Hospital Unions Projecting 5,000 Job Losses, Serious Cutbacks to Patient Care if McGuinty Fails to Address Hospital Underfunding

    TORONTO, Jan. 12 /CNW/ - In a joint press conference this morning,
leadership from four major hospital unions representing more than 80,000
hospital staff warned of large scale job losses and downsizing in Ontario's
hospitals. In a briefing note, the unions warned that underfunding at
currently planned levels translates into a cutback of 5,000 full time jobs and
more than 9 million hours of patient care. Serious hospital cutbacks are
threatened at hospitals of every size (small, medium and large) in every
region of Ontario.
    "Hospital downsizing is already resulting in longer waits for patients,
user fees for patients, and loss of services," noted Patty Rout, Vice
President and Treasurer of OPSEU. "We are warning the public and the
government that these cuts are hurting our communities and our patients. It is
time for Premier Dalton McGuinty to take a much more serious look at the
impacts of the planned underfunding and listen to the concerns that are being
raised by all of the health care unions and thousands of people in communities
across Ontario."
    "At currently planned funding levels, we are projecting a cut of 5,000
full time jobs in the hospital sector. This translates to a cut of more than 9
million hours in patient care," warned Michael Hurley, President of the
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. "We are gravely concerned that even
these levels of funding may not be met in the budget this spring, and the
results would be devastating."
    "Ontario is already staggering under the impact of the manufacturing job
losses and the recession," warned Ken Lewenza, National President of the CAW.
"In hard economic times, workers who have lost their jobs lose health care
benefits as well, and the need for hospital services is all the more pressing.
This is not the time for the provincial government to contemplate large-scale
hospital cuts and restructuring."
    "Already, the provincial government is attempting to push through the
closure of two small and rural hospitals in Niagara. We have not seen cuts
like this since the deeply damaging Harris government restructuring in the
mid-1990s," said Cathy Carroll, Secretary Treasurer of SEIU local 1 Canada.
"These closures should serve as a warning to small and rural communities
across Ontario that their Emergency Departments, and even entire hospitals,
are now at risk."

                                BRIEFING NOTE

    This year and next, provincial budget levels for hospital global budgets
are insufficient to meet hospital rates of inflation, population growth, and
the effects of an aging society.

    -   In 2008/09 provincial budget levels for hospital global budgets
        increase by 2.4%. In 2009/10 the planned level drops to 2.1%. These
        levels are less than what hospitals require to maintain existing
    -   Approximately 50% of Ontario's hospitals have been in deficit this
        year. At the projected funding levels for hospital global budgets in
        2009/10 approximately 70% of Ontario's hospitals will be in deficit.

    At the provincial government's planned levels of funding for hospital
global budgets for 2009/10, we project 5,000 job losses in Ontario's hospital
sector. This includes 4,000 jobs eliminated through attrition and 1,000 more
through layoff. This is in addition to layoffs already announced to date in

    -   Based on the plans that have been made public to date, job losses
        will occur across all the professions and classifications - including
        doctors, nurses, health professionals, support staff and
        administration - affecting hospitals of all sizes (small, medium and
        large) in every geographic region of the province.
    -   Lay offs announced already include reductions in the size of the
        workforce by more than 1,000 FTE (full time equivalent) positions for
        nurses, doctors, health professionals and support staff in Hamilton,
        London, Ajax and Kingston alone.

    Hospital downsizing at current projected levels of funding for 2009/10
will result in a cutback of more than 9 million hours of patient care.

    -   Each full time position in hospitals translates to between 1,820 (35
        hours a week) and 1,950 hours of care (37.5 hours a week). This "rule
        of thumb" is used across most classifications in hospitals. Thus, a
        downsizing of 5,000 hospital positions translates to a loss of
        between 9,100,000 hours of care up to 9,750,000 hours of patient
        care. Each 1,000 positions lost translates to between 1,820,000 and
        1,950,000 hours of lost patient care.

    Current cutbacks as a result of the planned underfunding of hospital
global budgets include serious cuts to direct patient care:

    -   planned closure of hospitals in small and rural communities
    -   closure of local birthing services
    -   elimination of services such as physiotherapy and chiropody in some
    -   potential closure of Emergency Departments in smaller communities
    -   decreased hospital cleanliness and increased risk of hospital
        acquired infections such as C.Difficile
    -   increased bed occupancy, causing cancellation of surgeries,
        backlogged emergency rooms and increased hospital acquired infections
    -   privatization of patient services
    -   increased user fees for patients
    -   significant job losses and downsizing.

    In December, the Ontario Health Coalition released a cross-province list
of hospital service cuts. The report can be accessed at

For further information:

For further information: Shannon Devine, CAW, (416) 302-1699; Micheal
Hurley, OCHU/CUPE, (416) 884-0770; Rick Janson, OPSEU, (416) 525-3324; Barry
Smith, SEIU, (416) 528-9116

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