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THOROLD, Ont. – Chronic provincial underfunding is short-changing residents of Niagara Region of the public services they need like accessible health care, 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 provincial government is intent on starving public services that are rightly needed by residents,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn. “A case in point is the new Niagara Health System ‘improvement plan,’ which to the contrary means that services will be cut or relocated. Residents will have to travel hours to get the health care services they need and that is unacceptable.”

Under the plan, all obstetric and pediatric services in the region will be moved to the new St. Catharine’s site. Emergency departments will be closed in Port Colborne and Fort Erie. “We are seeing these ‘restructuring’ plans across the province and in every case, they are disguising the fact that residents are losing vital services in their communities,” said Hahn.

Child support and protection services that help children, youth and parents in the Niagara Region are also being cut because of serious underfunding. Already, Family and Children’s Services Niagara have cut two Best Start and Early Learning and Parenting programs and a day care centre. “In these times when families are stressed, parents need these programs and supports to meet the needs of their children,” said Carolyn Taylor, President of CUPE 1287 representing social workers.

Hahn added that municipalities are so squeezed for cash that they think public-private partnerships (P3s) will save them money when building arenas, water treatment plants and other community facilities.  “They’re wrong. Because for-profit operators must make a profit, P3s cost more and deliver less. Niagara Falls, Windsor, Kingston and Oshawa have all rejected P3s. We hope that the City of Welland, who earlier this year was considering a P3 sports arena, has really put that idea to rest.”

Tomorrow night, CUPE Ontario is putting on a free rock concert with April Wine and guest band, The Figure Four, to celebrate and bring home to Niagara Region 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,” Hahn added.

“With declines in the auto and manufacturing sectors, Niagara Region can’t afford to lose more good jobs,” says Hahn. “Jobs like those in public services provide decent wages and benefits for workers and their families. They also contribute in a big way to the local economy.”


For more information, contact:

Fred Hahn  Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario  416-540-3979
Carolyn Taylor  President, CUPE 1287   905-321-8275
Luc Tittley  CUPE Communications   416-910-2389