Media Advisory - Major escalation in campaign against cuts to beds and services at North Bay hospital

NORTH BAY, ON, Oct. 2, 2015 /CNW/ - Staff of the North Bay Regional Health Centre, represented by CUPE Local 139, will hold a media conference on Friday October 2 at 1 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion, 150 First Ave. (in the Dress Lounge) to announce a major campaign innovation - an electronic town hall to which the entire community will be called to participate.

North Bay Regional Health Centre will close 30 beds and cut 150 staff in the latest attempts to balance its budget. This is on top of bed closures and staff reductions announced year- after-year.

"We will call everyone in North Bay at home to invite them to discuss the cuts at the hospital and how they can help. This has never been done before in Ontario to deal with hospital cutbacks," says Shawn Shank, president of CUPE local 139. "We know that the public opposes the cuts at the hospital, the recent unanimous motion of city council reflects that. People want to know what they can do and we are going to talk about that."

Ontario has frozen hospital funding for 4 years. Estimates cited by the Auditor General calculate that hospitals need a 5.8 % increase annually just to meet their basic costs, "and as a result the budget for the North Bay Health Centre has been cut by over 20% in real terms over this period," says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU). "Readmission rates at the North Bay hospital show a sharp increase as the cuts have taken hold, so quality of care is breaking down under these cuts, which are the deepest in Ontario."

OCHU northeastern Ontario vice-president Sharon Richer stressed that "North Bay is horribly squeezed between the private public partnership model it was forced to use to build the new hospital and a 4 year funding freeze.  The province must fund its hospitals properly."

A postcard campaign directed to the minister of health, Eric Hoskins, will kick off this week.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Shawn Shank, President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 139: (705) 492-3600; Sharon Richer, Northeastern Ontario Vice-president, OCHU: (705) 280-0911; Michael Hurley, President, OCHU: (416) 884-0770; Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications: (416) 559-9300


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