Tag: staff

AHS staff face job terminations and transfer offers in midst of health-care overhaul

Health-care staff are now being shifted from Alberta Health Services to the provincial health department as the province forges ahead with its controversial and sweeping restructuring plans.

The Alberta government announced its intention late last year to hive off health-care provision into four key organizations, and reduce AHS to the role of a hospital care provider.

So far, 126 AHS staff have been terminated but have been presented with “equivalent” job offers within Alberta Health, according to the province.

A government spokesperson has confirmed the impacted staff are from the departments of capital planning, system planning, continuing care and procurement.

The press secretary to Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said most of them have taken the offers and have begun their Government of Alberta jobs.

“It’s very unsettling,” said Sandra Azocar, vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).

“What we have been seeing is memos sent to front-line workers telling them that they have a couple of weeks to make a decision whether or not to stay with the government or take the layoff and recall. And so not very much … consultation is actually happening.”

According to Azocar, the union is aware so far of 39 affected members, most of them general support staff working in administrative roles.

Sandra Azocar has short dark brown hair. She's standing on a sidewalk
Sandra Azocar is vice-president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees. She calls the process ‘very unsettling.’ (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

‘Self-inflicted wounds’

A former AHS executive is worried the upheaval is leading to more anxiety among health-care staff at a time when the health system is already under intense pressure. He believes it will further disrupt Alberta’s ability to recruit and retain much needed workers — ranging from front-line staff and support workers to higher level decision-makers.

“We’re experiencing a lot of self-inflicted wounds right now and we don’t need to

Staff shortages still a limiting factor in improving N.S. health care

As the Nova Scotia government continues its effort to make good on a promise to fix health care, staffing remains a key challenge.

In recent months, the government announced several projects that experts believe will make a meaningful difference for cancer prevention and treatment in a province with the highest incidence rates in the country.

Those same experts, however, say a limiting factor they face continues to be human resources.

“We as a cancer care program have been rather successful, but we are only part of the cancer care system at large,” Dr. Helmut Hollenhorst, the medical director of the province’s cancer care program, said in a recent interview.

An inter-connected system

Hollenhorst said the cancer program is attracting “the best and brightest” who want to be a part of the evolving and emerging technology and research happening here, but that program relies on other parts of the system that face staffing shortages.

“Cancer care is so far reaching.… We are so interdependent with diagnostic imaging, with lab, with pathology, with pharmacy, with psychosocial, so we are heavily integrating and collaborating with all these partners in developing the program together.”

Late last year the provincial government announced plans to buy two new cutting-edge radiation therapy machines that allow cancer treatments to be personalized for each patient at the moment of their treatment. The province also signed a long-term agreement this month with the company that manufactures those machines, Varian, for research and treatment equipment that will help expand oncology services.

A week ago, Health Minister Michelle Thompson announced a new screening program for lung cancer. Doctors say the program will help detect the disease sooner and mean faster treatment and better outcomes for patients.

Access without a doctor

The chief of thoracic surgery noted at the time that her team

Ottawa County Health Department sees highest staff turnover in 10 years

OTTAWA COUNTY — Nearly 30 employees left the Ottawa County Health Department in 2023, the highest average of permanent employees in a decade, according to newly released data.

Health officials compiled the information and disclosed it to county commissioners after Deputy Health Officer Marcia Mansaray and Health Planning and Promotion Manager Lisa Uganski alerted the Health and Human Services Committee in December the department was struggling to fill open positions.

Adeline Hambley has been the health officer in Ottawa County since December 2022.

“Staffing capacity, hiring and retention issues were being experienced this calendar year in a way we haven’t experienced in previous years,” Mansaray said Dec. 5. “Staff turnover this year is higher in 2023 than in any previous year since 2013.”

At the meeting, Commissioners Gretchen Cosby and Allison Miedema asked Mansaray for data.

“It sounds like you’ve tracked since 2013 the turnover rate for the health department,” Cosby said. “Are we able to get a look at that, would that be something you would provide to the board of commissioners?”

