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Sault Area Hospital moves ahead with job cuts

Sault Area Hospital is moving ahead with job cuts announced to staff in December. Employees were informed the cuts would begin this year and run through to March 2016.

Sault Area Hospital is moving ahead with job cuts announced to staff in December.

Employees were informed the cuts would begin this year and run through to March 2016.

SAH is facing $10 million less in funding than previously anticipated for the upcoming fiscal year (April 2015 to March 2016).

After Monday’s SAH board of directors meeting, Ron Gagnon, SAH president and CEO, told reporters the hospital is sorting through the process of which employees will be cut.

“It’s across the hospital, nursing positions and non-nursing positions, there’s management and non-management, it’s widespread across the hospital,” Gagnon said.

Unions representing SAH employees must be notified first.

“The unions were all met with, which is a requirement of collective agreements, to ensure they get notification prior to notices going to staff,” said Ila Watson, SAH vice president of transformation and chief human resources officer.

“Right now we’re working through that process…over the course of the next month or two months, by the time all the conditions of the collective agreements are met, that’s when people will know,“ Gagnon said.

 “We’re still working towards 35 full-time positions, seven part-time (being cut),” Gagnon said.

Unionized SAH staff are represented by Unifor, Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) or OPSEU.

“Definitely ONA and Unifor (employees will be affected)…I don’t believe there are any OPSEU employees affected at this stage,” Watson said.

Gagnon said it is possible some of those jobs will be cut through attrition.

“Our average attrition is about 40 people a year, and that’s always our hope (as opposed to staff losing their jobs).”

“I’m sure having some degree of uncertainty has an impact (on morale) as it always does in these types of processes, that’s why we’re trying to work our way through them as quickly as possible,” Gagnon said.

In other SAH news from Monday, the board of directors was informed the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has established a three-tier approach to Ebola management.

SAH is classified as an Ebola screening hospital, while seven other hospitals, the nearest to the Sault being Sudbury’s Health Sciences North, are classified as Ebola testing hospitals.

Four hospitals (The Hospital for Sick Children and University Health Network in Toronto, the London Health Sciences Centre and the Ottawa Hospital) have been designated as Ebola management hospitals.

“We consider it low risk, however we’ve still done the work to comply with the directives,” Watson said.

A proper isolation room has been made at SAH if a patient suspected of having Ebola reports to the emergency department, and special safeguards have been put in place in regards to extra training for staff, along with protective clothing for any staff involved with a suspected case of Ebola, establishment of special waste disposal methods and extra safety measures for EMS personnel involved in transportation of an Ebola patient to another hospital.


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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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