TORONTO - Four unions representing almost 200,000 Ontario healthcare workers say the Liberal government’s plan for Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) is deeply flawed.
The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), the Service Employees International Union Local1.on (SEIULocal1.on), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) say the LHINs plan:
- Lacks a comprehensive plan to deal with employees in a way that protects jobs and improves patient care;
- Threatens access to local health services;
- Reduces accountability by placing decision-making at arms length from the government;
- Ignores the role of doctors, the ‘gatekeepers’ of the system;
- Takes away local control; no input from front-line staff
- Has the potential to extend the disastrous ‘competitive bidding’ model (now used in home care) to the entire health care system.
- Is driven by the bottom line, not health care concerns.
“The unelected, unaccountable LHINs could pit communities against each other in competition for scarce health dollars. There will be service cuts and consolidations, which means job losses. There is no plan in place to address human resource adjustment issues. This means more uncertainty for patients. And it allows politicians to avoid responsibility for their decisions,” said OPSEU President Leah Casselman.
Despite claims to the contrary, the McGuinty government is extending the competitive bidding model that the Harris government put in place in homecare, to hospitals and long-term care. Studies on the market model in home care show that “services have been reduced, care has been compromised, privatization has increased, and the staff turnover rate is much higher than for other health care workers. What kind of reward is this for the billions of dollars citizens are paying into the Ontario Health Tax?” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE-OCHU).
Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Local 1.on, added: “McGuinty’s health care privatization train has left the station at full steam. Ontario citizens must ensure it is derailed before two-tier health care becomes a permanent reality in Ontario.”
“Nurses feel that extending the for-profit model to local health care delivery will not fix what ails Ontario’s system. As resources are diverted from care to private profits, patients and health care workers will suffer,” said Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, ONA President.
The four unions are working cooperatively to ensure that the for-profit model proposed under the LHINs is not extended to hospitals, long-term care and community-based social services.
Sheree Bond, ONA 416-964 8833, ext 2430;
David Cox, OPSEU 416-788-9197 (cell);
Stella Yeadon, CUPE; 416-578-8774;
John Van Beek, SEIU (905) 660-1800, x 319