Ontario’s official opposition party says it doesn’t understand how nearly 100 front-line workers at a Greater Toronto Area hospital have been laid off in the middle of a pandemic.
On Tuesday, Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. confirmed it will be laying off 97 registered nurses as a result of “a significant financial challenge.”
“Similar to some other hospitals across the province, Southlake is currently facing a significant financial challenge and has announced a series of changes to address this while maintaining the same high-quality care that we provide to the communities we serve,” a spokesperson said in a written statement. “Given the number of current and potential future clinical vacancies we have, we are hopeful to avoid any frontline involuntary employment loss at Southlake.”
“These changes are aligned to the broader health-care system transformation underway in Ontario, which emphasizes moving care into the community where it is easier for patients and families to access.”
The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), a union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, said that the loss of those health-care workers amounts to about 176,000 hours’ worth of direct patient care.
In a statement also released on Tuesday, ONA President Vicki McKenna said that she couldn’t fathom how the health-care centre could cut front-line workers in the midst of a global pandemic and at the beginning of the flu season.
"With the second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming influenza season, which will put undue pressure on all hospitals, cutting registered nurses is completely irresponsible,” she said.
"These cuts follow on the heels of recent announcements of RN cuts at Toronto Rehab and Lakeridge Health. This needs to stop and stop now."
McKenna also called for an audit to determine the budgetary reasons for the layoffs.