Early in February it was announced as many as four full-time jobs could be cut but as many as 11 positions could be impacted through early retirement and attrition.
Hospital president and CEO Paul Collins stressed at the time the job losses won’t directly affect patient care.
How is that possible? Everything the hospital does revolves around patient care. What else is it in business for?
After all, STEGH’s mission statement promises “To deliver an excellent patient care experience . . .”
Notably absent from early discussions with the hospital was any mention of closing the outpatient lab and reducing its gastric diagnostic imaging services from four days a week to two, resulting in reduced part-time hours for medical radiology technologists.
That only surfaced when T-J reporter Jennifer Bieman — acting on information provided by an OPSEU representative — pressed hospital administration for further details on the cutbacks.
That’s the front-page story in the Feb. 20 edition of the T-J.
The key here is a reduction in staff hours.
Following mention of the cuts Feb. 6 in this corner, hospital spokesperson Nancy Lawrence posted a rebuttal by Collins which included numerous talking points highlighting staff increases — all noted in percentages and with no way of substantiating the numbers.
So we emailed Lawrence with the following request.
“Can I obtain full-time/part-time employee numbers from 2010 and as off today in the following four areas:
overall staff, housekeeping staff, nursing staff and management.”
I was forwarded a chart utilizing full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers — quite frankly useless in any discussion of actual full- versus part-time employees at the hospital.
The use of FTEs is a corporate way of hiding the fact full-time positions are being supplanted by part-time and casual employees with limited or no benefits.
So, we again requested this breakdown.
Lawrence’s response: “I’m not sure it does make a substantial difference as I don’t really know what story it is that you are pursuing. I’d like to understand just what it is that you are trying to learn and the context of the story you are working on.”
We are simply requesting the number of full-time employees and the number of part-time employees in those four areas over a five-year comparison.
Is this important information?
OPSEU staff representative Carol Warner sure believes it tells a story. We talked to her at length Friday.
“A full-time equivalent could be two part-time positions, that’s the way they count it,” Warner advised.
“It’s a slippery slope downward,” Warner continued. “Full-times are becoming part-times and part-times are becoming casuals.
“Even in this recent layoff scenario, I know one person for sure was offered the option of taking an early retirement or drop to part-time. And in a couple of other situations, people were already regular part-time so they worked 20 hours a week and now they are being dropped to a casual list.
“So whether she stays or goes, they are eliminating a full-time position.”
Fobbing off FTE info on us is nothing more than sleight-of-hand on the part of hospital administration.
If it takes a Freedom of Information request, we will get the breakdown on full-time versus part-time/casual employees.
WHY IS IT THAT . . .
Tuesday evening, mayor and council were unanimous in giving the green light to demolition of the Sutherland Press building, citing public safety concerns.
All nodded in agreement this should be over-riding justification for tearing down the former Noble Manufacturing Co. building that dates back to 1913.
Council accepted the tender submitted by Schouten Excavating of Watford, Ont. — in the amount of $101,135 — for demolition of what remains of the four-storey structure owned by David McGee of Toronto.
And yet in May of 2008, a special meeting of council was called to discuss closing a portion of Talbot Street in front of the Sutherland Press building.
Cliff Barwick, mayor at the time, advised the roadway would be barricaded “due to concerns about public safety for pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The building is unsafe and our primary responsibility is to protect the public.”
In the months following, Barwick was pilloried by the head of the Downtown Development Board — later to become Ald. Mark Cosens — and members of the public, who challenged the mayor’s reasoning and the validity of concerns about the structural integrity of the four-storey hulk.
Will this council be subject to the same sideline criticism?
Let’s not forget the real culprit in all of this is McGee.
And time to recall this observation from Justice David Little who, that summer, cleared the way for demolition of the Sutherland Press building.
“The city is effectively being held hostage, as are its citizens, by an apparent shell corporation that has proven itself unreliable … The city is free to proceed with demolition.”
THE READERS WRITE
Haven’t heard from Bud Lorch in some time, however he checked in recently to prod the fire in the courthouse parking panshard and the city’s seeming reluctance to ticket offenders.
“I wonder how many of these ‘infractors’ also display a ‘borrowed’ Accessible Parking Permit at convenient times. It’s interesting to note that misuse of that particular permit will result in fines ranging from $300 to $5,000 and revoked APP privileges.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s not the hands-on workers that should be laid off. If management is looking for money, it should start with executive salaries. There’s one manager at STEGH who makes more than $230,000 a year for a part-time job. Salaries like that can’t be justified.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas commenting on cutbacks announced at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope