OTTAWA, ON — Cuts to infection control and food services at the Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital “are the direct result of provincial Liberal government funding cuts,” said Brian Grant, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 4540 at an Ottawa media conference today.

In the latest wave of cuts to hit the Bruyere, 30 cleaners and 12 dietary staff positions are being eliminated. Hospital acquired infections are a leading cause of death for patients in Ontario hospitals. These cuts come on top of the elimination of scores of nursing team positions over the last 2 years.

“The province has cut the Bruyere budget by 20 per cent in real terms over 4 years. Patients receive less care and attention because of the nursing team cuts last year. Now with this next round of cuts, patients will be vulnerable to an increased risk of hospital acquired infections,” Grant explained.

Hospitals across Ontario are cutting services in the face of a 5-year funding freeze imposed by the provincial Liberal government. An Ontario Auditor General’s report quotes studies which estimated that healthcare needs a 5.8 per cent increase in funding each year to keep pace with the costs of drugs and medical technologies, which are rising faster than the general rate of inflation. Ontario hospitals were already the most efficient hospitals in the country with the fewest beds and staff and the shortest lengths of stay going into the budget freeze. Ontario spends $353 less per capita than any other province in Canada.

Ontario’s Liberals dropped the corporate income tax rate to the lowest in North America, and economists estimate that the province has lost nearly $20 billion in revenue. This drop in tax revenue triggered austerity in provincial expenditures including a 5-year funding freeze for Ontario hospitals, already the worst funded per capita in Canada. Recently the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE, using Canadian Institute for Healthcare Information data, calculated that the provincial funding shortfall for Ottawa-Carleton hospitals is more than $312 million annually.

“Ontario’s hospitals are the least expensive and most efficient in the country. But they are starved of operating revenue by the province. It’s time for the Liberal government to reverse the deep cuts it has made in hospital budgets in Ontario,” said Michael Hurley, president of OCHU. “We are asking Ottawa Liberal cabinet Ministers Meilleur, Chiarelli and Nasqvi to stand up for their community hospitals.”

For more information, please contact:

Michael Hurley
President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE

Brian Grant
President CUPE 4540 – Elisabeth-Bruyere

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications