HALIBURTON, ON – According to the most recent Statistics Canada data, Ontario hospital staff take 22 per cent fewer days absent due to illness or injury than other Canadian hospital workers.
Despite injury rates that are much higher than the all-industry average, worker compensation claim approvals have dropped significantly for Ontario hospitals and long-term care, which forces staff hurt at work to use their sick leave.
These facts don’t support recent remarks made by the president and CEO of Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) in the media, says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE, which represents over 30,000 hospital and long-term care workers province-wide.
OCHU recently held a large rally in Haliburton asking the province to lift its five-year funding freeze on hospitals and to add staff in long-term care.
“To suggest that HHHS can’t add staff because absenteeism and overtime are high is not true. The real problem, for patients and staff is that Ontario funds hospitals and long-term care at a lower level than virtually all the provinces. We have the fewest staff looking after the greatest number of patients and getting sick and injured as a consequence,” says Hurley.
The Liberals’ funding freeze has cut the HHHS budget, in real terms by more than 20 per cent over the past several years, adds Hurley. “The hospital is constrained from pointing to the real source of its problem – government cuts – and instead is pointing at its workforce. This is quite unfair.”
CUPE is planning other events in Haliburton and Minden over the summer as part of its campaign to press the provincial government to lift the funding freeze.
“Our members are on the front line, working to provide high quality care. The rally (one of the largest ever held in Haliburton) was a cry for help from them. We intend to step-up our campaigning until hospitals and long-term care are funded properly in Ontario.”
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