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Friday, 13 May 2011 09:21

HSAS strikes in Swift Current

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Approximately 50 specialized health care professionals in the Cypress Health Region went on strike at 8 a.m. May 13.

Members of the Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan members who will be picketing outside the E. I. Wood Building in Swift Current include:

• Addictions counsellors from community health,

• Assessors/co-ordinators based at the Cypress Regional Hospital and Regional Health Office,

• Dietitians from community health, mental health and Cypress Regional Hospital,

• Health educators from the Cypress Regional Hospital, E. I. Wood Building, community health and regional health office,

• Psychologists from the E. I. Wood Building,

• Public health inspectors from the E. I. Wood Building,

• Social workers from community health, Cypress Regional Hospital, the E. I. Wood Building and home care,

• Speech-language pathologists from the E. I. Wood Building.

"The 150 specialized health care professionals who have been on strike since Wednesday in Saskatoon return to work this morning. How long the professionals in the Cypress Health Region will be on strike and where and then additional job action will be launched will be announced by the union at a later time," said Cathy Dickson, HSAS' president.

The Cypress Health Region is attempting to contact patients and community services clients who have appointments scheduled with the staff who are not available because of job action or limited access. This may include programs such as mental health social workers, addictions, therapy, acquired brain injury, psychology and public health inspectors.

All surgeries, physician appointments and most hospital-based outpatient procedures and visits will not be disrupted by the job action. The region is still encouraging members of the public to call their respective health professional's office to confirm any appointments. Clients may contact the region at 778-5280 or 1-866-786-2510 to confirm appointments.

HSAS is negotiation with the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations for a new contract. Upset with the way negotiations were going, HSAS's members gave the organization a strike mandate May 6.

"We are determined to take a strong stand against the chronic under-staffing of our professions because understaffing risks the health of Saskatchewan patients," said Dickson. "We will also continue to speak out for more competitive wages and benefits, because recruitment and retention problems will only worsen if Saskatchewan fails to keep wages and benefits competitive with neighbouring provinces like Alberta.

"We renew our public call for Premier Brad Wall to send our contract dispute to independent binding arbitration. Health care employers and the Wall government can not have it both ways. They can't tell the public that they have offered professionals a fair and reasonable contract with competitive wages and benefits but then refuse to send this contract dispute to independent, binding arbitration. If their proposals are in fact fair, what do they have to fear from an independent arbitrator setting the terms of a new contract?"

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