A meeting between employees, ranking members of members of the local Unifor trade union and Revera, the company that owns and operates Hallowell House Long Term Care home is expected to take place Thursday.
Over the past week, picketers outside the facility just west of Picton have been raising concerns that an employee restructuring in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to reduced care at Hallowell House. Revera notified the employee group recently that due to the elimination of funding for four bed ward rooms as mandated by the province to stop the spread of COVID-19, layoffs would be coming soon.
The daily information picket has reached plenty of local eyes as motorists driving through the roundabout on Loyalist Parkway have been honking and showing their support. It’s expected the company will confirm to employees a total of seven full time personal support workers (PSWs) and three Registered Practical Nursing positions will be eliminated as a result of the restructuring. The home as gone from 90 residents pre COVID-19 to 68 as the provincial mandates on ward housing has taken effect.
Local president 8300 Kathleen Brooks told the Gazette the reduction in staff to a “skeleton crew” that will just barely meet the provincial standard for care will lead to burnout and could have disastrous effects should a worker become COVID positive. Brooks said the Union desperately wants to work with the company to ensure resident safety and coverage as the fourth wave of COVID-19 approaches.
“We have proposed a number of measures to prevent those layoffs that include offering our members work that is currently contracted out,” Brooks said “We’ve also proposed that with 64 residents, an assistant Director of Care is a management position that’s needed.”
Unit chair and Local 8300 Secretary/Treasurer Mary DeMille added that a number of young mothers are employed at Hallowell House and with in-person learning at risk, the timing of this announcement by the parent company could not be worse.
“We’ve asked ‘Can we hold off, get through the fourth wave and then let’s sit down and see what we can come up with?’,” DeMille said. “It’s unacceptable they would consider laying anyone off despite their funding changes in the middle of a pandemic. It takes one person in that building to become positive and they are going to be in trouble,” Brooks added. In a statement to the Gazette, Revera Vice President of Corporate Susan Schutta said it’s a privilege to serve the residents of Hallowell House Long Term Care Home.
“ Providing quality care and services to our residents is our top priority. We are aware of the information picket taking place in front of our home by members of the union. This is their right and we respect their decision. We are committed to helping ensure that this activity does not impact residents’ services or care, which is our main concern and the common goal of everyone at our home,” Schutta said. “We have and will continue to work with employees to resolve any outstanding issues, working through the well-established, mutually-agreed upon processes that are in place.”