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Low morale, fear of layoffs for Seven Oaks hospital staff, say unions

A community-led group protested against the closure of the Seven Oaks emergency room in May.
A community-led group protested against the closure of the Seven Oaks emergency room in May. Alison MacKinnon / Global News

Seven Oaks General Hospital will be converting its emergency services to an urgent care centre this fall, and the reorganization means staff are concerned about the future of their jobs.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) told Global News that 169 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) members received deletion notices  – meaning their current jobs are being cut, but they can reapply for new positions at the urgent care centre.

“It’s important to note that deletions do not generally result in a layoff,” a WRHA spokesperson said Thursday.

“Deletion notices are issued to staff when there are material changes to positions. Most commonly, this could mean that the rotation schedule on a unit has changed, and following the terms of the collective agreement, affected rotations are ‘deleted’ and staff select positions on the new rotations based on seniority.”

READ MORE: ‘We won’t go back’: Manitoba to proceed with Seven Oaks Hospital transition

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That doesn’t help ease the concerns of the union, which represents some of the frontline workers at Seven Oaks. They say up to 80 employees could be laid off as a result of the changes.

According to CUPE 204, on Monday, staff will enter the process of picking new jobs – but president Debbie Boissonnault told 680 CJOB no new full time jobs are on the table and that staff morale is low.

“Staff morale is suffering. We don’t need a report to know that. We can see that every day, when we walk around, people are asking questions like, ‘how am I going to pay my bills? I’m going to have to find another job’,” said Boissonault.

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To add to the confusion, the Manitoba Nurses Union said many of the new rotations will be offering 12-hour shifts, rather than the current eight-hour rotations.

Union president Darlene Jackson said most members want to stick to eight-hour days, given the heavy workloads and staff shortages.

“We do have a clause in our collective agreement making sure the nurses have meaningful consultation,” said Jackson.

“When the employer posts a 12-hour schedule and the majority of the nurses say ‘we don’t want to work that’ and the employer says ‘it’s 12 hours and there’s no other choices’, we don’t consider that to be a meaningful consult at all.”

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The WRHA’s spokesperson said the process is expected to be completed in July.

WATCH: Manitoba government to proceed with Seven Oaks Hospital transition

Manitoba government to proceed with Seven Oaks Hospital transition
Manitoba government to proceed with Seven Oaks Hospital transition