In a recent interview with North Bay media, Premier Kathleen Wynne blames hospital administrators for the ongoing cuts to staff and services at North Bay and other hospitals across Ontario. “She is completely wrong. Blame goes to her government’s health policies and too low funding for hospitals. Throwing hospital administrators under the bus for provincial government funding decisions, is in our view, unprincipled,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).
Successive Ontario Liberal health ministers have made no bones about downsizing hospital care. Since the Liberals were elected over a dozen years ago, funding for hospitals has fallen compared to other provinces. In the last several years, Ontario hospital funding “has lagged well behind the cost pressures associated with aging, population, and inflation. This too low funding – well under the hospitals’ real operating costs – has resulted in serious cuts to staff and services at North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) and many other hospitals province-wide. That’s the root of blame for hospital staffing and program cuts,” says Hurley.
Provincial funding at its current levels has meant that in the last five years alone, North Bay Regional Health Centre has cut $20,735,000. The 2016 provincial budget gives hospitals (including NBRHC) a 1 per cent increase. However, costs, driven by drugs and medical technologies will be closer to 4 per cent, “so another round of cuts is coming. It is completely unfair and below the Premier to blame the managers of the hospital for this,” says Hurley.
North Bay’s hospital, built as a public-private partnership (P3) facility is more expensive to operate than a typical hospital, Hurley says. During the 2003 election, the provincial Liberal’s promised to cancel the North Bay P3 and to build the hospital as a publicly owned entity. “They reneged on that promise and yet have provided no special support for the significantly higher costs of this model. Now they are blaming them for cuts,” says Hurley.
For more information, please contact:
President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU)
Communications, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)