FTE numbers a ‘slippery slope downward’ at STEGH


city_scope_logo-cmykThey were initially announced two weeks ago and after badgering by the Times-Journal, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital administration is finally being a little more upfront on the extent of measures needed to overcome a $1 million budget shortfall for 2016/17.
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.

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2016 city budget “generally preserves” existing service levels to the public


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Deliberations begin 3:30 p.m. Monday into the proposed 2016 capital and operating budgets for St. Thomas.
In his opening remarks contained in the budget binder, director of finance David Aristone indicates at this stage of the process, city ratepayers can anticipate a 2.32% hike in the property tax levy.
The proposed levy for this year is $48,721,653, up from the actual 2015 levy of just over $47 million.
Proposed capital projects this year would require almost $21.8 million in funding. Continue reading

Tom, Bob . . . talk to us, we’re waiting


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The hand is on full-throttle damage control over at Community Living Elgin and as Times-Journal reporter Jennifer Bieman wrote Thursday, a news release sent our way prompted more questions than provided answers.
You have to chuckle when a release opens with the qualifier the organization “would like to clear up any misunderstandings, or inaccuracies in the recent articles and media statements.”
Hey, the confusion isn’t at this end, Tom and Bob.
That would be Community Living Elgin executive director Tom McCallum (no relation) and board of directors president Bob Ashcroft.
The release, by the way, was issued by the board of directors, but was unsigned. Continue reading

Police HQ debate set to flare up again


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The debate over whether to renovate the existing police station or construct a new, purpose-built facility will flare into life again Monday as city council deals with a report from The Ventin Group Architects.
The firm will present a pair of options to be considered should council choose to maintain the police service in the Colin McGregor Justice Building.
Trouble is, both scenarios are pricey — $15 million at the low end to $18.4 million for a major renovation/expansion.
The Ventin report details the substantial amount of work required with either option to upgrade the 1969 building.
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What we have here is a failure to communicate


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The right of a homeless man to pick up garbage in downtown parkettes sparked debate on several fronts this week, none of which has diminished the seeming absurdity of the situation.
Caught in the middle is Jason McComb, the advocate for the homeless who, as an employee of the Downtown Development Board, has done an admirable job of keeping the downtown core as neat and tidy as is possible in a disposable world.
In a conversation with Jason last week, he bemoaned the fact he was no longer welcome to clean up litter in any of the Talbot Street parkettes.
He was under the impression city CAO Wendell Graves and parks and recreation director Ross Tucker had banished him from the green spaces, based on a memo sent to the DDB this past summer.
This corner requested a copy of that correspondence for clarification.
“I understand that DDB summer students may be doing or have done some maintenance/cleaning activities within the downtown parkettes,” writes Graves.
“Given that the city has staff in place to look after these areas I would ask that the DDB students refrain from work within the park areas.”
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Is it Tea Party politics or worker choice?


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In our conversation with MPP Jeff Yurek last week, we promised to focus on his party’s white paper, “Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets.”
The talking points sent this way by Yurek’s legislative assistant William Ross stress the white paper, which was adopted last month at the PC convention in London, aims to address “the requirement that workers, as a condition of employment, be a union member; and the requirement that workers must pay dues or fees to a union in order to keep his or her job. These dues are automatically deducted from paycheques and union bosses are not required to publicly disclose how the money is spent.
“Third party, empirical economic data seem to support the idea of worker choice,” Ross points out. (The information forwarded by Yurek’s office is available at the end of this post.)
Critics like the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) warn the PC party is formally adopting U.S. Tea Party labour politics that advocate policies “that would undo the rights working people have had in this country for more than a half century.”
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We all contribute to multi-million dollar CEO compensation packages


STEGH redevelopment sketch

STEGH redevelopment sketch

This corner has railed on at length on the retire/rehire shenanigans over at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital. Some readers have even griped about CEO Paul Collins’ salary, which in 2011 was in the $205,000 range, however Collins could earn a maximum of $321,950 in his final year before retirement in 2016.

Well,that’s chump change compared to what the Top 100 private sector CEO’s pocket in salaries and bonuses, as witness this comparison documented in a recent post on the OPSEU blog here and reprinted below . . .

As we flail managers in the public sector for their annual bonuses, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reminds us who is hauling down the really big bucks at everyone’s expense.
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