KINGSTON, Ont. – Hospital workers from 15 locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 8000 hospital staff, are meeting in Kingston 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 Kingston today to rally 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,” Hurley said.
“Eastern Ontario has been hit hard by the McGuinty government’s chronic underfunding,” Hurley said. “Hospitals in Ottawa, Cornwall, Belleville and Kingston are already facing deficits. If the province freezes funding, it would cost 9000 jobs. By comparison, 9800 jobs would be lost if Chrysler Canada went under.”
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 Kingston General, is leading to job cuts through attrition and lay-offs, service cuts and degraded patient care across the province,” says Hurley. “For KGH, the “performance improvement plan” is the end result – hundreds of jobs chopped, some through attrition and some through reorganization. But you can’t cut jobs without affecting the quality of patient care. Patient care will be degraded.”
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 Kingston health care and strengthen its local economy by investing in KGH, not running it into the ground.”
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE, cell: 416.884.0770
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431