Sidewalk circus, community rallies oppose health care underfunding, service cuts by province

    TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - Toronto health care workers staged a sidewalk
circus today to underscore the fact that cuts to health care funding and
services have become a circus under the McGuinty government's restructuring
plan. The event, which featured stilt walking, mimes, juggling and unicyles,
comes as communities across Ontario prepare for massive "Listen UP! McGuinty"
public health care rallies this Saturday September 27th.
    "Our members are rallying all across the province on Saturday to tell the
premier to listen-up on health care," says Service Employees International
Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada president, Sharleen Stewart. "But that was not
enough. They say they have had enough of the government's broken promises, and
what better way to demonstrate how health care in Ontario has become a circus
than mounting one today."
    The Saturday rallies are in response to the havoc being wrought by the
McGuinty government's health care restructuring plan, including unelected
bodies such as the Local Health Integration Networks, cutting and privatizing
hospital services, spending too much on money-losing public-private
partnerships schemes, and downloading services such as eye surgery and
physiotherapy to for-profit clinics.
    "It is ludicrous that Toronto area hospitals are announcing layoffs,
reducing nursing hours when they don't have enough nurses to provide quality
care," says Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) President, Linda Haslam-Stroud,
RN. "The government has to step up before levels of care, in all sectors,
deteriorate any further."
    "It's time to take back our health system," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas,
President of the 130,000 member Ontario Public Service Employees Union
(OPSEU). "The Ontario government is embarked on a wild experiment with our
health system that risks the quality of care we all receive."
    Sid Ryan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Ontario, adds that health care is a basic human right. "Our health care system
is bought and paid for by residents through their tax dollars. It's ours and
we trust the government to manage it properly. McGuinty needs to know that the
people of Ontario will no longer tolerate the cuts to funding and services
arising through his mismanagement of this collective resource."
    The health care workers also cite Ontario's ranking of second worst in
standards of care in Canadian nursing homes, where Ontario seniors and care
providers endure serious accidents, injury and violence. For-profit
privatization of home care, hospital cuts, and health service transfers, are
also being highlighted at the province-wide rallies this Saturday.

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Barry Smith, Communications,
SEIU Local 1 Canada, (416) 528-9116

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