Residents of Durham Region short-changed on health, other public services due to provincial underfunding

    AJAX, ON, Aug. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Chronic provincial underfunding is
short-changing residents of Durham Region of the public services they need
like accessible health care and safe, clean schools, according to the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
    "Residents have bought and paid for these public services with their
hard-earned tax dollars and yet the province is doing nothing while
Ajax-Pickering Hospital cuts vital health services and local schools grapple
with budgets that aren't big enough to meet our children's needs," says CUPE
Ontario President Sid Ryan. "Durham Region is one of Canada's fastest growing
communities, yet the provincial government is intent on starving public
services that are rightly needed by residents."
    Durham Region already receives the lowest per capita health care dollars
in the GTA. Now Ajax-Pickering Hospital is set to lose mental health beds, and
cardiology, surgery and rehab beds, because of restructuring by the Central
East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and the Rouge Valley Health
System. The quality of services will also be negatively impacted when many
workers who deliver them are laid off.
    On the education front, local school boards are jeopardizing special
needs children by constantly threatening to lay off Educational Assistants
(EAs) according to the union. Each budget year, these vulnerable children lose
more Educational Assistant time and schools try to lay off the custodial and
clerical workers who keep schools safe and clean for our children.
    The trend for governments at the local and provincial levels to contract
out services to private operators or enter into public-private partnerships
(P3s) to build community facilities is also proving expensive for taxpayers.
"Municipalities think public-private partnerships will save them money when
building arenas, water treatment plants and other community facilities, but
they're wrong," said Ryan. "Because for-profit operators must make a profit,
P3s cost more and deliver less. Just ask Oshawa. After a huge public outcry,
Oshawa Council backed off privatizing the GM sports arena because it made no
economic sense."
    Tomorrow night, CUPE Ontario is putting on a free rock concert with April
Wine and guest band, The Side Project, to celebrate and bring home to
residents the importance of public services in building and strengthening
communities. "Residents need to stand up for quality public services and not
let politicians starve them of funds or sell them off through privatization,
contracting out or relocation of these jobs and services," he added.

For further information:

For further information: Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario, President, (416)
209-0066; Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647) 225-3685

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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