Liberal government cuts of $11.5 million to Quinte Health Services will devastate hospital programs in the region

TORONTO, Nov. 23, 2015 /CNW/ - "Plans to cut hospital budgets in Picton, Trenton and Belleville by 11.5 million dollars will endanger patient care" said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. "The 84 staff positions eliminated and the program cuts across Quinte Health Care (QHC) will leave the Trenton hospital a shell ready for closure, shift services to Kingston where access is already a pressing issue and privatize and slash already threadbare hospital services to an unsustainable level," Hurley said.

Hospitals across Ontario are cutting services in the face of a 5-year funding freeze imposed by the provincial Liberal government. An Ontario Auditor General's report quotes studies which estimate that healthcare needs a 5.8% increase in funding each year just to keep pace with the costs of drugs, medical technologies and doctors' salaries – all rising faster than the general rate of inflation. The provincial Liberals' freeze has cut hospital budgets by 20% in real terms. Ontario hospitals were already the most efficient in the country with the fewest beds and staff and the shortest lengths of stay before the budget freeze. Ontario spends $350 less per capita on its hospitals than any other province.

"It is time for this region's Member of Provincial Parliament, Mr. Lou Rinaldi,  to speak up for his constituents within the Liberal caucus rather than explaining the Liberal government's cutbacks to his communities," said Mike Rodrigues, Acting President of CUPE Local 1974, which represents staff at the Kingston General Hospital, where some programs will be shifted. " A demonstration held on November 13 in Trenton sponsored by the Ontario Healthcare Coalition was the beginning of a surge in opposition to the cutbacks at QHC. We plan to bring this issue to Mr. Rinaldi's doorstep now."

Ontario's Liberals dropped their corporate income tax rate to the lowest in North America, and the province has lost nearly $20 billion in revenue as a result. This drop in tax revenue triggered austerity in provincial expenditures including a 5-year funding freeze for Ontario hospitals, already the worst funded per capita in Canada. " Ontario's hospitals are the least expensive and most efficient in the country and they are starved of operating revenue. It's time for the provincial government to reverse the deep cuts it has made in hospital budgets .The announcement of budget cuts of $11.5 million to hospitals in the Quinte Health Care cannot go unchallenged," said Hurley.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 416-884-0770; Mike Rodrigues, Acting President, CUPE Local 1974: 613-876-4309


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