Hamilton, Ont. – Health and community-based social service workers in Hamilton are mobilizing grassroots opposition to a McGuinty government plan that will merge the funding and delivery of local health services under a large regional network spanning the Hamilton — Niagara area.
Legislation to set up Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) across the province is imminent, “yet the McGuinty Liberals have provided little information to our community about the massive changes to health service delivery being proposed. And there hasn’t been any meaningful consultation with patients and health service workers about how these changes will affect access to local care,” says Jan Ouzas, a hospital worker.
Local health services to be overseen by LHINs include hospitals, home care, long-term care, community health centres, community support services, addictions counselling, and mental health. The Hamilton Niagara LHIN, that includes Hamilton, Burlington, St. Catharines, Fort Erie and many rural communities like Delhi, is a large geographic area.
Ouzas is concerned that the LHIN structure — based on regional health planning and merging of services — may not be as sensitive and responsive to local health care needs as community hospitals and locally based health service agencies when assessing funding and delivery priorities. While it’s not clear how the LHINs will operate, in other provinces regionalization has resulted in less access to health care services in local communities.
The Hamilton “Say No to LHINs” group is organizing a campaign that includes community forums, lobbying municipal council to oppose the LHINs, advertising and lobbying of Liberal MPPs. The local campaign is part of a broader province-wide campaign by health care and social service workers who are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
On December 2, the Hamilton “Say No to LHINs” group will hold a demonstration at the constituency office of Liberal MPP Marie Bountrogianni.
“’Consult, don’t legislate’ LHINs. That’s our message to the Liberals,” says Ouzas.
The Hamilton demonstration is part of similar actions at Liberal MPPs offices across the province, calling for widespread public consultations on the LHINs.
CUPE represents over 70,000 health care and community-based social service workers in Ontario.
For more information contact:
President, CUPE 4800