South East LHIN's announcement of $21 million budget cuts to area hospitals will endanger quality of care and will not pass without strong resistance from staff - union

TORONTO, Sept. 5, 2015 /CNW/ - "The announcement by the South East LHIN that it plans to cut hospital budgets in the region of the province that includes Brockville, Perth/Smith's Falls, Kingston, Quinte, Picton, Trenton and Belleville by $16 to $21 million dollars is staggering and will ultimately endanger patient care" said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. "This announcement comes on top of 4 years of budget cuts, which have reduced these hospitals budgets by 24% in real terms," Hurley explained.

Hospitals across the South East LHIN are cutting services in the face of a 5-year funding freeze imposed by the provincial Liberal government. An Ontario's Auditor General report quotes studies which estimated that hospitals need a 5.8% increase in funding each year just to keep pace with the costs of drugs, medical technologies and doctors' salaries which are rising faster than the general rate of inflation. The freeze has cut hospital budgets by 24% in real terms. Ontario hospitals were already the most efficient hospitals in the country with the fewest beds and staff and the shortest lengths of stay going into the budget freeze. Ontario spends $350 less per capita than any other province in Canada.

"We can predict that beds and services will close as a result of funding cuts of this magnitude. Access problems will intensify and quality of care will deteriorate further. Women and the elderly will be hit hardest. The hospital staff that we represent will plan a stiff resistance, including demonstrations, rallies, lobbying, advertising and public engagement," said Hurley.

Ontario's Liberals dropped the corporate income tax rate to one of the lowest in North America, and economists estimate that the province has lost nearly $20 billion in revenue. This drop in tax revenue triggered austerity in provincial expenditures including a 5-year funding freeze for Ontario hospitals, already the worst funded per capita in Canada. "Ontario's hospitals are the least expensive and most efficient in the country and they are starved of operating revenue. It's time for the provincial government to reverse the deep cuts it has made in hospital budgets in Ontario. The announcement of budget cuts of $20,000,000 to hospitals in the South East LHIN is surely an indicator of how bad the situation has become," said Hurley.

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: Michael Hurley, President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 416-884-0770; Eric Newstadt, Researcher, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions: 416-820-4493


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