TORONTO Hospital workers want to see concrete amendments to Bill 8 before they believe promises made by Health Minister Smitherman yesterday in the legislative committee hearing concerning Bill 8. With the Minister refusing to make amendments public until March 9th, 2004, the public campaign against this Bill will continue. Hospital workers argue they have no reason to believe liberal promises after their post-election experience with the Liberals. The Minister also failed to address public concerns over government powers in the Bill to restructure, privatize and contract-out health services.
The Liberals promised to stop P3 hospitals. Instead theyve given the go-ahead for several more in Ontario, says Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). Were not the only ones saying the Liberals have a credibility problem. We want to see written amendments that take away government powers [in Bill 8] to gut collective agreements, reduce wages, and undermine our public health system.
Pressure by CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) and other health care unions had the Minister agreeing to make amendments addressing hospital workers concerns around government powers to override collective agreements.
The Minister was silent on the powers bestowed upon him by Bill 8 to issue compliance directives to force health care providers (such as hospitals and long-term health care facilities) to reduce budgets, consolidate and privatize services. With this kind of power, the Liberals remove every obstacle that the citizens and health care workers of Ontario have put in place over the years to block the smooth and rapid privatization of our public health care system.
OCHU representatives will be making presentations concerning the Bill at the Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy of the Ontario legislature in five different cities over the next two weeks. The first hearing begins tomorrow in Sudbury.
For more information on the campaign against Bill 8, please visit http://www.cupe.ca/www/57/bill_8
The Ontario Council for Hospital Unions (OCHU) represents over 27,000 hospital workers in over 80 hospitals.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Hurley President, OCHU c: (416) 884-0770
Diane Kalen CUPE Communications c: (647) 224-0662