The target date for the completion of the transfer of the Ste. Anne Hospital from federal to provincial government control has been pushed ahead six months.
On Wednesday, a union official representing close to 600 workers at the hospital was told that the transfer would only be completed Sept. 30, not March 31, as originally stated when federal and provincial government officials signed an agreement in principle close to a year ago.
However, no further details about the hospital transfer was provided, said Yvan Thauvette, national president of the Union of Veterans Affairs Canada — Public Service Alliance of Canada.
Thauvette said he received a telephone call Wednesday morning from Richard Neville, the federal government’s chief negotiator, with the news.
Jean Christophe de le Rue, an aide to Steven Blaney, the federal minister of veterans affairs, confirmed the new hospital transfer date is now Sept. 30, but said he could offer no other information.
Both federal or provincial government officials have been tight-lipped about the negotiations.
Union officials say they are hoping to learn about the specifics of the transfer when they sit down with Neville for a “face-to-face,” something the federal government negotiator promised when on the telephone with Thauvette. No date has been set for that meeting, however. De le Rue also confirmed that a meeting with the union is in the offing.
The possibility of pressure tactics to push the hospital talks forward were to be discussed Wednesday afternoon at the union’s annual general meeting at the hospital – but that plan was changed.
For the time being, union members will not be picketing the hospital, said Thauvette.
Last week, a 33-bed unit was closed at the hospital, bringing to 100 the total number of empty beds at the 446-bed hospital. The hospital can not accept civilians while it is federally-funded.
Layoffs are expected but the number of jobs to be cut has yet to be determined.