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Chronic provincial underfunding is short-changing residents of Durham Region of the public services they need like accessible health care and safe, clean schools, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

Residents have bought and paid for these public services with their hard-earned tax dollars and yet the province is doing nothing while Ajax-Pickering Hospital cuts vital health services and local schools grapple with budgets that aren’t big enough to meet our children’s needs,” says CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. “Durham Region is one of Canada’s fastest growing communities, yet the provincial government is intent on starving public services that are rightly needed by residents.”

Durham Region already receives the lowest per capita health care dollars in the GTA. Now
Ajax-Pickering Hospital is set to lose mental health beds, and cardiology, surgery and rehab beds, because of restructuring by the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and the Rouge Valley Health System. The quality of services will also be negatively impacted when many workers who deliver them are laid off. 

On the education front, local school boards are jeopardizing special needs children by constantly threatening to lay off Educational Assistants (EAs) according to the union. Each budget year, these vulnerable children lose more Educational Assistant time and schools try to lay off the custodial and clerical workers who keep schools safe and clean for our children.

The trend for governments at the local and provincial levels to contract out services to private operators or enter into public-private partnerships (P3s) to build community facilities is also proving expensive for taxpayers. “Municipalities think public-private partnerships will save them money when building arenas, water treatment plants and other community facilities, but they’re wrong,” said Ryan. “Because for-profit operators must make a profit, P3s cost more and deliver less. Just ask Oshawa. After a huge public outcry, Oshawa Council backed off privatizing the GM sports arena because it made no economic sense.”

Tomorrow night, CUPE Ontario is putting on a free rock concert with April Wine and guest band, The Side Project, to celebrate and bring home to residents the importance of public services in building and strengthening communities. “Residents need to stand up for quality public services and not let politicians starve them of funds or sell them off through privatization, contracting out or relocation of these jobs and services,” he added.

For more information, contact:

Sid Ryan                     CUPE Ontario President            416-209-0066
Valerie Dugale            CUPE Communications              647-225-3685