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The rain gave way to a sunny day in North Bay yesterday as CUPE members gathered to push back on the Liberal government’s health services restructuring.


Liberal MPP Monique Smith got an earful over her government’s “Local Health Integration Networks” (LHINs) yesterday, Monday, June 18, as hundreds of laundry workers and their supporters rallied outside her Main Street East office.


This week’s flashpoint in the ongoing showdown over LHINs was a rally to “keep jobs local” in North Bay.  Twenty-six laundry workers in CUPE 4384 face losing their jobs, with 9 of these jobs being moved 120 km down the road to Sudbury and the rest vanishing to offset, in part, the higher costs of private borrowing for the new P3 hospital. 


“Moves like this prove there’s nothing local about how health services are being re-aligned, merged and transferred under the Liberal government’s LHINs restructuring,” Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario, told the roaring crowd.  “Monique Smith is the only politician who is in a position to do the right thing and preserve local jobs in North Bay.  She must step up for her community.”


The real features of LHINs are coming into sharper view, said Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), pledging that the North Bay rally was just a sign of things to come.


“This is the true face of LHINs,” Hurley said.  “Lost jobs, health services closing, cost over-runs at North Bay’s new privatized P3 hospital and increased stress on the environment.”


“LHINs are not local, and they’re not about health—they’re about further entrenching the market in our public system,” Hurley said.  “Make no mistake, this marks only the beginning of the fight over the loss of hundreds of hospital jobs in North Bay as a result of the huge costs of a private P3 hospital.” 


Monday’s rally was organized by “Keep Jobs Local!” – a community coalition dedicated to keeping laundry service jobs in North Bay and raising awareness of the problems with the province’s health service restructuring policies.  


“We will continue to fight this misguided decision to move our jobs out of town,” said Audrey Dwinnell, President, CUPE 4384.  “And we’re going to spread the word to other communities to be wary of the Liberal government’s restructuring policies.  They don’t improve health care and they don’t benefit our communities.”