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Toronto-The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Ontario) has launched a complaint with the federal government under the Canada Health Act, arguing that allowing the Ontario government to contract out after-hours essential cancer radiation treatment to a for-profit corporation poses a threat to the universality protections and not-for-profit provisions stipulated under the act, leaving our health care system open to privatization under free trade rules.
Today, at a Queens Park media conference, CUPE, the largest public sector union in the country, released a copy of a letter to Federal Health Minister Allan Rock, highlighting several key areas of concern, including under Section 7 of the Act that states insured health services must satisfy the criterion of public administration. This includes the requirement that the plan be administered and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority, a condition that Canadian Radiation Oncology Services, the private company contracted to provide the radiation therapy, clearly does not meet.
Allowing a private company to use public health infrastructure and the element of profit and extra fees associated with the service is an erosion of the protections guaranteed our health care system under the Canada Health Act.
Our public system is at risk because, without the benefit of these safeguards, health care is left open under free trade rules, to be plundered by for-profit multi-national corporations, says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of CUPE who, along with Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) president Michael Hurley, announced the unions challenge under the Act.
CUPE believes that opening up any facet of health care to private for-profit companies compromises the integrity our public system and will eventually lead to the privatization of health care.
CUPE is encouraging the Ontario health minister to develop a long-term strategy for the delivery of cancer care province-wide under the public system. As a stopgap, short-term solution, public cancer centers across the province should begin to provide after-hours care, using therapists already working in the public system.
But for any long-term solutions, the government must begin recruiting and training large numbers of new cancer care therapists. Currently, there is a shortage of these skilled professionals because the post-secondary programs that train them were curtailed and the opening of new cancer care facilities stalled by the Tory government. In short, they created the crisis in cancer care and now they want us to buy into the myth that going to a private alternative for radiation treatment is the only solution. Thats simply not true. There is a viable public sector solution, says Hurley.

For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
(416) 209-0066
Michael Hurley, President OCHU
(416) 884-0770