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TORONTO - Four unions representing almost 200,000 Ontario health care workers say the Liberal government will undermine patient access to local care with its Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) plan.

The new scheme will seriously disrupt the health care system through its creation of 14 unaccountable LHINs, the unions say. These unelected bodies will have the power to put more health services on the auction block and open the door to profit-seeking companies wishing to cash in on the new system. Ontarians may also be forced to travel much further to access some procedures.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), the Service Employees International Union Local1.on (SEIULocal1.on) the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) say health care workers know how to improve health care - without the chaos that the LHINs plan will provoke.

“Health care workers saw what happened in home care with the CCACs: massive job loss and disruption for patients, whole communities up in arms, but no way to stop the process. This time, our members want to stop the train before it leaves the station, not while it is running them down,” said OPSEU President Leah Casselman.

“The changes the McGuinty Liberals are planning will result in the slow destruction of our local hospitals. And the lowest-bidder approach for health services that the Liberals are unleashing under the LHINs threatens both access and the quality of services. CUPE believes that the McGuinty government is forcing a confrontation with our members, who are determined to protect Ontario’s publicly delivered healthcare services.” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE-OCHU).

The four-union campaign includes mobilizing health workers and communities against the LHINs legislation before the Liberals push it into law early in March 2006.

“The McGuinty government is afraid of public scrutiny of this legislation,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1.on. “This is just the next step on the road to more health care privatization. First it was the continuation of the managed competition model for home care. Then the announcements of private construction and financing of hospitals came. Now under this legislation a LHIN can force a hospital to transfer services to a for profit entity. We no longer trust the McGuinty government to protect our public health care system.”

The four unions are working cooperatively to protect patient access and ensure the for-profit model is not extended to hospitals, long-term care and community-based social services.

“Nurses have no objection to a health care delivery model that genuinely increases local influence over services, but we doubt that a plan directed by government appointees really accomplishes this end. We reject bringing the profit motive into the provision of care. We have no time for the parts of this plan that will cause communities to lose services and oblige Ontarians to travel, sometimes great distances, in order to obtain treatment,” said Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, ONA President.


Sheree Bond, ONA (416) 964-8833 ext 2430;
David Cox, OPSEU (416) 788-9197 (cell);
Stella Yeadon, CUPE (416) 578-8774;
John Van Beek, SEIU (905) 660-1800 ext 319