SEIU fighting health care cuts to Belleville hospitals

    BELLEVILLE, ON, April 7 /CNW/ - SEIU Local 1 Canada will file a grievance
to fight Quinte Heal Care's (QHC) decision to shut down 69 beds at its four
hospitals in the Belleville region. QHC will be reducing hospital beds from
324 to 255, a 21% decrease. This decision was announced on March 30, 2009.
    QHC is already underfunded and understaffed. Accident victims typically
sleep overnight in the emergency ward on stretchers. Instead of hiring more
health care workers, hospital staff has been working many overtime hours to
address the staff shortage. Close to 79 hospital staff, including six
full-time and four part-time SEIU members, will be laid off.
    "QHC clearly violated the terms of the collective agreement with SEIU,"
said Brad Philp, Chief of Staff - Hospitals, of SEIU Local 1 Canada. "They
were required to consult SEIU before they made the unilateral decision to cut
services and layoff hospital staff."
    Due to drastic health funding shortfalls hitting hospitals throughout
Ontario, claim they simply don't have the money to provide quality health
care. According to some estimates, nearly one-third of Ontario's hospitals are
having serious problems balancing their books.
    QHC is suffering from a $13-million shortfall. The Ontario government
requires hospitals to balance their books every year. Unable to cut costs, the
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care responded by appointing a supervisor to
manage the hospital's finances.
    A similar situation befell Kingston General Hospital (KGH) last year. In
the summer of 2008 the hospital's CEO was fired and taken over by the
provincial government. In January 2009 the government-appointed supervisor
announced KGH was cutting 40 acute care beds and eliminating 157 full-time
jobs. The hospital is already drawing up new plans to lay off another 400

    SEIU Local 1 Canada represents 46,000 workers in Ontario, 17,000 of who
work in hospitals throughout the province.

For further information:

For further information: Greg Dwulit, at (905) 660-1800 ext. 359

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