KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Just before Christmas we reported on plans by the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) to farm out its health records document management to US-owned Iron Mountain.
91 decent union jobs will be lost, many of them in rural Nova Scotia. Workers who are currently employed in Health Information Services, scan and archive medical records at local hospitals across the province. They are members of the NSGEU and CUPE. Eighty-four of the affected workers are women.
The individual workers may find other jobs within the NSHA or with Iron Mountain, but the good-paying union jobs, many in rural Nova Scotia, are gone.
Jason MacLean, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) takes issue with the government’s hands off approach when it comes to the NSHA eliminating this many jobs.
Andrew Nemirovsky, the Chief Information Officer at NSHA, told the Chronicle Herald that government is not consulted in “day-to-day operational work” within the health authority, such as contracting or eliminating jobs.
“Eliminating 91 jobs is not a day-to-day issue. That is a major issue that has political ramifications across the province. There has to be accountability to Nova Scotians, and they’re not showing any accountability,” MacLean counters.
Despite protestations by a NSHA official quoted in a Chronicle Herald article, MacLean maintains that the union was kept in the dark.
“I read in the Chronicle Herald where the spokesman for the Health Authority says that they’ve been working with the union, but that’s not the case,” he says.
“The NSHA is saying that there will be other positions for these workers, but for me the real issue is the uncertainty that these people have to deal with throughout the holidays. They still have not heard back from their employer,” says MacLean.
As well, the NSHA is shirking its obligation to pay severance as it is spelled out in the collective agreement, says MacLean.
“They didn’t even include these severance pay costs when they claimed that contracting out was going to save money. What they’re trying to do is get away from paying those costs,” he says.
The reason the NSHA is going to Iron Mountain is the NSHA cannot afford the high capacity scanners, the Chronicle Herald reports. Errors are frequent because of the current technology, Nemirovsky says. As a result there have been significant scanning errors in the past and “boxes and boxes of unscanned charts sitting in various locations across the province.”
“What the workers are telling me is that they’re all distraught, because they were never told that their work wasn’t up to par, MacLean says.
“And the workers tell me that they were given scanners that they couldn’t get serviced. They tried to get more scanners, and the employer wouldn’t approve it. It was the NSHA’s mishandling of this file that brought them to this point. They should just have addressed it in the first place and kept everything up to date.”
“These are the same people that were heralded as health care heroes. And now they’re simply being tossed aside,” says MacLean.
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