St. B scrambles to fill 99 shifts after scheduling snafu discovered

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St. Boniface Hospital was left with nearly 100 empty clerk and health-care aide jobs following the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s labour adjustment strategy.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/12/2017 (1828 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

St. Boniface Hospital was left with nearly 100 empty clerk and health-care aide jobs following the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s labour adjustment strategy.

It wasn’t until the end of the new position-selection process that hospital officials realized not only were there 99 vacant positions left to fill but, by some confluence of events, all the vacancies were scheduled for work weekend one, while the filled positions were all set for work weekend two.

That has to be addressed, according to an interoffice memo obtained by the Free Press, if the hospital is “to provide consistent, safe patient care each and every weekend.”

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files St. Boniface Hospital asked clerks and aides to switch shifts after the problem was found.

Staff represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union were asked in the Nov. 22 memo to volunteer to permanently work an opposite weekend shift to fill the gap, which would become apparent when rotations switch Dec. 9.

So far, a WRHA spokeswoman said, 30 per cent of the vacancies have been filled.

“If needed, over the course of the next week, SBH will request staff to switch their normal weekend of work to fill any remaining gaps,” she said, adding the hospital “does not anticipate any negative impacts to patient care.”

It has, however, further soured employees frustrated by the health authority’s consolidation process, said Jeff Trager, president of UFCW local 832.

“I wouldn’t say we expected that mistakes were going to be made,” Trager said.

“But we did try to let the hospital know that with the time frame for getting this done that the errors and potential cost of those errors was high and here we are.”

The WRHA spokeswoman said nothing actually went wrong.

Per the selection process, staff make choices in order of seniority and it just so happened most chose the second weekend rotation.

“The intention of selection is to give staff members the opportunity to make the best choices for themselves and, overall, the process has gone very well across the region,” she said.

“We’re learning and adapting to the process as it unfolds.”

Still, Trager said, it is adding unnecessary demands on top of workers who’ve already been forced to take new rotations that “change their whole life.”

It’s tricky, he said, “if they have child-care issues or if they have senior-care issues. It’s very difficult to commit to working a lot of nights and weekends and evenings when you have been — for many, many years — working straight days.”

To have to change your rotation for a second time, Trager said, is “just exacerbating it.”

It’s certainly further indication the provincial government is moving too quickly, NDP health critic Andrew Swan said.

“It’s a clear sign of the lack of foresight and the lack of planning of the health-care authorities and the hospitals because of the pressure that they’ve been put under by the government,” he said.

“It’s impossible to understand how you can have this huge disparity between two (weekend shifts) if anybody had taken the time to look at this beforehand.

“It just doesn’t add up.”

While Trager said he would like to believe most workers will voluntarily switch over because they’re motivated by patient care, it’s hard to ignore how upset people are becoming.

“They’re very angry with the government decisions, some of them are angry with the WRHA, and others are angry with the hospitals themselves, which they see as their direct employer, even though the decisions are being made all the way up at the minister’s office.”

jane.gerster@freepress.mb.ca

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