Dryden, Ont. – Health and social service workers from Northern Ontario cautioned today that the McGuinty Liberal’s plan to introduce new regional health authorities called Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) will compromise the quality of health care and community social services, and make it harder for people in the north to access already scarce health services.
At a media conference held in Dryden today, Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), and Judy Bain, a registered practical nurse at Lake of the Woods District Hospital and president of Local 1781 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), outlined the pitfalls in the Liberals’ LHINs plan.
The Liberals refer to the LHINs plan as service “integration”, said Hurley, which is a model based on merging and redistributing the delivery of hospital, long-term care, home care and some community-based social services — like mental health and addiction counseling — on a regional basis, and introducing a competitive bidding model into the health care system.
“Under the LHINs, the services you now access locally at your community hospital and through community social service agencies, will be consolidated and moved somewhere in your health network, which is a large geographic area. That means the sick, the elderly, and families will have less access to services in their communities. Northern communities are particularly vulnerable.
“Along with “integration,” the Liberals intend to introduce competitive bidding to hospitals, long-term care and community health-related social services. It’s the same bidding model that has destroyed community-based, non-profit home care in Ontario,” said Hurley.
Under the Liberal plan, the LHINs (purchaser) will receive the health service funding for an entire region. The LHIN then buys health services such as surgeries, addictions treatment, and dietary services, from providers like hospitals, private clinics, or other agencies that compete to win the service contracts. In the home care sector, this bidding model has resulted in privatization, reduced access to care, and a lack of continuity of care for patients as providers routinely change when they lose contracts.
“By restructuring and privatizing health services through competitive bidding using the LHINs, the McGuinty Liberals are making a fundamental public policy shift. The people of Ontario should be involved in the discussion about what their health care system will look like,“ said Hurley.
CUPE represents 70,000 health and community social service workers in Ontario. CUPE has launched a province-wide campaign to mobilize members and communities to fight the LHINs. As part of that campaign, CUPE is calling on the McGuinty Liberals to:
- Hold province-wide public consultations on the LHINs before introducing legislation;
- Commit that competitive bidding not be introduced to hospitals, long-term care and community-based social services;
- Commit to fund and deliver health services locally in communities, not on a regional basis;
- Include doctors in any integration of health services.
For more information, please contact:
President, CUPE 1781