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Kingston General Hospital’s move to consider contracting out the management of food services to private operators could be yet another step in losing control of public health services, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). With the hospital now under the control of a provincial supervisor, the union is concerned that, rather than fund the hospital properly, the province will cut or contract out services as has happened with other hospitals facing deficits.

First, the hospital’s CEO was fired. Now, the management of food services is being considered for contracting out to a private operator. We believe this could be the start of cuts and erosion of public health services at this hospital,” said OCHU President Michael Hurley. “Rather than fund this hospital properly, the provincial government and Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) are using the hospital’s deficit to cut services that residents have bought and paid for with their tax dollars.”

Hurley said the situation is similar to Ajax-Pickering Hospital, which is also facing a deficit. That hospital is shutting down cardiology, surgery and rehab beds, transferring services out of the community and compromising the quality of care by laying off up to 220 front line workers. “Kingston residents must not let the provincial Minister of Health and the LHIN do that to this community’s health care services. Former CEO Joe De Mora was fired because he refused to cut $17 million in hospital services so it’s now up to residents to say no to cuts or contracting out,” he said.

That is one of the reasons CUPE Ontario is putting on a free rock concert with April Wine and guest band SAB tomorrow night at the Kingston Memorial Centre according to Louis Rodrigues, President of
CUPE 1974. “It’s a way to celebrate and bring home to residents the need to stand up for quality public services and not let politicians starve them of funds or sell them off through privatization, contracting out or relocation of these jobs and services.”

John Hale, President of CUPE 109 representing municipal workers, added that Kingston’s citizens coalition and CUPE have successfully stopped garbage recycling and one of the city’s arenas from being privatized. “Often municipalities think that public-private partnerships (P3s) will save them money when building arenas, water treatment plants and other community facilities, but they’re wrong,” said Hale. “Because for-profit operators must make a profit, P3s cost more and deliver less. We’re watching the
K-Rock Centre that was privatized. We believe it’s only a matter of time as to whether taxpayers will end up funding this facility.”

For more information, contact:

Michael Hurley     President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions     416-884-0770 
Louis Rodrigues    President, CUPE 1974                                      613-531-1319
David Robbins      CUPE Communications                                     613-878-1431