Why are you demonstrating?The provincial government wants to regionalize and privatize support services at hospitals, long-term care facilities and community care access agencies and will use Bill 8 to force that to happen. Bill 8 gives the Ontario government the power to force CEOs and the boards of hospitals, long-term care facilities and community care agencies to enter into performance agreements and the power to reduce their budgets. Performance agreements are in use in British Columbia where they are used to cut support and administration budgets (this years target for BC healthcare administrators is a 7% budget cut).
You cant cut support budgets without threatening care.
Didnt the government address the unions concerns around Bill 8 in its March 9 amendments?
Our members worked hard for amendments to Bill 8 and we are very pleased that the bill has been amended to exempt unions and collective agreements.
But serious problems remain with this legislation, including moving decision- making on key issues, like services, out of our communities to Toronto. We remain very concerned that Bill 8 will be used to coerce health care facilities to privatize support and diagnostic services. And ultimately care will suffer. So were demonstrating to urge the province to reconsider the accountability sections of Bill 8.
Whats wrong with regionalizing or privatizing support services? Our clerical, housekeeping, information technology, dietary, maintenance, laundry, laboratory and other services have been restructured repeatedly. They are very efficient and work with the bare minimum of staff. We can barely get the work done that needs to be done with the staff that we have now. The governments goal in regionalizing support services will be to cut budgets for these services. 85% of support budgets are spent on staff, so cutting costs here will mean that staff numbers will be cut and patient care will suffer.
SARS showed that Ontarios hospital system has no over capacity.When the SARS virus forced the closure of 2 hospitals in the GTA, Tony Clement said that the hospital system was at the brink of collapse. Support services are already stretched so thin that the SARS virus could live on a surface at the North York General Hospital because it hadnt been cleaned for 30 days. Yet the governments policy is to encourage further cuts to support services.
This is a dangerous policy. And it ignores the real culprits driving up healthcare spending.
Support services do not drive up the costs of health care. Ontarios drug plan saw increases from $800 million in 1996 to $2.6 billion last year, an increase of 200%. Support service staff costs increased by 12% over the same period. Yet there is no proposal from the province around reducing costs of drugs. Similarly, large profits for the corporations running for-profit nursing homes, long-term care facilities and laboratories are sucking precious resources from the health care system.
It is the cost of drugs, profits for corporations delivering healthcare services and the doctors fee for service billing system, which drive up the costs of health care, not the costs of support services. Yet the province has no plans to address these areas. Instead the Liberals are focused on regionalizing and privatizing support services.
P3 hospitals will bankrupt the healthcare system. But all the focus is on the support staff. The government has approved 2 new private-public partnership hospitals, which will cost 14% more than public hospitals to finance and which will draw off profits of between 15% and 25%. This will mean bed cuts of 30% at the P3 hospitals and staff cuts: 14% fewer nurses and 38% fewer support staff. If the government is concerned about using money efficiently they will cancel the P3 deals and bring other for-profit heal===th care services back to more efficient and cheaper public delivery.
These P3 hospitals will be the subject of a province-wide demonstration April 3 in Toronto, as we work with the Ontario Health Coalition to press the Liberals to enforce their campaign commitment to stop the P3 hospital deals.