Union leader fears hospital kiosks will lead to job cuts
'We had no advance warning, we had not been consulted'
Health PEI is in the early stages of implementing self check-in kiosks at both the Prince County Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital — a move that has union staff worried about job losses.
"We had no advance warning, we had not been consulted and we were informed that they were going to be installing them sometime in the fall," said Paul Beauregard, leader of the IUOE Local 942.
"We were informed that the reason they're doing this is to save money and the way you do that is by laying off staff."
The union represents construction sector workers, health care professionals and workers from various other sectors.
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Beauregard said the union will meet with Health PEI, but that they're at a disadvantage as the union was given "practically no details at all" about government's plan.
Provincial Health Minister Robert Mitchell said the kiosks are being used in other hospitals in the Maritimes, like the Queen Elizabeth II and IWK in Halifax, and that implementing them is about efficiency, first and foremost.
"Comments and feedback from those hospitals are that it does improve efficiency, it does help to eliminate bottlenecks within the system," he said.
"Face-to-face staff" would still be available at both hospitals, Mitchell said, adding the kiosks would help some Islanders who would prefer to check themselves in.
"Obviously we have union contracts that we need to uphold so this is kind of early days of discussion here but … it is a technology that is now being implemented across the country," he said.
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With files from Julien Lecacheur