HAMILTON, Ont. – Hospital workers from 3 locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 4500 hospital staff, are meeting in Hamilton today to plan how to press the provincial government to honour its health care funding commitments.
“The McGuinty government must honour its funding commitments to health care,” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU), in Hamilton today to meet with hospital workers. “Freezing hospital funding would kill 9000 Ontario health care jobs, 5000 of them through lay-off, degrading patient care across the province in a system where half of Ontario hospitals are already facing deficits.”
“Hamilton has been hit hard by the McGuinty government’s chronic underfunding of health care,” Hurley said. “St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is facing a deficit of around $37 million and is threatening to privatize cleaning jobs in a misguided attempt to save some money that will put hygiene at risk.”
Hurley noted that even if the province keeps its promise of a 2.1 per cent funding increase, there will still be deep cuts because the rate of inflation for hospitals is 3.5 per cent. With a 2.1 per cent funding increase – still 1.4 per cent below inflation – Ontario hospitals would leave up to 4000 positions unfilled and up to 1000 hospital employees would be laid off.
“Chronic underfunding of Ontario hospitals, including at St. Joe’s, is leading to job cuts through attrition and lay-offs, service cuts and degraded patient care across the province,” says Hurley. “But you can’t cut jobs without affecting the quality of patient care and, in the case of housekeeping, dramatically increasing the risk of hospital infections by bringing in for-profit cleaning companies that train less, pay less and lose staff more often.”
Hurley noted that recent studies by the think-tank Informetrica found that $1 billion invested in health care creates 18,100 jobs. The same billion dollars invested in infrastructure creates 12,500 jobs.
“Investing in health care makes good economic sense,” Hurley said. “The McGuinty government can protect Hamilton health care and strengthen its local economy by investing in St. Joe’s, not running it into the ground and setting it up for privatization and contracting out.”
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE, cell: 416.884.0770
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431