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

    PETERBOROUGH, ON, Jan. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Hospital workers from 5 locals of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 4000 hospital
staff, are meeting in Peterborough 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 Peterborough today to meet with hospital workers from
nine communities in the region, including Oshawa, Whitby, Uxbridge,
Campbellford, Port Perry, Lindsay and Bowmanville, as well as Peterborough.
    "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 more than half of Ontario hospitals are already facing deficits,"
Hurley said.
    "Health care in the Central East LHIN is clearly under constant strain
from the McGuinty government's chronic underfunding," Hurley said.
"Peterborough Regional Health Centre has faced a structural deficit for years
and, despite its recent expansion, is now facing even more financial stress
due to provincial inflexibility on the terms of funding."
    Peterborough RHC carried a deficit of $6.5 million last year and is now
up to $5 million just halfway through the current fiscal year, Hurley noted.
    "Meanwhile, cuts to preventative services like the acute foot-care clinic
mean more costs down the road when patients suffer preventable complications.
It doesn't make sense," Hurley said.
    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.
    Hurley said 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 health care in Stratford and area and
strengthen its local economy by providing adequate funding and refusing to
close departments and cut services."

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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