SEIU Canada (Service Employees International Union - Canada)

SEIU Canada (Service Employees International Union - Canada)

October 20, 2009 18:01 ET

SEIU Canada: Health Minister's Defense of Canadian System Welcomed

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2009) - Deb Matthews was applauded for defending Canada's universal public healthcare system in her first speech as Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

The new minister's comments were welcomed by key stakeholders, led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 46,000 healthcare workers in Ontario.

The minister said the high-volume debate in the United States over the state of the American health system had made Canadians more appreciative of their healthcare. Ms. Matthews added that she had not met anyone who would trade Canada's healthcare system for the American one.

The minister acknowledged that public confidence in Ontario's healthcare system had been shaken by an auditor-general's report on spending at eHealth Ontario.

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Local 1 Canada, said: "The new minister has an opportunity to restore public confidence in Ontario's healthcare system."

"We look forward to a fresh approach and new set of priorities. We know that Deb will bring the perspective of a mom, a daughter, and a granddaughter to the portfolio, as well as the experience of a woman with two elderly parents," added Ms. Stewart.

Ms. Matthew's first speech as Health Minister was made to an audience that included SEIU and other key stakeholders in the health system.

The minister was appointed after her predecessor, David Caplan, resigned following the auditor-general's report on the awarding of contracts to consultants at eHealth.

Jacob Leibovitch, executive director of SEIU Canada, urged Ms. Matthews to heed the lessons from the eHealth scandal.

"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.

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