Job cut fears: Hospital workers worry as budget review nears release

But the head of Health Sciences North’s biggest union says he thinks the hospital can trim positions without direct layoffs

By Carol Mulligan for

While some employees of Health Sciences North fear they will receive bad news about layoffs this week, the president of CUPE Local 1623 does not believe anyone will actually receive a pink slip.
Union and non-union employees are waiting for the final report of a third-party validation review of HSN’s 2018-2019 budget, ordered three months ago by the North East Local Health Integration Network.
Kevin Empey, advisor at St. Michael’s Hospital, Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, was to oversee the review and BDO Canada LLP was to undertake the analysis for it. The team was to report directly to the LHIN’s chief executive officer, Jérémy Stevenson, and provide a report to the NE LHIN no later than June 30, this coming Saturday.
Dave Shelefontiuk said HSN president and chief executive officer Dominic Giroux promised him earlier this year that his CUPE members would be notified before the report was made public. Shelefontiuk is convinced the hospital will be able to trim about 75 union positions without causing direct layoffs. Employees with the most seniority would have to be offered severance packages of up to a year’s wages in the process though, and Shelefontiuk doesn’t see that happening.
Neither the hospital nor the LHIN would confirm that a draft report has been presented to them. In a statement, the LHIN would only say that the report is in its final stages and is “on track” to meet its deadline.
HSN issued the following statement in response to questions from “Dominic Giroux and our senior leadership team have been actively involved in the validation process and we look forward to receiving the final report from the NE LHIN on June 30.”
Nickel Belt New Democrat MPP France Gélinas, her party’s Health critic, said Monday that she has heard about the content of the draft report, but is not at liberty to speak publicly about it.
As the June 30 deadline draws near, Gélinas said many families – of both union and non-union employees – fear they will be among those whose jobs are being cut.
The LHIN ordered the review after HSN drafted a budget for the current fiscal year with an $11.1-million deficit. HSN officials have permission from the hospital’s board of directors to run a deficit of only one per cent of its operating budget – or about $4.9 million.
Gélinas said she believes the validation review was ordered before the June 7 provincial election in an attempt to save the seat of Liberal MPP Glenn Thibeault by not announcing job cuts until after Sudburians had voted. Thibeault lost the riding to the New Democrats’ Jamie West.

Carol Mulligan is an award-winning reporter and one of Greater Sudbury’s most experienced journalists.

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