Letter to the Editor: Seniors, staff feel the pain from budget cuts

Dear Editor,

Health care staffing is critical to safe, reliable care. I feel the article “Care home standards raise concerns” (The Reminder, May 3) wrongfully portrays our health care aides.

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I have worked beside these incredible individuals for over 10 years. Every day I am amazed at how they make it their personal responsibility to provide outstanding patient care.

Whether it is the gentle mannerism put forth while being pushed to the limits of mental and physical exhaustion, developing incredible bonds with those who they so genuinely care for, or being a strong advocate for some of our communities’ most vulnerable population, our health care aides go above and beyond and deserve recognition.

Working short hurts everybody. Before the Northern Health Region’s decision to not replace sick calls, we would normally only receive a handful of heavy workload reports monthly. Since implementation of this practice, we’ve had 19 filed in March and 27 in April due to being short staffed.

CUPE Local 8600, the union that represents health care support workers, has made multiple attempts to try and work with the NHR to find alternatives to reducing the quality of care in our facilities. Employees have been voicing their concerns since the first day, and families are very understandably outraged.

I also feel as if the comments from the communications coordinator for the NHR are an attempt to dismiss valid public concern.

The “contingency plan” mentioned is utilized on days the facilities are not working short. The incredibly heavy workload pushes the limits of our members on days they are fortunate enough to be fully staffed.

Yes, there is “a daily report time with staff at which time concerns can be raised by staff regarding clients.” Not one day has gone by where staff have not strongly voiced their concerns of the effect this decision is having on those they are caring for.

As for implying that 14 people are on the main floor of the Northern Lights Manor for the dayshift, well, occasionally at best, and a good portion are behind closed doors.

These “financial sustainability” cuts run deep, but to impose this on the men and women who built this wonderful community during their greatest time of need is unacceptable!

The NHR has made it very clear they will not change this practice. CUPE Local 8600 will be taking action on this in the coming weeks, and will be looking for community support to bring volume to the voices of those who can’t speak for themselves.

Christine Lussier


CUPE Local 8600

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