A march and rally will take place Tuesday, October 12th to draw attention to the cuts to cleaning at the Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre. The Ontario hospital has announced the cut of almost 4,000 hours of cleaning annually.

The march will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Legion at 370 Annette Street, in Espanola and proceed to the Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre 825 McKinnon Drive, where the rally will take place.

“The provincial funding shortfall is driving the cuts to cleaning in Espanola as it is driving cuts to hospital services across northern Ontario,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE). “Ontario hospitals already have a very troubling rate of death and illness due to hospital acquired infections — something that will only worsen as cleaning standards slip. Readmission rates to hospitals in the northeast of Ontario are higher than the Ontario and Canadian average, which is one indicator of an ongoing problem with hospital acquired infections.”

According to the latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Ontario government funding for hospitals is $1,395.73 per capita. The rest of Canada, excluding Ontario, spends $1,749.69 per capita or $353.96 more per person on hospitals — 25.3 per cent more. Ten years ago the gap was only 4.3 per cent. Average Ontario hospital funding for the population the size of Espanola in 2005-2006 would have been about $0.26 million less than average funding for the same population outside of Ontario. But by 2015-2016 the funding shortfall for a town the size of Espanola would have exploded to $1.899 million.

“Cuts to cleaning compromise infection control. We hope that northern Liberal cabinet ministers Glenn Thibeault and David Orazietti will hear the concern that the hospital cuts threaten the health of the people who use the Espanola hospital and hospitals across northern Ontario. Ontario hospitals have had eight consecutive years of real provincial budget cuts. It is time for a real funding increase for these hospitals,” said Nicholas Black, northeastern Ontario vice-president of OCHU/CUPE.