CUPE hospital workers meeting in Hamilton today to push Province to honour funding commitments

    HAMILTON, ON, Jan. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Hospital workers from 3 locals of the
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 4500 hospital staff,
are meeting in Hamilton today to plan how to press the provincial government
to honour its health care funding commitments.
    "The McGuinty government must honour its funding commitments to health
care," said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital
Unions/CUPE (OCHU), in Hamilton today to meet with hospital workers. "Freezing
hospital funding would kill 9000 Ontario health care jobs, 5000 of them
through lay-off, degrading patient care across the province in a system where
half of Ontario hospitals are already facing deficits."
    "Hamilton has been hit hard by the McGuinty government's chronic
underfunding of health care," Hurley said. "St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton
is facing a deficit of around $37 million and is threatening to privatize
cleaning jobs in a misguided attempt to save some money that will put hygiene
at risk."
    Hurley noted that even if the province keeps its promise of a 2.1 per
cent funding increase, there will still be deep cuts because the rate of
inflation for hospitals is 3.5 per cent. With a 2.1 per cent funding increase
- still 1.4 per cent below inflation - Ontario hospitals would leave up to
4000 positions unfilled and up to 1000 hospital employees would be laid off.
    "Chronic underfunding of Ontario hospitals, including at St Joe's, is
leading to job cuts through attrition and lay-offs, service cuts and degraded
patient care across the province," says Hurley. "But you can't cut jobs
without affecting the quality of patient care and, in the case of
housekeeping, dramatically increasing the risk of hospital infections by
bringing in for-profit cleaning companies that train less, pay less and lose
staff more often."
    Hurley noted that recent studies by the think-tank Informetrica found
that $1 billion invested in health care creates 18,100 jobs. The same billion
dollars invested in infrastructure creates 12,500 jobs.
    "Investing in health care makes good economic sense," Hurley said. "The
McGuinty government can protect Hamilton health care and strengthen its local
economy by investing in St. Joe's, not running it into the ground and setting
it up for privatization and contracting out."

For further information:

For further information: Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE, cell
(416) 884-0770; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431

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