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

    KINGSTON, ON, Jan. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Hospital workers from 15 locals of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 8000 hospital
staff, are meeting in Kingston 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 Kingston today to rally 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," Hurley
    "Eastern Ontario has been hit hard by the McGuinty government's chronic
underfunding," Hurley said. "Hospitals in Ottawa, Cornwall, Belleville and
Kingston are already facing deficits. If the province freezes funding, it
would cost 9000 jobs. By comparison, 9800 jobs would be lost if Chrysler
Canada went under."
    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 Kingston General,
is leading to job cuts through attrition and lay-offs, service cuts and
degraded patient care across the province," says Hurley. "For KGH, the
"performance improvement plan" is the end result - hundreds of jobs chopped,
some through attrition and some through reorganization. But you can't cut jobs
without affecting the quality of patient care. Patient care will be degraded."
    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 Kingston health care and strengthen its local
economy by investing in KGH, not running it into the ground."

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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