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CUPE is concerned about the patients

Montreal, Wednesday, September 18, 2002 – While hospital emergency departments in the western part of Montreal are among the best performing in Quebec, the Rg0069e rg0069onale de la sant 0065t des services sociaux de Montra006c-Centre has announced its intention to close 115 beds at various rehabilitation hospitals and a further 253 beds at CHSLDs. This decision was conveyed August 27 in a letter signed by David Levine in which he indicated that this was a request from the health minister.

In particular, this decision targets institutions in the western part of the city, including the Centre hospitalier Richardson and the Lachine Hospital, where the majority of employees are members of CUPE. For the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the measure announced could have a negative impact on the patients and the hospitals in the region. “If the emergency rooms at the Jewish General and the Lakeshore hospitals have the reputation of being among the most efficient in Quebec it’s because some centres give them support and accept patients in deviation. Several hospitals in the western part of Montreal offer complementary services that help relieve crowding in hospitals. Mr. Levine’s recent decision is incomprehensible and would sabotage a system that is working well,” says Serge Lalonde, vice president of CUPE’s Provincial Council of Social Affairs (PCSA).

One of the arguments put forth by Mr. Levine in his letter to justify the closing of 115 specialized care beds is that hospital stays are longer than expected. An indecent and incomplete estimation, says the union, “The government wants patients to be cured within 10 days, but you can’t cut treatment in half. You don’t get better faster because a bureaucrat has set a date. If people are sent home before they are completely well, we know what will happen: they will get sicker and they’ll be back in emergency at a hospital. As for the chronic beds, the 253 places to be eliminated will just add to the waiting list, with sick people already waiting an average of 360 days for admission to a centre. And the CLSCs don’t have the equipment or the resources to take care of these patients at home. Where will they go then?” points out Mr. Lalonde.

CUPE also points out that these cuts are harder on the English-speaking population of Montreal, whose health care network is already underfinanced. The announced bed closings will therefore complicate the placing of a largely elderly English-speaking clientele. “To summarize, this shows all the signs of being a bad decision,” Mr. Lalonde insists, “they are amputating in the health care establishments that absorb the overflow from the health system. The balance they had found between the different institutions was exemplary in this part of Montreal. Why change all that and leave patients lying in the halls of an emergency department?”

Furthermore, the PCSA representatives question the decision-making process itself. Mr. Levine’s letter is dated August 27, but this decision does not appear to have been approved by a vote of the board of directors of the Rg0069e rg0069onale de Montra006c-Centre. There is a board meeting planned for the evening of September 19 and, strangely, this issue is not on the agenda. To clarify the matter and denounce this administrative decision, representatives of CUPE’s Provincial Council of Social Affairs will be present for the question period scheduled at 6 p.m. in room 105 in the Rg0069e’s offices.

CUPE represents about 20,000 members in health and social services in Quebec. In addition to this sector of activity, CUPE is present in 10 other sectors, including education, municipalities, urban transit, air transport, government corporations and public organizations in Quebec, hydroelectricity and communications. With nearly 100,000 members in Quebec, it is the largest union affiliated with the QFL.

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This press release and other information is in on the Web site scfp.qc.ca