KITCHENER, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– Front-line hospital workers delivered a petition to the St. Mary’s General Hospital management staff on Monday afternoon, calling on the hospital president to take a stand against the provincial government’s plan to privatize hospital services.
The action was part of a demonstration of about 100 healthcare workers organized by a coalition of five health-care unions outside the hospital, in response to Bill 60, the recently passed legislation that diverts money from public hospitals to private, for-profit clinics to perform surgeries and other procedures.
The petition was signed by more than 700 workers including nurses, personal support workers, housekeepers, lab technologists, clerical and other staff. The signatories comprise a majority of the unionized workforce at the hospital in Kitchener, represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), Unifor and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO).
Instead of going along with the Ford government’s privatization agenda, St. Mary’s workers are demanding management join their call for investments in higher staffing levels, and a meaningful recruitment and retention strategy, to improve patient care and help clear the surgical backlog that Ford is using as an excuse for privatization.
Since the provincial government’s push to privatize hospital services and bring in investor-led clinics was made public, members of ONA, Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare), CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), Unifor and OPSEU/SEFPO have all launched campaigns at community hospitals. This is the third in a series of such rallies being organized across the province.
Hospital staff say this Ontario PC plan would devastate the services in most of Ontario’s public hospitals, including Kitchener’s, and threaten public health care.
“The Ford government is sitting on a $22 billion dollar surplus, instead of investing in our critically understaffed public hospitals and paying workers fair wages. Ontario’s health care crisis has been manufactured to divert public funds into private, for-profit clinics – and shareholders’ pockets. But healthcare workers at St. Mary’s General, and across Ontario, are organizing and standing up together to say: ‘our patients’ lives are not for profit!’ Because when we organize, when we fight together, we win!” – JP Hornick, President of OPSEU/SEFPO
“As a registered nurse with many years’ experience working in the emergency department of this hospital, I know only too well the impact that any further erosion in our public, non-profit hospital system will have on patients. ONA wholeheartedly rejects Doug Ford’s plan for corporations to profit from the health needs of our patients. To improve care and shorten wait times, we need to see St. Mary’s General Hospital invest in a staff retention and recruitment plan.” – Erin Ariss, RN, President of Ontario Nurses’ Association.
“Ontarians from every corner of this province stand united in the fight against Doug Ford’s health care privatization agenda, not just for health care workers, but for the very soul of our health care system. Our message is clear – Ontario public health care is not for sale.” – Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.
“The profits of Doug Ford’s rich donors are not worth risking health care for all. Wait times will get longer because investor-led clinics will draw frontline staff away from public hospitals. Staffing shortages will get worse by handing health care delivery over to the kind of big care-cutting corporations that destroyed long-term care for seniors. And services will get cut for patients that can’t afford to pay extra fees. Taken together, Ford’s privatization plan is a disaster for health care in Ontario.” – Tyler Downey, Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU Healthcare.
“Hospital workers across Ontario are sending a strong message to their management and the government – we will not accept the privatization of hospital services. We will continue fighting to improve our public health care system, in solidarity with each other and our communities. Public funds should be used for our public system – not to enrich private corporations and their shareholders.” – Sharon Richer, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).