OTTAWA – Ontario hospitals face thousands of job cuts under the McGuinty government unless the Liberals reverse their chronic underfunding of hospitals, says the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), a council of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Hospital cuts are bad even if the province keeps its promise of 2.1 per cent funding increase,” says Michael Hurley, OCHU President, speaking on the eve of presentations to the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. “With just 2.1, we anticipate up to 4,000 positions will go unfilled and up to 1,000 hospital employees would be laid off.”
“It gets worse,” says Hurley. “If the province freezes hospital funding, we would see up to 9,000 job cuts, 5,000 of them through lay-off. This would clearly be catastrophic for Ontario health care.”
Hurley notes that the Ottawa, Cornwall and Kingston hospitals all have significant deficits, and, like almost half Ontario hospitals, they’re being punished for it.
“It’s now okay for the province to run a deficit, but not for hospitals to do so,” says Hurley. “The Province must relent and stop underfunding our hospitals.”
Hurley notes that, according to Informetrica, an economic research think tank, a $1 billion investment in health care would yield 18,100 jobs and a $1 billion investment in infrastructure would create 12,300 jobs. But the same billion dollars given over to tax cuts would net only 5,700 jobs.
“Money spent on health care would yield the greatest number of jobs,” says Hurley. “Investing in health makes good health care sense and good economic sense.”
Hurley says hospital caseloads have risen, but provincial investment hasn’t kept pace.
“Hospitals in eastern Ontario have deficits because they are caring for more and more patients who are more acutely ill,” Hurley says. “The McGuinty government must honour its health care promises – and boost the economy at the same time.”
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE, cell: 416.884.0770
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431