Commissioner Gretchen Cosby sits during public comment  Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at the Ottawa County Offices in West Olive.

This week, Mansaray provided those answers, disclosing that 28 people left last year, more than 20% of all full-time employees in the department.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, Mansaray said the department previously saw an average of eight employee separations between 2015 and 2020. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is defined as 2020-2023 for the numbers provided, the highest number of separations was 35 in 2022 — which, at the time, only accounted for 13.6 percent of total full-time employees.

Ottawa County Health Department full-time employee separations for 2013-2023.

Mansaray defined “separations” as those who quit, retired or were fired from employment.

In a Jan. 3 email to the commissioners, Mansaray explained that of the 28, 21 were staff who left permanent positions — 15 quit, five retired and one was fired. Much institutional knowledge was lost, Mansaray said. The remaining seven positions were grant-funded and eliminated

Staff shortages crippled some emergency departments in Ontario: auditor general

The number of emergency department closures and a crisis in health-care staffing has increased and compounded in recent years, largely driven by the province’s inability to properly staff hospitals, Ontario’s auditor general has found.

A new probe into emergency departments by the province’s acting auditor general has found wait times are up, closures have become increasingly common, and some hospitals are being crippled with as many as one in four jobs left unfilled.

The audit found unplanned emergency department closures were “very rare” before 2019 and the beginning of 2020. In recent years, however, the number of closures has skyrocketed, with a lack of staff a key driver.

In a year from July 2022 to June 2023, the report recorded 203 emergency department closures in the province taking place at 23 hospitals, which were mainly in rural and remote parts of Ontario.

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Despite the rising closures, the Ministry of Health has “never collected or tracked” information on staffing shortages or vacancies in emergency rooms. The acting auditor general’s team reached out to several hospitals and “all of them experienced a significant increase in nursing vacancies” between 2019-2020 and 2023.

At some hospitals the jump in unfilled nursing jobs was stark.

William Osler Health System, which runs hospitals in Brampton and Etobicoke, had a nursing vacancy rate of six per cent in 2019-2020; by 2022-2023, it had risen to 26 per cent. Sinai Health System in Toronto saw its unfilled jobs jump from three per cent to 19 per cent. And Sick Kids in Toronto went from an eight per cent vacancy rate to 22 per cent for full-time registered nurses.

“We noted multiple reasons for high staff turnover at emergency departments, especially among nurses,” the auditor general’s report said. “Factors included the higher pay and flexibility

Sask. hospital staff call out overcrowding, unsafe conditions in the emergency department


Nursing staff at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon are calling on Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to act on unsafe conditions in the emergency department.


CTV News obtained a letter to SHA leaders signed by 118 emergency department staff at St. Paul’s addresses overcrowding, unsafe ratios of nurses to patients and the indignity experienced by patients treated in hallways because of the lack of space.


Overcrowding leads to poorer patient outcomes, longer hospital stays and higher mortality rates, the letter says, and physicians have nowhere to properly assess people.


“We have great concerns that someday soon something bad will happen in our waiting room despite our best efforts to work in this broken system.”


With nowhere to treat new patients coming in, staff had to place people in hallway beds, “which are literally just stretchers in front of nursing desks and lined down hallways, with no safety equipment for the patients, call bells or oxygen.”


On Wednesday, the Saskatoon Fire Department said hallway beds were obstructing exit doors in the hospital, in violation of national fire code requirements.


“These deplorable conditions are leading to breaches in confidentiality, lack of dignity, and unsafe care provision due to no space with appropriate monitoring for care required,” the letter says.


“Staff report tremendous moral injury due to the conditions patients are placed in. Pad changes in the hallways while staff try hold sheets around the bed, examinations in the waiting rooms, chest pain patients with no heart monitor to observe their heart, cancer diagnoses given without privacy in the waiting room, sexual assaults with no bed to examine them or provide privacy,” staff wrote.


