Ombudsman's report on LHINs only a first step: OPSEU

TORONTO, Aug. 11 /CNW/ - Ombudsman André Marin's devastating report on the secret decision-making world of Local Health Integration Networks has exposed rot at the core of LHINs and the time's arrived to reform them altogether, says the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"The findings made by André Marin cry out for a full investigation into the ways these undemocratic LHINs go about their decision making," said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "The genie is out of the bottle and no matter how hard he tries, the premier won't ever get it back in.

"We salute Ombudsman Marin's efforts, but the job won't be finished until LHINs are overhauled by putting the public interest first. That's never been the case since the day they were created five years ago."

In his report released yesterday, Marin was blunt: Community engagement in local decision-making around hospital closures and service cutbacks has been "meaningless." Most appalling, LHINs have deliberately adopted bylaws that guarantee that public advocates shall have no input into local decision-making. The Ministry of Health has since ordered the province's 14 LHINs to overturn those anti-democratic measures.

Thomas said the McGuinty government bears responsibility for the mess in which LHINs find themselves. It has evaded its legislative requirement to conduct a full review of LHINs and the legislation that governs them, all the while moving ahead with health care cuts and restructuring.

"It's not enough to say the problem will take care of itself. It won't. The prescription needed to cure this sick public body is strong leadership and we haven't seen much of that," said Thomas.

He paid tribute to the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) which has doggedly advocated for changes to the way LHINs conduct their business. At a round of public hearings earlier this year that attracted more than 1,150 participants and received close to 500 oral and written presentations, the OHC recommended sweeping changes to the LHINs.

"We determined that the LHINs are so lacking in public confidence, so flawed in their size and confused in their mandate, that we have recommended that the province change direction and create new accountable regional planning bodies closer to home with a principled and clear mandate," the OHC report said.

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: For further information: Greg Hamara, OPSEU Communications, 416-443-8888 ext 8777 office

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