OTTAWA, ON – Over the last few years, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 942 at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, have often boarded buses at the crack of dawn to join thousands of like-minded defenders of public health care at several large ‘Stop the Cuts’ rallies across the province.


On Wednesday (January 16) at 7:00 p.m., they will be honoured for their dedication to protect public health care at a ceremony at The Royal, Auditorium – 1145 Carling Ave.


“In communities throughout Ontario, frontline hospital staff, like Amir Sigarchi, the president of CUPE 942, at The Royal are advocating for quality patient care and better provincial funding, particularly for under-resourced mental health programs and services. We believe Amir and CUPE 942 members should be recognized for their commitment to defend public health services,” says Louis Rodrigues, 1st Vice-President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).


Hospital funding in Ontario lags behind other provinces and patient care is impacted greatly as a result. In the last 15 years, 18,000 beds – many of the them mental health beds – have been cut from the hospital system.


“For patients who need immediate care, access to a mental bed has become increasingly difficult. This puts enormous strain on families who are left coping with the challenges of finding mental health supports for their loved one in the community. Often it takes weeks before they get into a program,” says Sigarchi. Making the hospital safer for patients and ending violence against staff is also a priority for Sigarchi.


The next ‘Stop the Cuts’ rally is slated for April 23, 2019 in Toronto.


In Ontario, CUPE represents more than 75,000 health care staff, about 40,000 of them work at more than 120 hospital sites province-wide.