Capital Health’s strike threat

I am sick about the potential strike of health care workers in Capital Health. However, I don’t think we can legislate away people’s rights because they do something they’re entitled to do, but which we don’t like. That’s not good governance.

When my family member was in hospital we went through this. We watched as the hospital prepared for a strike. It’s a frightening and frustrating experience. In the end our strike was settled in the wee hours of the night. It was over so quickly I can’t remember if they actually did go out on strike or it was only for a few hours in the middle of the night.

Hopefully, in the next few hours we can avoid a strike. But if this strike ends quickly, and even if it settles hours before the deadline, I think the Premier needs to demand the resignations of senior executives at the health authority. The front line workers can’t be the only people to wear this. These executives have a history of foot dragging. Look at the nursing contracts in this province. Two year contracts took 18-, 20-, 24-months to settle. The VON contract expired 10 days after it was agreed to!

And even if a strike is averted, Capital Health’s administrators helped bring us to this situation. They should wear the blame for the angst, fear and emotional distress placed on patients and patient families. It’s not enough to appear before the TV cameras and make comforting announcements. You are judged by your actions. And that should be the impetus for change in the way we administer health care.

Capital Health says they don’t have the $26 million that projected raises will cost. Do we know if $26 million is a hard number? If Capital Health can’t pay staff, then should they consider spending over $100 million for a new building? What’s the point of a new building if you don’t have the people to staff it? And how much have administrative salaries, bonuses and perks increased over the last few years? Maybe there’s some fat there to be cut.

Remember, Nova Scotia is spending over $50 million a year to support 10 CEOs, 72 vice presidents and 162 directors.

We have had plenty of warnings that employee relations at Capital Health are not great. In the spring of 2011 a study found that 32 percent of Capital Health employees were dissatisfied with their working conditions. In their latest accreditation report one question asked employees if they trusted their employer. Only 50 percent of employees could answer yes. So where are the Minister and Premier? Why haven’t they done anything to improve employer-employee relations at Capital Health? Why do things have to get so bad that it comes down to the disruption – and chaos – of a strike threat?

This is a prime example of how our health care system doesn’t work.



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