Representatives from The Ottawa Hospital say 35 positions will be cut across its three campuses in order to balance its 2015-16 budget, with more possible cuts to come by March 2016.
In 2012, the Ontario government instituted a funding freeze for hospitals in an effort to make the system more efficient and decrease the Ontario deficit.
Ontario hospitals have been cutting jobs in the last two years, all hotly contested by employees, unions, and patients.
The Ottawa Hospital cuts began April 1 as part of a reduced-spending plan that aims to cut $26 million from the hospital’s budget. The hospital’s budget for 2015-16 is $1.1 billion dollars.
The affected positions will primarily be in nursing, administration and support, and will include both unionized and non-unionized positions.
The cuts themselves will save the hospital $14 million. The remainder will come from contract re-negotiations with services and suppliers, as well as hospital space rental.
The cuts will affect the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario as well, laying off more than 50 registered nurses, according to a March 18 press release from the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
While The Ottawa Hospital has indicated it is committed to higher quality care at lower cost, the reality for patients remains to be seen.
The nurses’ association press release indicates for every patient added to a registered nurse’s workload, the likelihood of complications or even patient death rises by seven per cent.
For patients living in Centretown, it’s already difficult to deal with the fact that there is no hospital directly in the neighbourhood. For employees and new healthcare graduates looking for jobs, the situation can be dire.
Amber Harris, a Centretown resident, is graduating from Algonquin College’s medical reprocessing technician program this spring.
She says she’s worried about finding a full-time position in Ottawa in the coming months.
“I don’t think the cuts are fair to hospital staff or patients,” says Harris. “I understand they’re part of a larger issue, but I think the cuts could’ve gone toward a less important sector for the province.”
Harris adds medical support students who don’t get clinical hours have very little chance of securing a position.
“You have to have clinical hours and you have to make a good impression, or else you won’t get a job at all. Now the cuts will only make it harder,” she says.
But there will be more job opportunities in alternative healthcare, rather than traditional hospital jobs says Dr. Barbara Foulds, who leads the healthy living education initiative at Algonquin College
“Part of the Ontario government’s mandate when they decided not to increase hospital funding was to increase ways to take care of patients outside a hospital,” Foulds says.
This includes measures such as preventative health education as well as increased nutrition and fitness awareness.
“Especially for people with chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, providing at-home care can help prevent emergencies before they happen,” Foulds says.