A dozen or so members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) shouted slogans and waved flags in front of Carbonear General Hospital this afternoon, protesting planned cuts at Eastern Health.
NAPE president Carol Furlong said the demonstration was aimed at the planned cut of 37 full-time equivalent positions (FTE) at Carbonear General, Interfaith Citizens Home and the Harbour Lodge Nursing Home, as well as seven FTEs at the Pentecostal Senior Citizen’s Home in Clarke’s Beach.
“They’re very concerned about cutbacks to health care and the impact it is going to have, not only on themselves, but the quality of care they can give to patients in this area,” said Furlong.
She said some of the messages coming from Eastern Health contradict each other, and is presenting a confusing situation.
“The irony, as well, is that only a few weeks ago Eastern Health was saying that they had to transfer around other areas because they didn’t have enough room for them. Now, we find that they’re closing down a unit at one of the long-term facilities,” said Furlong. “It’s a mixed message and you have to wonder what the heck that is all about?
“On the one hand, they have to move people around because there is nowhere for them to go and then they close down a unit.”
The lunch-hour demonstration brought together workers from the hospital in Carbonear, Harbour Lodge Nursing Home and the Pentecostal senior citizens home in Clarke’s Beach.
The line was constantly in flux, as some protesters had to put down their signs to return to work while others filled their spots.
Steve Cole is the president of the NAPE local 5213 at the hospital.
He said the moves being made by Eastern Health do not make sense.
“At the Carbonear Hospital, the services are being extended, there are new services being added, and to my knowledge, I always thought that meant more work, but in this case they’re cutting jobs,” said Cole.
He said the cutbacks are going to have an effect on patient care.
“Someone’s got to suffer and the ones who will suffer will be the patients or the people who live in this area.”
Furlong said the union believes the cuts announced by Eastern Health well set health care in the province backwards.
“The report that (Eastern Health) had conducted indicated that the people in this province were getting too high a calibre of nursing care. We were above the national standard,” said Furlong. “Instead of saying, ‘my gracious, isn’t it marvelous we provide high levels of nursing care here,’ we have to go to a lower standard so we can be the same as everybody else in the country.
“We should be telling the rest of the country that you should aspire to be as good as Newfoundland and Labrador, not bring us down to some other level of standard that we don’t accept. Cuts will not benefit anybody.”