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CUPEs Ontario Council of Hospital Unions warns that the Ontario government continues to underestimate the threat posed by Clostridium difficile even as the death toll rises in Quebec.

Quebec hospitals are reporting an alarming increase in deaths from the infectious bacteria, but CUPE fears the government is not dealing effectively with the problem.

We now have 100 more cases in Quebec, bringing the death toll in that province to 179, said Michael Hurley, President of OCHU. Premier McGuinty is telling us not to worry because the government has put in place new safety standards that require hospitals to report publicly. But he noted that the first system failure in the SARS crisis was government overconfidence.

OCHU has been calling on the government to dedicate special resources to bolster cleaning in hospitals and long-term facilities. It is also calling for a meeting with hospital and long-term care managers, public health officials, doctors, and unions to prepare strategies to prevent the spread of C. difficile.

We urge the Ontario government to move fast on this issue, Hurley said.