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KINGSTON, Ont. – The McGuinty government must listen to the legitimate concerns of community health care advocates and take responsibility for funding gaps affecting local health service levels while the health system undergoes restructuring, said the president of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1974, representing 1,400 front line staff at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) at a media conference today.

The media conference kicked off a CUPE 1974 campaign focused on community advocacy as the Ontario Liberal government moves on radical health system changes under Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) that many anticipate will affect local health service levels.

“Our campaign,” said Rodrigues, “is a direct response to the approach we’ve seen here where the province is using the Liberal MPP and LHIN head as its agents to attempt to shutdown KGH’s advocacy efforts for adequate funding.

“We are very concerned that this approach to silence advocacy will be mirrored across the province as the McGuinty Liberals—with a new four year mandate—move quickly to merge, cut and transfer services, as they introduce competition between health service providers and a pricing system for procedures.”

Since the McGuinty Liberals announced changes to health service funding and delivery using a regional system, CUPE 1974 has cautioned that the LHINs would be used by the province to contain health care costs—through merging, cutting and transferring health services out of local communities—across the large area of the South East Health Integration Network.

 “We are not going to let the provincial government dodge its responsibilities. We are not going to let the government divide us and play one health care provider against the other. We will stand up to any government agent trying to muzzle anyone voicing genuine concerns about heath service underfunding,” said Rodrigues.

At a rally held outside KGH immediately following the media conference, Rodrigues outlined the CUPE 1974 advocacy campaign that includes:

• Lobbying efforts to ensure KGH receives adequate provincial funding without service cuts to any community health services,
• Local radio and television advertising,
• Support of a community forum organized by the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) and the local Kingston Health Coalition (KHC) on Monday, November 26 – 7:00 p.m. at Kingston City Hall