CUPE hospital workers meeting in Timmins today to push Province to erase hospital deficits

    TIMMINS, ON, Jan. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Hospital workers from 18 locals of
the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing 4000 hospital
staff, are meeting in Timmins today to press the provincial government to
erase hospital deficits.
    "The McGuinty government must deal with the crisis of hospital deficits
across Ontario," said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of
Hospital Unions/CUPE (OCHU), in Timmins today to meet with hospital workers
from communities in the region, including Timmins, North Bay and Sudbury.
    "Patient care is being degraded with jobs slashed and services cut in a
system where more than half of Ontario hospitals face deficits," Hurley said.
"The good news is that communities are fighting back, like in Sudbury, where
the community pressured the McGuinty government to invest in 24 new interim
transitional care beds. This hasn't solved the beds crisis at Sudbury Regional
Hospital, but it sure helps."
    Health Minister David Caplan recently indicated that a funding increase
of 2.1 per cent should be forthcoming in the next provincial budget. Hurley
noted that even if the province keeps its promise of 2.1, 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.
    But investing in health care is good for local economies, Hurley pointed
out. He said 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 the North and strengthen local
economies by erasing hospitals deficits and providing full funding."

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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