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

    STRATFORD, ON, Jan. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Hospital workers from 4 locals of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 2000 hospital
staff, are meeting in Stratford 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."
    "Health care in Stratford is threatened by the McGuinty government's
chronic underfunding," Hurley said. "The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance is
facing a deficit of around $1 million in 2009 and faces possible closures of
emergency rooms (ERs)."
    Hurley pointed out that the South West Local Health Integration Network
(LHIN) is "studying" emergency rooms (ERs) in the region.
    "This should raise concern," Hurley said. "Already, ERs in Hamilton, Port
Colborne, Fort Erie, Leamington, Wallaceburg and Petrolia have been closed or
cut back. The future of Huron Perth ERs is not clear."
    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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