The Ottawa Hospital has informed the province's nurses' union that it is preparing to cut 133 registered nursing positions this year.

"Under the current economic circumstances, hospitals, like every other sector, must provide responsible stewardship of scarce public resources," the hospital management said in a written statement.

The hospital said it will also eliminate 42 positions that are currently vacant.

Linda Haslam-Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurses' Association, said the cuts will affect care for a "large number" of patients.

"It's tragic that the hospital is putting patients at risk to balance the budget on the backs of nurses and patient care," Haslam-Stroud said.

The ONA represents 48 of the nurses to be cut, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union represent the others, according to the hospital.

The hospital said no employee had lost their job yet, and most would continue working at the hospital after the cuts. It anticipated some workers would be reassigned to positions for which they are qualified, while others will fill internally posted vacancies, according to the statement.

The ONA said the hospital would replace some of the registered nursing positions with less-skilled workers.

Haslam-Stroud said the union is trying to contact the nurses affected by the cuts and is urging patients and the community to protest the impending losses.