Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

September 27, 2007 12:59 ET

PRIVATE SECTOR UNIONS SAY NO WAY TO PRIVATE HEALTH CARE

Attention: Assignment Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Media Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(Marketwire - Sept. 27, 2007) - Private sector unions in Ontario have nothing good to say about Conservative leader John Tory's stance on opening Ontario's doors to two-tier private health care. For-profit health care will drive up the costs of members' benefit plans and create new pressures at the bargaining table. This approach does not work in the United States and will be terrible for working families, their communities and even for the business community in this province.

"Canada's public Medicare system is a social wage that benefits all workers. By providing access to health care based on need, not on ability to pay, the Canadian system provides a measure of equality that benefits millions," said Terry Downey, the OFL officer responsible for health care. "It is also good for our economy."

"This is a giant step towards the Americanization of our public health care system," said Wayne Fraser, Director of District 6 of the United Steelworkers (USW). "The transfer of our local hospital services to for-profit ownership is a giant step towards the Americanization of our health system. Over the last two decades, the United States has seen a massive transfer in hospital ownership from non-profit to for-profit. The results have been terrible for working families."

"For-profit hospitals will drive up the costs of our members' benefit plans, creating new pressures at the bargaining table," said Cec Makowski Vice-President of the Ontario Region of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP). "After the loss of so many manufacturing and resource jobs in this province and the total lack of action by the McGuinty government - workers and their communities don't need another hit like private health care fees. Don't destroy our local hospitals by bringing in U.S.-style for-profit hospitals."

"In the U.S., costs in for-profit hospitals are higher than in non-profits. The for-profits charge an array of extra fees, and lobby for deregulation and more opportunities for profit," said Dave Ritchie Canadian General Vice-President of the Machinists (IAM). "In the United States, health insurance is running at more than 14% inflation. Out-of-control profit taking, exorbitant executive salaries are driving up costs in the privatized hospital system. The consequence has been ballooning health benefits costs. Ontario's workers and industry cannot afford to follow this destructive path." A recent study by the American Kaiser Foundation points out that average employee health premiums in the United States now amount to $10,800 a year - more than the gross earnings of minimum wage workers. On average, employees with benefits pay $3,718 of that total, with employers picking up the balance.

"We know what our members in the United States are going through at the bargaining table trying to win and keep health care benefits", said Wayne Hanley, National President, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada (UFCW-Canada). "We are deeply concerned about proposals by politicians to privatize our hospital services. Allowing for-profit hospital and clinic operators to bid on funding will usher in American for-profit hospital chains to take over our community hospital services."

"There are already shortages of nurses, doctors and specialists across Ontario," Executive Vice-President Downey said. "We are concerned that the for-profit hospital plan will worsen those shortages, taking scarce staff out of our local hospitals, forcing our members to travel further to access care.

"We are asking all politicians to resist the powerful private health care lobbyists and commit to building up services in our local hospitals, rather than endangering them by opening our border to the US-style for-profit hospitals."

cope343 /For further information: Terry Downey
OFL Executive Vice-President
416.578.3230 (cellular)/ IN: HEALTH, LABOUR, MEDIA, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, OFL Communications Director
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138