In an emailed statement, an SHA spokesperson told CTV News that a plan to deal with capacity pressure in Saskatoon’s hospitals

Nunavut government offers more money in bid to bolster health staff

Incentives to recruit and retain health-care workers comes as part of memorandum of understanding with Nunavut union

The Nunavut government and Nunavut Employees Union hope a new incentive package will help recruit health-care workers and keep them in the territory.

They announced a memorandum of understanding Friday that includes bonuses for recruitment and retention, hourly wage premiums for difficult to recruit positions and short-staffing situations, and loan forgiveness for Nunavut health-care workers who studied and work in the territory.

Some current health-care employees will receive increased pay as a result of the agreement, and it will be retroactive.

“I don’t know if you can tell but I’m really happy today,” said Health Minister John Main.

“I tend to worry a lot when it comes to the state of health care in Nunavut and the needs of Nunavummiut, but today’s a really happy day.”

Main was at the announcement, which took place at the legislative assembly, with NEU president Jason Rochon and Premier P.J. Akeeagok.

Main said he hopes the incentives will help alleviate staffing concerns during times when health centres may face staff shortages, such as at Christmas.

He also said he hopes it will make Nunavut more competitive when it comes to recruitment and show appreciation for staff already in the territory.

“I’m just so happy for all our incredible staff,” Main said.

“We’ve looking for ways to show them they’re appreciated, that we hear them and their concerns and that we’re listening.”

Nurse retention has long been a challenge in Nunavut. Earlier this year, a former Resolute Bay nurse launched a lawsuit against the GN, alleging harassment and wrongful dismissal.

A dozen other nurses have spoken out to Nunatsiaq News over the course of this year, alleging they are overworked, not offered support, and pushed out of their

Niagara Health emergency department staff getting additional training

NEWS RELEASE

NIAGARA HEALTH

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A wave of respiratory and viral infections led to a flood of children in Emergency Departments (EDs) across Ontario last fall. This fall, emergency medical staff at Niagara Health’s (NH) three EDs are getting extra training for the rare, but potentially life-threatening, complications that can arise from conditions including RSV, flu and COVID-19.

Niagara Health (NH) has teamed up with McMaster Children’s Hospital’s Simulation, Resuscitation and Outreach Center (SiROC) and McMaster University’s Centre for Simulation-Based Learning (CSBL) for three mock pediatric emergency and education sessions. It’s the first collaboration between all three institutions since 2018.

Although pediatric respiratory emergencies are rare, they require an immediate response from skilled staff.

“We are fortunate that we don’t have critically ill infants and children to look after often. But when we do, we want to be prepared,” says Vera Girard, Emergency Department Nurse Educator and Registered Nurse.

NH nurses and physicians are participating in three pediatric resuscitation scenarios involving a seizure, respiratory failure and pneumonia with sepsis, at each of the St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland hospitals. Simulating these emergencies with high-tech mannequins from McMaster University can increase confidence levels, teamwork skills and communication. All of which, improve patient safety and outcomes.

“The simulation sessions give us a safe space to practice working together as a team, at a time when the stakes aren’t so high,” explains Girard.  “Practicing improves your performance, just like with any sports team. By practicing, we can identify supplies and equipment needs, knowledge or skill gaps, team dynamics issues and improve them so that in a real patient situation we have what we need to be at the top of our game.” 

NH hosted the first simulation at the St. Catharines hospital on Oct. 25, with another Nov. 1

Hamilton hospital network has reported 5 cases of staff ‘snooping’ to privacy watchdog this year alone

A major Hamilton hospital network has reported 11 privacy breaches, including five involving “snooping,” to the Ontario watchdog this year alone. 

The most recent case, revealed this week, resulted in Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) firing eight employees for looking through personal health information of some 4,000 patients over 12 months. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) said it’s investigating this case as well as “any systemic issues that may be at the root of it.”

HHS has reported another 10 privacy breach cases to the IPC in 2023, the IPC confirmed to CBC Hamilton. Four of those cases also involved employees snooping or looking at records out of curiosity. The IPC did not provide details about the other six cases. 

