November 25, 2015 2:07 pm
Updated: November 26, 2015 12:54 am

Victorian Order of Nurses shutting down operations in 6 provinces

WATCH ABOVE: In Alberta the program cuts at VON Canada mean layoffs for 10 full time and 95 part time employees. Global’s Heather Yourex-West reports.

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OTTAWA – The Victorian Order of Nurses is shutting down its operations in six provinces and cutting the size of its head office.

The non-profit organization said it will close programs in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

It has filed for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

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“We were at a crossroads where we needed to become leaner and more efficient in order to provide quality services that our partners can afford,” said Jo-Anne Poirier, President and CEO of the Victorian Order of Nurses in a teleconference call.

The Ottawa-based organization, that’s been running for more than 115 years, said in a news release that its head office will shrink by 23 per cent.

Scroll down to see how services in your region will be affected in the document below

In total, it said in a news release that 352 of 6,446 employees are affected by the restructuring.

WATCH: The news that Victorian Order of Nurses was shutting down programs in New Brunswick came as a shock to clients showing up at locked doors. Global’s Andrew Cromwell reports.

VON’s operations in Ontario and Nova Scotia, its two main service areas, are not included in the restructuring of its operations and will remain intact.

“The provinces where we’re ceasing operations we had a relatively small presence, and the reason we’re staying in Ontario and Nova Scotia is that we are quite prevalent there,” said Poirier.

Poirier added it’s been a challenge for it to keep up with a growing number of clients with the resources it has.

VON Canada provides home nursing, corporate health and home support services across the country.

Watch below for an episode of Undercover Boss from Sept. 2013, which features VON Canada:

Alberta healthcare watchdog Friends of Medicare claimed the closures are proof “experiments in private care must be ceased.”

“This is now twice since 2013 [Alberta Health Services] AHS has lost a contract for home care services,” executive director Sandra Azocar said in a statement.

“Home care should not be subject to the pressures of a competitive market.”

“It’s clear that instead of a race to the top for quality care, we have a race to the bottom to slash costs which squeezes out not-for-profit groups like VON.”

The group said the privatization led to inadequate care hours, bottom-level wages, high staff turnouver and lack of proper training.

“Stability, proper oversight, regulations, and funding under our public system is needed,” Azocar said.

“We are calling on the government today to enact a review of our home care system, to provide adequate funding, and ultimately transition to a comprehensive, universal and publicly delivered system to avoid these types of situations in the future,” Azocar added.

An Alberta Health Services spokesperson said VON provides services in Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, and is working to transition clients to “new service providers.”

“There have been a small amount of home-care services contracted to VON,” program officer David O’Brien said. “In addition, VON has provided some adult day support programs, which are programs for wellness and socialization for seniors in the community.”

“We’ve been working already today, trying to get in touch with some clients and ensuring that they know that we’re going to try and minimize the disruption to services and transition them over to a new service provider as soon as possible.”

O’Brien, who works with community, seniors, addiction and mental health programs at AHS, said all clients should be transferred to new service providers by early December.

Calgary’s Kerby Centre offers similar programs to the ones VON is closing. Executive director Luanne Whitmarsh said the centre has additional capacity for its adult day programs and foot clinics for people impacted by the VON closures. You can learn more about services at the Kerby Centre here.



With files from Global News

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