SUDBURY, ON – Sudbury Regional Hospital workers are warning the community that the McGuinty Liberals aren’t being upfront about pursuing the biggest privatization of health services in Ontario’s history and radically changing how health care services are funded and delivered.
The privatization is twofold: new hospitals are being turned over to the private sector through “alternative financing and procurement” (AFP) plans and “integration” intended to cut, consolidate and redistribute health services throughout entire regions.
The private hospital redevelopment for Sudbury is just one of 12 private hospital projects — worth billions of dollars — announced in rapid succession by the province in the past month. Private hospitals are proposed for St. Catharines, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville, Belleville, Ottawa, Toronto, and Woodstock.
Marlene Izzard, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1623, which represents support staff at the Sudbury Regional Hospital, says residents should be very concerned that they aren’t getting a fully public hospital. Izzard cautions that AFPs “are privatization by another name and will lead to compromised patient care and more upheaval for hospital workers, much like they have in the United Kingdom where private hospital deals are rampant.
“Services now being provided by hospital employees will no doubt be part of the private deal because AFPs bundle many hospital services to make it more attractive for investors. The workers at Sudbury Regional Hospital, and the people of Sudbury, are entitled to answers to their many questions about this AFP.”
To that end, CUPE will be working with other Sudbury public health care advocates to organize a public forum on the proposed private hospital. The Sudbury Regional Hospital administration and local MPPs will be invited to attend the town hall meeting slated for October 20.
Coupled with the rush to announce private financing for new hospital facilities, the Liberals are also intending to introduce private, for-profit health services through new regional health networks. Under the proposed Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), surgeries and other health services now done in hospitals will be contracted out, and many health services will be moved out of local communities. Blue-chip corporate executives, business consultants, accountants, and other individuals from outside the health care sector, have been chosen to head up the LHINs.
“We believe that, like AFPs, LHINs are a vehicle to privatize health care. This government is intent on opening health care services to the market, much like the previous Tory government did with home care,” says Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
For more information, please contact:
CUPE Local 1623 president