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TORONTO – The union representing more than 225 personal service providers (PSPs) slated to lose their jobs at Bridgepoint Hospital by next fall says patient care at the hospital will suffer under staff restructuring.

Bridgepoint management officially informed CUPE Local 79 today of a plan to replace all PSPs with registered practical nurses (RPNs) by October 2009. More than 225 women and men, many from racialized groups, could lose their jobs.

“We are furious,” said Local 79 President Ann Dembinski. “We read every day about growing poverty among working people in this city, especially for women of colour. Now these women who have put their lives into providing quality care to Bridgepoint patients are being told they are disposable.”

Management’s announcement has come in the middle of negotiations, with a conciliator, for a new collective agreement, she said, noting that Bridgepoint has also been fighting its pay equity obligations for PSPs.

“To make matters worse, management is repeating its mistake from 10 years ago, when it got rid of RPNs and brought in PSPs,” she said. “We do not understand this drive from one extreme to another when patients really need a balance of care.

“We do not believe that Bridgepoint will be able to hire adequate numbers of RPNs. On the surface, it looks like they want workers with higher qualifications, but the combination of recruitment difficulties and higher salary costs is likely to lead to fewer staff on duty, even more workload issues for RNs and reduced quality of care for patients.”

Calling the restructuring plan a “travesty,” Dembinski said the union will fight to keep as many PSPs in their jobs as possible in order to ensure that all patients will have the level of personal care that they require during their hospital stay.

For more information, contact:

Ann Dembinski,  President, CUPE Local 79,   416-977-1629
Pat Daley,   CUPE Communications,   416-616-6142
Chris Samuel,  CUPE Local 79 Researcher,  416-977-1629 ext 247