only gutting our health care system directly, but they’re also putting added strain on the system thanks to its long list of short-sighted policies that harm both patients and health care workers. They’re cutting billions of dollars in health care spending while the funding they continue to provide doesn’t keep up with either the growing and aging population or the rate of inflation.

Premier Ford says he wants to end so-called “hallway health care” and yet the Ontario Hospital Association reported last month that hospital overcrowding hit a record high this June. How does the Premier think this situation is going to get better by reducing staff and services?

The government’s planned merger of Ontario’s fourteen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) into a “super agency” opens the door to privatization and has already resulted in the loss of hundreds of administrative and support staff positions. Let us not forget, Mike Harris spent $3.9 billion on restructuring and ended up saving just $800-million.

And for the staff who do remain, many are under the threat of legislation that will cap their future wages. The government claimed that there were “consultations” about limiting wage increases with labour unions. These so-called “consultation” sessions were with a bunch of overpriced Bay Street lawyers. They were nothing more than a smokescreen against a possible court challenge.

On Nov. 4, First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida appeared before a legislative committee reviewing the wage bill and forcefully and effectively made the case that a wage cap will provide the government with no real savings.

Whether it’s restructuring, privatization or wage caps, OPSEU will continue to hold this government accountable for its decisions and do everything possible to push back and push back hard, you can bank on it.

We need all 165,000 members of this union to stand as one and say a loud NO to this government’s poor decisions that are plunging our already strained health care system into a crisis.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas

President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Meet your Sector Executive:

Jill McIllwraith, Chair


Lauren MacLaren, Secretary


Lisa Hovinga, Treasurer


Jonathan Hopkins, Vice Chair


Harjinder (Harry) Sangha, Division/Sector Executive Collective Bargaining


Christine Marshall, Health & Safety


Rose-Anne Faubert, Education and Communications



Joint Health Care Bargaining Conference

On October 3-4, 2019, several members from the Hospital Support sector took part in the Joint Health Care Bargaining Conference along with members from sectors 8 (Long-Term Care) and 18 (Mental Health and Addictions). This conference offered presentations and insights into interest arbitration, psychological hazards in our workplaces, Bill 124 (the Ford government’s proposed wage restraint legislation) and the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act (PSLRTA).

Additionally, during our sector breakout session, our members received presentations from Michele Haber (OPSEU Research Officer) and Marc Casey (OPSEU Negotiator) which focused on how to prepare for bargaining and how the bargaining units in our sector have done over the last two years. It was informative and showed very clearly that our sector has made considerable gains in recent years to improve our collective agreements. We want to thank all of the members who participated and look forward to the next bargaining conference.

Get your flu shot

  • Flu is a colloquialism for influenza. The flu is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses A or B. Most people who get the flu recover completely in one to two weeks, but some people develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia.

Flu Facts

  • it’s incredibly contagious, it can spread quickly and easily
  • before you even know you have the flu you can pass on the flu to others
  • can affect both the healthy but most of all the young children/ adults 65+, pregnant women and chronic health patients
  • 12,000 hospitalizations and 35,00 deaths are from the flu (according the Ministry of Health)

Get Vaccinated

 It can weaken or kill the virus and has benefited millions of Canadians since 1946.

MYTHS are MYTHS – you can NOT get the FLU from the flu vaccine.

Mental Health and Wellness

According to the Ministry of Health mental health affects all Canadians at some point in their lives; this includes friends, family members, and colleagues regardless of age, culture, or income level.

Mental Health Facts

Mental Health Commission of Canada (2013). Making the case for investing in mental health in Canada. www.cmha.ca/fast-facts-about-mental-illness

1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.

49 per cent of people have never gone to a doctor about the problem even if they feel they are depressed/ they have anxiety or even suffering in silence.

By the age of 40 about 50 per cent of the population of Canada will have had a mental illness.

Value Your Wellness

A great way to improve issues with mental health is focusing on your overall wellness.

Improve your nutrition by eating your main meal before going to work, avoid high-fat and fried foods, skip high-processed snacks, cut down on caffeine, drink more water, and most importantly take active breaks. Breaks help you recharge and increase productivity, innovation, and creativity; avoiding breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) provides most employees with one 30 minute meal break for every five hours of work. This meal break must be uninterrupted and does not have to be paid. Employees may also request to split this 30 minute period into two 15-minute breaks.

 Meet OPSEU’s Newest Member – BPS sector facility service dog

Meet Yzer, one of the dedicated young service dog being sponsored by OPSEU’s BPS sector. Working together with National Service Dogs, OPSEU can now help support our members as well as the clients we treat. For more details please visit: https://opseu.org/multimedia/meet-yzer-the-opseus-bps-sector-facility-service-dog/

Who’s in Bargaining?

Local – Employer

209 – Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation

227 – Headwaters Health Care Centre

469 – St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre for the Hotel Dieu Site (FT)

469 – St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre for the Hotel Dieu Site (PT)

Upcoming events – BPS Conference

November 15-17 in Toronto

The theme of this year’s conference is “Work, Life, Balance and Beyond – Mental Health; building awareness and breaking the stigma”. At least one in every five people are affected by some form of mental illness. The remaining four will know a friend, family member, co-worker, or acquaintance that struggles with their mental health. Organizations must build capacity to support people with mental health concerns because early identification and support will typically lead to the continued wellbeing of an employee. We believe this conference will help us break barriers surrounding mental health.

OPSEU looks out for – ALL worker bees! 

Bees are ecological heroes. We rely on bees to pollinate the food we eat and the trees, flowers and plants that support our ecosystem. Keeping Ontario healthy and strong is at the heart of everything public sector workers do. That’s why we started the Bee OPSEU initiative – providing space for beehives on our buildings.

Visit www.opseu.org to learn more!

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