Monthly Archives: January 2017

Grey Bruce Labour Council Robert White Social Justice Award Application 2017

2017-rwsj-award-application2017 letter-Robert White Award- Affiliate Presidents


Studies back hospital cleaners’ call for increased staffing to prevent hospital infection deaths

Studies back hospital cleaners’ call for increased staffing to prevent hospital infection deaths

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Jan 23, 2017

With provincial funding for Ontario hospital services falling for years, understaffing is getting worse in hospital environmental services, with reports of layoffs and cuts occurring regularly, a survey of front line cleaning staff has found. Concerns are growing among environmental service workers that Ontario hospitals do not have the capacity and enough cleaning staff to keep bedrails, mattresses, taps, door handles and chairs sterilized and bacteria free.

In the fall of 2016, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) completed a survey of 421 hospital housekeeping staff from over 60 hospitals right across Ontario. Hospital-Acquired Infections: Stop Preventable Deaths, that melds the survey findings with recent public health agency and other research reports, was released in Windsor today.

The survey revealed a disturbing pattern of speed up, working short, high levels of stress and injury at work.  A large majority (78 per cent) report that more duties have been added to their work. Accordingly, a large majority (76 per cent) report working at a faster rate.  Over half believe the situation is unsafe. As well, 40 per cent of hospital locals report that hospital environmental service hours have been cut, in the last year alone.

70 per cent of housekeeping staff also report working short. This occurs when staff who are off of work for vacation, sick leave, training, or other reasons are not replaced.

Infection can easily spread from patient to patient through personal touch or by touching contaminated shared surfaces. “There just aren’t enough cleaning staff to properly clean patient rooms, bathrooms and common areas to prevent infection. Because we are often working short, we are given additional duties and workloads for cleaning staff are enormous. Increasing staffing levels would go a long way to ensuring a safer environment for patients/clients, families, staff, physicians and volunteers,” says Nicholas Black a hospital cleaner.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that more than 200,000 patients get infections every year while receiving healthcare in Canada and that more than 8,000 of these patients, more than 3,000 of them Ontario patients, die as a result.

“These are preventable deaths. But government and hospital policies are making this growing threat even worse. Patient safety, and reducing the risk of acquiring and transmitting infection should be the priority, not cutting costs on environmental cleaning,” says Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) 1st Vice-President Louis Rodrigues.

Scientists and doctors have raised concerns about the growing resistance to antibiotic treatment of hospital acquired infections. Several recent academic studies corroborate what hospital cleaners are experiencing on the ground. One 2014 study noted that cleanliness in hospitals can be characterized as less than optimal. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents did not judge their hospital to be sufficiently clean for infection prevention and control purposes.

Another 2014 study revealed nearly half of Canadian hospital environmental service managers reported that they had enough personnel to satisfactorily clean their hospital. Only 5.2 per cent strongly agreed there were sufficient housekeeping personnel. The study concluded environmental services “staffing deficits mean that the cleaning necessary to prevent and control nosocomial infections will not be accomplished with the requisite frequency and thoroughness.” CUPE surveys of housekeepers and locals indicate the situation has gotten worse, not better, since the 2014 academic studies through cuts and creeping privatization.

“There is common understanding between the researchers and the environmental cleaning staff in our hospitals that cleanliness must be improved to keep patients safer. The evidence indicates that if this was accomplished, then infection rates would decline and fewer people would die,” says Rodrigues.

Ontario Nurses’ Association Calls a Code on Health-care Funding, RN Cuts, Workplace Violence Against Nurses

January 9, 2017

TORONTO – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is getting loud about the health-care system concerns of front-line registered nurses, calling a code to highlight issues with health-care funding, registered nurse cuts and the violent attacks on registered nurses and allied health professionals.

“ONA has launched public awareness campaigns: Code Blue – to signify our concern that inadequate funding is risking the survival of our publicly funded, publicly provided health-care system, and Code White – to reveal the painful reality of workplace violence against nurses, whenever and wherever they are providing care,” said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN.

