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Four unions representing almost 200,000 Ontario health care workers have joined forces to fight the Dalton McGuinty government’s local health integration network (LHIN) plan.

The new scheme will seriously disrupt the health care system by creating 14 LHINs, say four unions. These unelected, unaccountable bodies will have the power to put more health services on the auction block and open the door to profit-seeking companies. Ontarians may also be forced to travel much further to access some procedures.

CUPE has joined the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), Local 1 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) to say health care workers know how to improve health care — without the chaos that the LHINs plan will provoke.

The changes the McGuinty Liberals are planning will result in the slow destruction of our local hospital, said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE). “The lowest bidder approach for health services, which the Liberals are unleashing under the LHINs, threatens both access to and quality of services. CUPE believes that the McGuinty government is forcing a confrontation with our members, who are determined to protect Ontario’s publicly delivered health care”.

The joint campaign includes mobilizing health workers and communities against the proposed LHINs legislation before the Liberals push it into law in March 2006.