‘Save our hospital care’ was the rallying cry yesterday at the demonstration organized by CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE), SEIU Healthcare & Unifor in downtown Toronto. The three unions are representing 70,000 members in central bargaining for a contract that would enable staff to deliver better patient care.

The unions are demanding the Ford government increase the hospital budget by 5% beyond inflation to ensure higher staffing levels and capacity, as Ontario witnesses frequent emergency room shutdowns, long surgical wait lists, and hospital overcrowding.

“There is a crisis in hospital care in Ontario. People are dying on the wait lists for surgeries and diagnostic procedures. They wait for beds on hallway stretchers in unprecedented numbers. We are calling on the Ontario government to end its policy of cutting hospital budgets in real terms and to add staff and beds, and end the crisis now,” said Michael Hurley, president of OCHU-CUPE.

The rally was attended by Ontario’s opposition leaders including NDP leader Marit Stiles, and representatives of other unions and community groups including the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the Ontario Health Coalition, CUPE 416, CUPE 79, and the Toronto & York Region Labour Council.