Health Sciences North estimating new labour regulations will cost $850K

Health Sciences North is estimating costs will go up by $850 thousand for its 2018-2019 budget, after the Ontario government’s labour reforms officially roll out in the new year.

New scheduling, emergency leave rules will put pressure on hospital's 2018-2019 budget

Health Sciences North is estimating costs will go up by $850 thousand for its 2018-2019 budget once the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act takes effect in January. (supplied)

Health Sciences North is estimating costs will go up by $850 thousand for its 2018-2019 budget, after the Ontario government's labour reforms officially roll out in the new year.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is asking the province for more money to compensate for the additional labour costs as a result of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. The association says its hospitals will face an increase in costs of at least $100 million.

"We're still assessing the full impact on our operations, but we've done some preliminary analysis. It will require a number of changes in internal policies and practices," said Dominic Giroux, president and CEO of Health Sciences North.

While the legislation is best known for the minimum wage increase, Giroux says other changes to scheduling and leave will actually have the biggest impact on Sudbury's hospital.

As of January 1st, employers will be required to pay on-call employees for a minimum of three hours, even if they aren't required to work or work less than three hours. Employees who are scheduled for less than three hours of work will also be entitled to that minimum. Two days of paid emergency leave are guaranteed for all employees, as well.

Pressures on hospitals expected to increase

"It is an additional pressure for our budget for 2018-2019, in addition to the shortfall that HSN had in the last fiscal year," said Giroux.

Health Sciences North President and CEO Dominic Giroux says the legislation will require changes to the hospital's internal policies and practices. (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

Giroux says it's too early to say how HSN will ease that pressure, but various options are being considered as the hospital prepares its budget for the next year. The 2018-2019 budget will be presented to the board in March.

Hospitals across the province are struggling with overcrowding, and the OHA says the new labour costs place additional pressure on an already strained system.

"Those pressures are real, and we know that that demand will continue to increase in the coming years," said Giroux.

HSN currently operates at 110 per cent occupancy, with at least 20 patients on beds in hallways and shower rooms everyday.

If the OHA is successful in getting more funding from the province, Giroux says it could make a big difference.

"Any increase in funding for hospitals, either this year or next year, will reduce the shortfall that the hospitals faced last year...and that will allow us to continue to provide quality care."