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Toronto The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE, representing 28,000 hospital workers, warns a Fraser Institute report attacking frontline workers is intended to divide health care workers and encourage more hospital privatization in Ontario.

Comparing the work of frontline Ontario hospital workers including cleaners, cooks, nurses and medical support staff with their private sector counterparts is misleading and dishonest, says Michael Hurley, president of OCHU/CUPE. The Fraser Institutes report ignores the nature of the hospital work environment which is highly dangerous and intensely stressful. Hurley was reacting to a Fraser Institute report entitled, Where Does the Money Go? that blames frontline hospital workers for eating up hospital budgets.

OCHU is concerned the report pits doctors and specialists against frontline hospital workers. Last year hospital workers were hailed as heroes for their efforts to stop the spread of SARS, says Hurley. The Fraser Institute is pushing an agenda of more private involvement in the delivery of hospital care, and to do that, they need to denigrate the contribution of hospital staff. This report is a further blow to the morale of a tired hospital workforce.

Where does the money go? Let me tell you, says Hurley. The key factor in rising healthcare spending is that drug costs for the Ontario government are up 150% over the costs in the late 1990s. The pharmaceutical companies are gouging the healthcare system and Ontario taxpayers.

In 2001-2003, 15,000 hourly paid support staff in Ontario hospitals had their positions eliminated. The reduction in staff, coupled with the increased volume of hospital patients and the increased acuity of their illnesses, has significantly increased the workloads for hospital support staff. In the same period, hospital CEOs salaries increased by 18.3% for 2001-2003, while hospital support staff wages increased 5.5%.

This reports release was timed to coincide with the First Ministers Conference on Health Care to try and influence public health care policy, says Hurley. Many hospital workers contracted SARS during last years outbreak, and most of those workers are still not able to return to work. We believe that we work hard for the people of Ontario and hope that we have earned their support.


For further information, please contact:
Michael Hurley, OCHU President
James Chai, CUPE Communications