Cross-Canada office closures of the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) comes as a complete shock for employees who find themselves jobless and to clients who depend on VON services.
“Right now I’m kind of numb; I guess I will look for other employment,” said a now former Saskatoon VON employee.
She added the real tragedy here are the thousands of clients VON served in Saskatoon including resident in all long-term care and assisted living centres in the city.
“Most of our clientele are elderly or can’t get out of their house so they’re left with nothing.”
On Wednesday morning VON released a statement on its website stating the non-profit was seizing operations in six provinces across Canada and decreasing its head office staff as part of a company restructuring.
Established in 1897, VON is Canada’s longest-standing home and community health care charity.
The former VON employee said all the notice her staff received was an email telling them not to go to work on Wednesday.
“I didn’t check my email right away so I just went on and I found out the news at about 9:30 a.m. after another nurse called me and told me.”
She added nurses were instructed not to call clients to tell them about the cuts, and to leave that up to the media.
In light of the cuts in Saskatchewan the province is losing three fulltime and nine part-time nurses, as well as seasonal workplace flu clinics in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. Saskatoon will lose its foot-care clinic that serves about 5,000 clients each year.
In total 352 employees were terminated cutting staff by 23 per cent with office and programs shutdowns in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Jo-Anne Poirier, president and CEO of VON said they had to make some hard choices and that VON is closing its smaller operations to free up capacity and to respond to opportunities in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
Irene Haubrick is the client services coordinator with St. Volodymyr’s Assisted Living Centre in Saskatoon. She said the news of the VON closures comes as a shock as at least 10 residents already had appointments booked with the foot-care clinic next week.
“We have people over 100 years old here so they obviously cannot do this service to themselves and for these people to go out to the private businesses to have it done, it’s just not feasible,” Haubrick said, adding some residents might not have the means to afford service from private clinics.
“A trip to the podiatrist is about $75 a visit per person. VON charged $50 for first visit and then $45 for every visit after,” Haubrick said. “People on limited income cannot afford that impact a lot of people are living on old-age pension.”
Haubrick has tried contacting VON for a referral to other agencies that can fill the void left by these office closures and job cuts.