“In health care, a Code Blue indicates a cardiac arrest,” she explains. “We are concerned that years of inadequate funding and the resulting RN cuts are flat-lining patient care. A Code White indicates that violence is imminent or occurring and that nurses – and their patients – are at risk of being injured.”

Codes Blue and White are being called in movie theatres, on radio and transit and through social media across Ontario.

McKenna says that, “we simply cannot continue to cut our highly skilled front-line RNs, or allow health-care professionals to be beaten, punched, kicked, scratched or stabbed while working to provide the care our patients rely on. As funding remains inadequate and RN positions are cut from hospitals, attacks on nurses rise. The vast majority of ONA’s 62,000 members report having experienced physical violence in the workplace.”

McKenna notes that there was an 11-per-cent increase in lost-time injuries due to violence in 2015. Injuries due to workplace violence occur eight times more frequently in the health-care sector than in manufacturing and 68 times more than in the construction industry. Ontario cut more than 1,600 RN positions in a two-year period, the loss of more than three million hours of RN care.

McKenna says, “The truth hurts – when nurses aren’t safe, their patients and families aren’t safe either. We need adequate funding, appropriate RN staffing levels, and accountable leadership among health-care employers. This would go a long way to curing what ails the system.”

“The public can answer these codes by speaking out at”

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

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For more information: Ontario Nurses’ Association
Sheree Bond (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430; cell: (416) 986-8240;
Melanie Levenson (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369; cell: (416) 801-8958;
Visit us at:;;

This news release was sent to the provincial media today by the Canadian Nuclear Workers Council.   Pickering a key low-cost source of electricity in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan   Nuclear Workers launch

Pickering a key low-cost source of electricity in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan
Nuclear Workers launch
To mark the one-year anniversary of the Ontario Government’s decision to operate Pickering to 2024, the Canadian Nuclear Workers Council (CNWC) has launched an online effort to provide the facts about this important component of the province’s energy future, while giving Ontarians an opportunity to voice their support. 
On Jan. 11, 2016, the Ontario Government announced Ontario Power Generation’s Pickering facility would operate until 2024 as a critical element of Ontario’s energy supply mix, generating low-cost, reliable electricity while supporting jobs, economic growth, clean air and a reliable supply of Cobalt-60. This announcement was reiterated in the Speech from the Throne and it is important the facts about the incredibly positive role this facility plays in the province are well understood, said David Shier, National Director of the CNWC.
“The Wynne Government made this decision after conducting an in-depth cost-benefit analysis of all electricity options in the province,” Shier said. “Pickering Nuclear supports the continued reliability of Ontario’s electricity system, the life-extension programs at Bruce Power and Darlington, the delivery of the province’s near-term climate change commitments, and the assurance that electricity customers receive the full benefit of this provincially owned asset.”
Shier said the operation of Pickering to 2024 will save Ontario electricity consumers $600 million and will generate low-cost electricity while reliably providing 3,100 megawatts of carbon-free power 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“There are opposition groups spreading misinformation about this important part of our energy plan. It’s important we remind people about the facts and to allow the facility’s broad base of supporters in the Pickering/Durham areas, and across Ontario, to have their voices heard,” he said. “Pickering plays a key role in Ontario’s electricity supply mix, stimulates the economy and provides good jobs to 4,500 people in the Durham Region and surrounding areas.”
In 2016, Pickering Nuclear saved Ontario consumers $600 million as it receives only seven cents per megawatt/hour for its power, significantly less than the average residential price of 11 cents.
“Pickering does this while operating its units with the utmost safety. In fact, in 2016, Pickering was awarded a top safety rating by the independent regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. When you consider it has a lower cost to consumers than most other supply options, produces no carbon emissions, and is a reliable and safe source of power, it’s necessary to keep the Pickering facility open until 2024 as planned.”
Sign the petition and learn more at