PEMBROKE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 26, 2016) - 1,000 hospital staff from across the province including some from Pembroke, Arnprior, Smiths Falls, Perth, Brockville, Almonte, Campbellford and other eastern Ontario communities will rally on Thursday, October 27, 2016 at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) calling for an end to Ontario's underfunding of hospital care.
Ontario has fallen far behind other provinces on hospital spending since the Liberals were elected provincially in 2003. The province has been cutting hospital budgets in real terms for 8 years.
"We are asking for an immediate end to the provincial funding cuts that are choking the life from Ontario hospitals," says Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) President, Mark Hancock one of the rally's keynote speakers.
Ontario spends 25.3 per cent less for hospitals than the other provinces, which translates to a $4.8 billion annual funding shortfall, leading to "unacceptably high readmission rates, bed shortages and six hours less nursing care for each Ontario patient compared with the rest of Canada," says Hancock.
In addition to those going from eastern Ontario, hospital workers attending the noon rally (on the Stuart Street side of KGH) are coming from Milton, Sudbury, North Bay, New Liskeard, Guelph, Hamilton, Stratford and throughout the Greater Toronto Area. They will first meet at City Park at 11:30 a.m. and march along Stuart Street to KGH.
Hospitals across Ontario are cutting beds, services and staff. Ontario now has the fewest hospital beds to population of any province in Canada and the fewest staff for those beds.
"We believe that the merger of Kingston's hospitals is designed to further cut beds and services, even though KGH has been without an available bed for up to 25 days in a row during the last year. Like most Ontario hospitals, Kingston hospitals simply do not have enough beds and staffing capacity for the number of patients needing care," says Michael Hurley president of CUPE's Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE.
Hospital staff represented by CUPE will be stepping up protests over provincial hospital funding cuts with demonstrations in 2017 in Hamilton on February 6, Kenora on April 26, Sudbury on June 15 and in Ottawa on October 19.