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«UNDERSTAFFED AND UNDER PRESSURE A reality check by Ontario health care workers October, 2005 UNDERSTAFFED AND UNDER PRESSURE A reality check by ...»

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There are days I don’t know if I’m coming or going. It is unbelievable. I am stressed. There used to be six of us, but now it’s down to me, and our city hasn’t gotten any smaller, just the opposite. When the province puts out its mandate and guidelines, they use those nice words, “must ensure” it is being done. So we take care of that by sending a memo to the schools and telling them they “must ensure” these things are done. So the responsibility gets passed on for vision tests, hearing tests, and of course, because of the delisting, this now comes out of parents’ pockets.


We lost our dental hygiene clinic. It was running like a top – really awesome in its service quality. People got great care. Now, I can’t even get funding for all my toothbrushes.


Before Community Care Access Centres (CCAC), Public Health had a responsibility for seniors in the community. That was given over to CCAC but they did not have enough money. And Public Health does not have the money. So now, isolated seniors who wish to remain in their own homes are falling through the safety net.


On weekends, public health nurses available to new mothers and babies are minimal or non-existent. Babies are born seven days a week, not just Monday to Friday.

There needs to be more funding for more staff. If a mother is having problems nursing, we need to be available and if possible visit in the home. Babies dehydrate rapidly. It is rare to have a breastfeeding clinic open on the weekend now. Even so, many women cannot get there. Our public health staff should be in the hospitals talking with new

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We are supposed to deliver prevention and health-based education programs but we don’t really have enough money to do it. If all the units could do this, it would reduce expenditures for other parts of the health care system. The province should understand this. It is part of their legislation.


There was a high rate of teen pregnancy and infection in the former City of York.

We had a sexual health clinic in the high school and it was booked solid every time we opened. You could really see the impact – young women getting tested for sexual health, getting educated about infections, accessing services. It was really having a major impact. Then they had a sexual health “redesign.” It couldn’t have been based on need of community because they would have expanded it. No, they closed it. Now we’re back to seeing the rise of teen pregnancy and infections.


Public safety was supposed to be a priority

We urgently need more public health inspectors. In our area, we are short at least three inspectors. They are responsible for so much – water, food inspection, sanitation, communicable diseases, rabies, and more. You have to ask yourself what is not getting done. It’s not a good situation.


TB is the new epidemic. It is not cured. It is contained within the body. When you get older, it often liberates. We used to do TB screenings in schools. We used to have clinics. We used to test. And even though it is back and thriving, we’re not treating it as

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When we are down staff, important things that protect the public just don’t get done. The province mandates minimum food inspection frequencies. It’s an important function of Public Health. The public can be exposed to increased risks. It is our job to check the cleanliness of the premises, temperatures, and all the elements to ensure that food is handled properly. Some places need to be baby sat because they are clued out or they just don’t care. Places don’t get inspected if there is a shortage of staff.

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There is no health care without people. The Ontario government must immediately and significantly increase staffing numbers in all sectors.

For starters, the provincial government must:

• Declare an immediate moratorium on layoffs in hospitals.

• Establish a required minimum standard of 3.5 hours per day of nursing and personal care for residents in nursing homes and homes for the aged.

• Establish required minimum standards for staffing with appropriate complement of full-time workers in all health care sectors.

If the McGuinty government continues to hide behind the Mike Harris health cuts and does not immediately and significantly increase staffing numbers in all sectors, more Ontarians will be harmed.

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