SEIU Canada (Service Employees International Union - Canada)

SEIU Canada (Service Employees International Union - Canada)

October 07, 2009 16:01 ET

New Ontario Health Minister Welcomed by SEIU

QUEEN'S PARK, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 7, 2009) - The appointment of Deb Matthews as Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in a cabinet shuffle by Premier Dalton McGuinty was welcomed by Sharleen Stewart, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada.

"I look forward to working with Deb Matthews and engaging constructively with her on the stewardship of our healthcare system," said the president of the union that represents 46,000 healthcare workers in Ontario.

"Deb brings to the role an intimate understanding of the challenges facing the most vulnerable in our society and the vital role carers play in the health of our province," said Ms. Stewart, who spent several years on the frontline in hospitals.

"I also welcome the appointment of two women to senior cabinet roles that will give them responsibility for overseeing fields where historically the workforce has been dominated by women who have proven to be the backbone of the system time and again," said the most influential woman in the Canadian labour movement.

Jacob Leibovitch, executive director of SEIU Canada, urged Ms. Matthews to heed the lessons from the scandal over government procurement that engulfed her predecessor, David Caplan, who was banished to the back benches after revelations of favouritism towards friendly consultants in the awarding of $1-billion worth of contracts.

"The latest scandal underlines just how far off course the ministry had drifted, as pledges and priorities were forgotten and conflicts of interest mushroomed," said Mr. Leibovitch.

"The minister was brought down because he allowed profit-driven companies to gain a dangerous level of influence over a branch of public service critical to the health and well-being of all Canadians."

"Unfortunately, the latest scandal over electronic health records is only the tip of the ice berg. There are strong signs of questionable procurement practices and disturbing conflicts of interest at play in the way the ministry has been handing out contracts in the home care sector. I would urge Minister Matthews to address this urgently," he added.

Ms. Stewart said SEIU Local1 Canada would be vigilant in addressing the unique challenges faced by hospital staff working under the continual threat of budget cutbacks and job outsourcing.

"The revelations only reinforce our determination to protect healthcare workers - and patients - from the consequences of financial waste due to government mismanagement," she added.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and 2 million workers across North America.

Contact Information