Deep hospital cuts and a Harris-like commission to do the cutting
TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - The recent cost-cutting report of the Drummond Commission which offers
many failed ideas from the Mike Harris era including shrinking, cutting
and merging hospitals and other health services through a restructuring
commission, poses an enormous credibility challenge for the Premier if
the advice is followed, says Michael Hurley the Ontario president of
the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
Should the Liberals heed privatization commissioner Don Drummond and cut
health funding considerably until 2017-18, about $4 billion would be
carved out of health spending increases over the first three years
"The funding cuts that Drummond is pushing will be much deeper and last
longer than the Harris era. It begs the question, 'can Dalton McGuinty
be more destructive than Mike Harris'?" Asks Hurley.
While proposing deep cuts to health funding, Drummond also asserts that
the health system be put through another torturous round of
restructuring. To shepherd this downsizing, he proposes a government
commission similar to the Harris Health Services Restructuring
Commission (HSRC) which was given statutory powers from 1996 to 2000 to
expedite hospital mergers, closures and program cuts. As opposition
leader Dalton McGuinty railed against the Harris commission for closing
hospitals, cutting nurses and distancing the Harris government from the
"Everyone but Drummond seems to have regretted the expensive and
destructive restructuring of health care by the HSRC, which wound up
spending 4 billion dollars to achieve 1 billion dollars in savings. The
Harris-style health service restructuring being argued for by Drummond
will compromise patient care. An arms length commission is just a
political device for the government to dodge responsibility for deep
cuts to health services," Hurley says.
Excerpts from Ontario Hansard directed at the then health minister and
Harris the Premier show McGuinty vehemently opposing HSRC hospital
cuts. On February 20, 1997 McGuinty says: "Minister, it's your hospital cuts that are the problem. Will you stop
cutting dollars from Ontario hospitals?"
On March 6, 1997, McGuinty says: "Today the Premier closed 11 hospitals in Metropolitan Toronto and 14
emergency departments…….Premier, I understand this legal fiction that
somehow there's a commission out there over which you have no control,
but the people of this province understand that when it comes to any
locked door of any hospital in this province, it will be your
fingerprints on that door, nobody else's."
OCHU represents over 30,000 hospital workers and is the hospital
division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario.
SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)
For further information:
Michael Hurley President, OCHU (416) 884-0770
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications (416) 559-9300