Toronto Nearly 30,000 Ontario hospital workers who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have voted 95 per cent in favour of ratifying a new contract with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and other hospital employers.
Voting on the new deal negotiated at the end of February took place at hospital workplaces across Ontario throughout March. Included in the two-year contract is a 3 per cent wage increase for the first year and 2.5 per cent in the second.
Hospital workers who provide valuable services to patients in our hospitals feel dignified that the vital work they do is being compensated fairly.
Hospitals are a dangerous place to work. Half of the reported SARS cases were hospital workers and its important that the contribution hospital workers make in the delivery of health care services be recognized and acknowledged by the provincial government, says Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).
Hurley stressed that, although hospital workers are happy about ratifying a new contract, they are apprehensive about the Liberal governments plans to transform health care in the province and, in particular, about the radical downsizing of hospital staff over the next few years.
The reality is that the health care system is in a state of flux and uncertainty. It is a stressful time for hospital workers. Many feel that the Liberal government is pushing health care transformation through at breakneck speed without a roadmap. There is concern that patient care will be diminished through massive staff cuts and by the lack of community-based supports as health services are moved out of hospitals, says Hurley.
Earlier this year, the OHA said that hospital deficits would total $760 million in the 2005-2006 fiscal year. To eliminate the deficits, the OHA said 8,700 hospital jobs would be cut.
The Liberals dont have much to celebrate when it comes to their health services reform, so a new deal with hospital workers is one of the few bits of good news that they can point to, says Hurley.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE (416) 884-0770
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications (416) 578-8774