TORONTO Ontario Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman as much as confirmed that his government intends to proceed with six more hospitals built through public-private partnerships (P3s) in a meeting today with Canadas largest union.
Its clear that we are on a collision course with this government on the issue of privatization of health care, said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan, following this mornings meeting.
The presidents of CUPEs hospital locals members of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions will be meeting in Toronto on Thursday to plan their fightback strategy against P3s.
Our members wanted to believe that the Liberals were going to be different from the Tories, Ryan said. We learned today that they are not when it comes to public health care. CUPE will be working tirelessly to mobilize our allies in the community through the Ontario Health Coalition and the Ontario Federation of Labour to make sure this government gets the message loud and clear: No P3 hospitals in Ontario.
Despite all the evidence that P3s are not a good deal for taxpayers, for health care consumers or for workers, Minister Smitherman appears bound and determined to go ahead, Ryan said.
He told us we can take our case against P3s to the public and hell take his case in favour. I believe the last election showed that, in the court of public opinion, we will win.
Before and during the provincial campaign, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said P3s represent an extraordinary departure from history when it comes to public hospitals in the province of Ontario. He was right, Ryan said, and the proof is in the fact that Conservative MPPs from Brampton, where one P3 hospital had been announced, were turfed from office. The Liberals are trying to pretend that they have stopped P3s by keeping the ownership public, Ryan said. But they are still going to use private financing which costs taxpayers more and theyre still going to let private companies take over the operation of non-clinical services.
Those are CUPE jobs, he said, and CUPE wont stand for it. Most of the workers whose jobs will be at risk are women, people of colour and immigrants.
Smithermans plan will create low-wage job ghettos within Ontarios hospitals because the only way private operators turn a profit is by cutting wages and benefits, Ryan said.
For more information, please contact:416-209-0066 (cell)
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications
416-299-9739 ext 254 - 416-616-6142 (cell)