CUPE has again shown that solutions to problems in the health system lie in the public sector.
Radiation therapists and technicians at the Hamilton Regional Cancer Care Centre have agreed to work extended hours for a 12-week period to clear the backlog of patients waiting for radiation treatment in their community.
The agreement with members of CUPE Local 3566, representing therapists, technicians and administrative staff at the centre, stands in sharp contrast with the approach the Ontario government has taken in Toronto where Cancer Care Ontario has contracted out after-hours care to a private, for-profit operation.
This is a viable, public sector alternative, offered under our existing public health system that will benefit all the community, said CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan.
CUPE had first put forth the extended hours proposal last April, but the offer was rejected by the then executives of Cancer Care Ontario.
On March 2, CUPE filed a complaint under the Canada Health Act and asked Federal Health Minister Allan Rock to shut down the Toronto after-hours radiation clinic. The provincial health ministry has also been asked to disclose all documents pertaining to the operation of the private, for-profit clinic.
Both levels of government know there is a public sector solution to the backlog in cancer treatment. It is now incumbent on them to ensure that Cancer Care Ontario follow the Hamilton example at all other regional cancer treatment centers, to ensure all cancer patients can get the treatment they need close to home, said Ryan.