Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

June 04, 2007 12:38 ET

Health Systems Improvement Act Threatens Key Services, OPSEU Says

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 4, 2007) - Changes to provincial health legislation passed last week threaten to undermine Ontario's public health laboratories and the delivery of counseling services across the province, according to the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"In its rush to push Bill 171 through before the legislature rises for the fall election, the McGuinty government is putting Ontarians' health at risk," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

One of the omnibus bill's key features is the creation of a new Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, which will take over 12 provincial public health labs from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

"Setting this agency up outside the Ontario Public Service is a bad idea," said Thomas. "It will weaken government accountability for the funding and operation of the public health labs and other key services, and it flies in the face of Justice Archie Campbell's recommendations following the SARS crisis."

Compounding this threat is the government's failure to guarantee that no public health lab services will be cut or downloaded, and that the jobs, wages, pensions and collective agreement rights of the labs' 600 unionized employees will be protected under the new agency, OPSEU says.

Meanwhile, the bill's clumsy move to regulate psychotherapy will jeopardize counseling services delivered by thousands of health and social service professionals in Ontario.

"The bill combines a very broad definition of what constitutes psychotherapy with very narrow restrictions on who can perform these services," said Thomas.

"This could prevent thousands of professionals - from child and youth workers and developmental service workers to people who work in women's shelters and other community agencies - from delivering counseling services that are a key part of their work."

Contact Information

    Myles Magner
    (416) 443-8888, ext. 8777