Hospital and long-term care workers represented by Ontario’s largest hospital union elected a new executive board on April 11 with a strong mandate to fight back against the government’s policies of underfunding and the privatization of surgeries and diagnostics.

Michael Hurley and Sharon Richer were acclaimed as the president and secretary-treasurer of CUPE’s Ontario Hospital Council of Unions (OCHU-CUPE), while Kevin Cook from CUPE 786 in Hamilton was elected as the first vice president. 

Hurley said government austerity and wage restraint had deepened the hospital staffing and capacity crisis, even as the Ontario PCs are shovelling money to private, for-profit clinics. 

“At a time when hospital workers are struggling valiantly to provide the quality of care that patients need, the recently announced hospital budget will make that impossible as it doesn’t keep up with rising health care costs.” he said. “In stark contrast, private surgical centres are seeing budget increases of over 200 per cent. We have a vigorous mandate from this convention to defend the quality of care in our hospitals and reverse the privatization agenda.”

The convention delegates also elected the following members:

Treena Hollingworth, Stratford, representing Southern Ontario

Jillian Watt, Hamilton, representing Hamilton-Niagara

Calvin Campbell, Toronto, representing the GTA

Susan Keeling, Peterborough, representing Central Ontario

John Jackson, Smith’s Falls, representing Eastern Ontario

Dave Tremblay, Sudbury, representing, Northeastern Ontario

Judy Bain, Kenora, representing Northwestern Ontario

Suzanne Pinel-Asselin, Francophone Vice-president

“Every day, our members are on the frontlines displaying their courage, commitment, and compassion to serve patients even as their working conditions have been undermined by the cuts coming from the Conservative government. We will leave no stone unturned to fight for their rights, and the fight for the rights of patients who deserve high quality, timely, accessible patient care,” said Richer.

OCHU-CUPE is the largest hospital union in Ontario, representing about 50,000 hospital and long-term care workers in Ontario, including registered practical nurses, personal support workers, cleaners, lab, X-ray and pharmacy staff, food service workers, clerical and administrative staff, trades workers and others.