Niagara Region residents short-changed on health, public services because of provincial underfunding

    THOROLD, ON, Aug. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Chronic provincial underfunding is
short-changing residents of Niagara Region of the public services they need
like accessible health care, according to the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
    "Residents have bought and paid for these public services with their
hard-earned tax dollars and yet the provincial government is intent on
starving public services that are rightly needed by residents," said CUPE
Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn. "A case in point is the new Niagara
Health System 'improvement plan,' which to the contrary means that services
will be cut or relocated. Residents will have to travel hours to get the
health care services they need and that is unacceptable."
    Under the plan, all obstetric and pediatric services in the region will
be moved to the new St. Catharine's site. Emergency departments will be closed
in Port Colborne and Fort Erie. "We are seeing these 'restructuring' plans
across the province and in every case, they are disguising the fact that
residents are losing vital services in their communities," said Hahn.
    Child support and protection services that help children, youth and
parents in the Niagara Region are also being cut because of serious
underfunding. Already, Family and Children's Services Niagara have cut two
Best Start and Early Learning and Parenting programs and a day care centre.
"In these times when families are stressed, parents need these programs and
supports to meet the needs of their children," said Carolyn Taylor, President
of CUPE 1287 representing social workers.
    Hahn added that municipalities are so squeezed for cash that they think
public-private partnerships (P3s) will save them money when building arenas,
water treatment plants and other community facilities. "They're wrong. Because
for-profit operators must make a profit, P3s cost more and deliver less.
Niagara Falls, Windsor, Kingston and Oshawa have all rejected P3s. We hope
that the City of Welland, who earlier this year was considering a P3 sports
arena, has really put that idea to rest."
    Tomorrow night, CUPE Ontario is putting on a free rock concert with April
Wine and guest band, The Figure Four, to celebrate and bring home to Niagara
Region residents the importance of public services in building and
strengthening communities. "Residents need to stand up for quality public
services and not let politicians starve them of funds or sell them off through
privatization, contracting out or relocation of these jobs and services," Hahn
    "With declines in the auto and manufacturing sectors, Niagara Region
can't afford to lose more good jobs," says Hahn. "Jobs like those in public
services provide decent wages and benefits for workers and their families.
They also contribute in a big way to the local economy."

For further information:

For further information: Fred Hahn, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario,
(416) 540-3979; Carolyn Taylor, President, CUPE 1287, (905) 321-8275; Luc
Tittley, CUPE Communications, (416) 910-2389

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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