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The coalition fighting to stop privatization and contracting out of services at Ontario’s hospitals has won a major victory.

The provincial government has sent all hospitals a new P3 policy that narrows the scope of privatization and effectively excludes contracting out of most support services.

The new policy protects many services from contracting out, including housekeeping, patient food services, portering, laundry, linen, material management, medical equipment maintenance, diagnostic services, hospital management, pharmacies, and clinical care. The new policy is effective immediately.

This is a huge policy adjustment which protects almost all of our support, clerical and clinical members,” said Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.“ It is also a huge victory for the Ontario Health Coalition, labour and CUPE activists who have fought the government every step of the way to protect jobs in this sector. Our message has been that public services must be kept in public hands if we are to maintain quality health care. The Liberal government is finally getting the message.”

CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan cautioned the fight isn’t over, as the new policy may allow some privatization of non-patient food services, parking security, IT and hard maintenance.

Nevertheless, the scope of privatization allowed in hospital P3 deals has been narrowed considerably, putting CUPE members in a better situation.”

The costs of P3 hospitals are another battle left for public hospital activists to fight. There’s clear evidence P3 hospitals cost more than publicly-financed hospitals – money that should go to services and care, not corporate profits.