Federal $10 million for private Vaughan company with links to Fantino but no commitment on escalator for federal health transfers to Ontario after 2014
The resignation of prominent Vaughan Conservatives from their riding association suggests that the federal Conservatives’ handing over $10 million of public money to a company headed by former Julian Fantino campaign fundraisers to develop a medical industrial park “leaves some core supporters gobsmacked by the impropriety,” says Michael Hurley, the president of the 35,000 member Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
Ontario receives $262 less per citizen in federal transfers than any other province for hospital care due to inequities in the transfer formula. Ontario has the fewest number of hospital beds to population, the fewest staff for those beds, and shortest length of stay of any province. In northern and rural Ontario, local hospitals and emergency rooms are under threat of closure because of federal underfunding.
“In almost every hospital in Ontario, significant services, beds and staff are being cut. Dying patients are being forced out of hospital. We have paramedics clustered at emergency rooms because there are no beds to offload their patients. 4,000 Ontario patients die each year from hospital-acquired infections because of overcrowding. If money is available from the federal government, it should go to clinical care. That is where the urgent need is,” says Hurley.
Similar medical industrial parks (to the one being proposed for Vaughan) in Ottawa and in Toronto “have failed miserably. Directing public money to such a project shows how out of touch the Conservatives are with the hospital situation in Ontario,” says Hurley.
“We have yet to hear a definitive commitment from the federal Conservatives that they will maintain the 6 per cent escalator beyond 2014,” says Hurley. Starting in 2014, Ontario will lose $650,000,000 a year — “unless the escalator is renewed, the health care cuts will be savage.”
Fantino, MP for Vaughan and minister of state for seniors, dangled federal support for a new hospital in Vaughan in a by-election held last year.
“It’s as though the family is hungry and dad’s brought home a case of beer,” says Hurley.
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President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)