KINGSTON, ON – Kingston area hospital staff, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), will be among health care staff from across Ontario demonstrating at Oshawa’s Lakeridge hospital on Tuesday, February 6, at 12:00 noon.
“We will be there calling for increased provincial funding for Kingston area hospitals and long-term care homes. Our hospital got barely a 2 per cent funding increase. We are constantly over-capacity and understaffed and this needs to change for patients’ sake,” says CUPE 1974 president Mike Rodrigues.
Tomorrow’s protest in Oshawa is the sixth provincial rally in just over a year, organized by CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). Kingston was the location of the first demonstration in the fall of 2016. CUPE represents about 60,000 hospital and long-term care staff in Ontario, about 1,400 are members of CUPE 1974 who work at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
Like their counterparts at other Ontario hospitals, CUPE 1974 members are concerned that small, temporary funding fixes, like the announcement last week by the Liberal health minister, will do little to ease chronic Ontario hospital overcrowding, and are not enough to restore decade-long cuts to patient care, beds and staffing. The issue of funding to provide a mandated four hours of resident care each day in long-term care is also unresolved, says OCHU president Michael Hurley.
Ontario hospitals need a yearly influx of a minimum 5.3 per cent funding increase to deal with inflationary costs, like rising prices for drugs and doctors’ salaries, according to the Fiscal Office of Accountability.
“The recent announcement in hospital funding represents less than half-a-percent increase in overall hospital funding, and the system is put on notice that funding stops for 1,200 hospital beds in April. To offset existing hospital cost pressures, overall funding will have to increase to 5.3 per cent, and it is at 3.6 per cent with this announcement. There is no indication that the government will do that, unfortunately. So cuts and access problems will continue. It is a given that our hospital system cannot withstand the closure of hospital beds in April,” says Hurley.
With an Ontario election just months away, the health policies of the two opposition parties need scrutiny, Hurley says. The Tory party program “suggests that $500 million in health care cuts are coming. Ontario’s New Democrats do not plan to fund for aging or population growth, leaving their plan for funding hospitals 2 per cent short.”
Tomorrow’s demonstration commits to step up the pressure on all three political parties, Hurley adds.
For more information, please contact:
Michael Hurley President, OCHU/CUPE 416-884-0770
Mike Rodrigues President, CUPE 1974 613-876-4309
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications 416-559-9300