With reports that the Doug Ford government is eliminating 825 jobs at health care agencies, “the true nature of the cruel PC budget and restructuring system changes are becoming clearer every day,” says Heather Duff, chair of CUPE Ontario’s health care workers group and a front-line Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) staff.
The 14 LHINs were allocated $41 million less than in last year’s budget estimates. “This is perhaps the biggest single job cut caused by the Ford government yet. The government must own up to how this will affect patient access to care,” says Duff. “They can’t run our province like their private corporation. They must be held to public account. These are our health care services.”
On the ground in LHIN workplaces, the rumour has been that government told the agencies to avoid filling vacant jobs. Based on today’s government announcement with 409 unfilled jobs being cut, we know that information to be real. Now there is serious concern on the frontline that key positions, such as care coordinator positions that help patients and families directly access care, may be cut.
In the past, the PC government has claimed its cuts are caused by inefficient school boards or other public sector employers. “But the government directly controls the new super agency (Health Ontario) they set up to take over these health care agencies. They are directly responsible for this large loss of work. Their cynical election promise means nothing. They can’t mislead on that issue anymore,” says Duff.
The government’s dissembling and secrecy about their budget cuts has been a clear strategy, says CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn. Ontarians and affected health care staff “have been told virtually nothing until today about the cut. This is unacceptable – the public needs a full account of the cuts that will affect them. Imagine being one of these workers today and the first thing you are told is that you are losing your livelihood. There is apprehension, instability and chaos caused by this PC decision.”