Of the four other snooping cases, half are still being investigated and half are completed, said HHS spokesperson Wendy Stewart. So far, two employees have been terminated and 42 patients whose records were looked at were notified. 

To prevent privacy breaches, HHS does monthly system audits, Stewart said.

As well, all staff, including doctors and students, are trained on “their responsibility to safeguard patient health information,” she said.

HHS reported an additional 23 privacy breaches in 2022. IPC said it dealt with all of them in the “early resolution stage,” which means they weren’t investigated either because they didn’t fall within IPC’s jurisdiction or the parties reached an informal settlement. 

Patient left with unanswered questions

Patient Roch Longueépée, 53, received a letter from HHS on Tuesday that informed him of the most recent privacy breach detected in April. However, it’s left him with more questions than answers — who accessed his patient records and why? 

“The letter they’ve sent me is unacceptable and I will be demanding more information,” said Longueépée, a Kitchener resident.

“My trust is compromised

Return of health care staff to Yellowknife will be phased, CEO says

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The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority has not yet called for all staff to return to Yellowknife but is working on a plan to resume core services in the capital.

That’s according to an email sent to staff Tuesday on behalf of Kimberly Riles, chief executive officer of the health authority, which was shared with Cabin Radio.

“Staff should not yet return to Yellowknife and should not be coming back to the community until they are directly contacted,” the email states.

“You will be contacted individually and specifically recalled when it is time as you will be required to be listed on a repatriation flight, or to be issued essential services clearance to return by road.”

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NWT Fire announced on Monday afternoon the wildfire burning to the west of Yellowknife, labelled fire ZF015, was “being held.” That does not mean it is now safe to return, the wildfire agency said, but the fire is unlikely to spread beyond expected boundaries.

While an evacuation order for the city and surrounding areas remains in place, the City of Yellowknife said Monday it had begun asking staff “critical” to re-entry efforts to return.

It remains unclear when the general public may be allowed to re-enter the municipality.

The email from the health authority states it has been working with the territory’s emergency management organization, among other government departments and agencies, on return planning. It said “several planning assumptions,” such as the availability of groceries and childcare services, need to be confirmed before it can finalize timelines.

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The email states some staff will be recalled sooner than others as service resumption will be phased with a focus on life-sustaining emergency services. Some staff may not be recalled until the general public is allowed to return to Yellowknife.

Union says N.S. 811 staff among lowest paid health-care workers in Canada – Halifax

Telehealth associates working for Nova Scotia’s 811 phone line are speaking out through their union about how current wages are leading to difficulties retaining and recruiting workers, as a frequent turnover rate continues to impact the 24/7 health information service.

A release titled “811 workers speak out” from the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), which is the province’s largest union, says 811 workers are amongst the lowest-paid health-care workers in Canada.

The employees, who offer health advice, the transferring of more urgent calls to 911, and assistance in adding residents to the waitlist for a primary healthcare provider, currently make $18.44 an hour. The calculated living wage for Halifax, where the employees are based, is $23.50.

According to the province’s website, 325 patients receive care from an 811 nurse on a regular basis.

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“We are experiencing higher than normal call volumes. It will take longer than usual to respond to your call,” a disclaimer on the service’s website read on Saturday.

Hugh Gillis, first vice president at NSGEU, said telehealth workers are currently under “extreme” pressures due to the position’s around-the-clock nature.

“It is unconscionable that these workers are making less than a living wage,” he said in the release.

There are currently only 17 telehealth associates working in Nova Scotia. They are employed by Emergency Medical Care Inc., which is contracted by the provincial government to operate the service.

“Staffing shortages have been so acute that workers have had to be mandated to work overtime, which is leading to worker fatigue and burn-out, and jeopardizing the service,” NSGEU’s release added.

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In an interview with Global News, Gillis said he continues to hear from workers that it’s becoming increasingly challenging to live in Halifax with their current pay.

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