Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour
Ontario Health Coalition

Ontario Health Coalition

January 18, 2016 12:00 ET

Patients, Concerned Citizens and Workers Rally Outside Pre-Budget Hearings to Stop Devastating Hospital Cuts, Privatization

HAMILTON, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 18, 2016) - As MPPs from all three political parties from the Ontario Legislature traveled to Hamilton for pre-budget hearings today, they were met with protests by patients, concerned residents and health care workers. The message was clear: stop the devastating cuts to - and privatization of - our local hospital services. The Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has heard from community advocates who have made submissions to budget hearings for almost a decade warning that the cuts are harming patients. But the government is refusing to listen. This year, local health coalitions across Ontario are staging protests outside the hearings to stop the cuts, in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Labour.

"Nine consecutive years of real-dollar cuts have plunged Ontario into the bottom of the country in hospital funding. Patients are being left on stretchers in hallways, surgeries are being cancelled and vital health services are being privatized, subject to user fees, or moved out of town," said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "It is beyond time that these devastating hospital cuts and the privatization of hospital services be stopped. The Ontario government must restore our public hospital funding to at least the average of all the other provinces in Canada."

Hamilton's hospitals alone have faced more than $150 million in cuts over the last 9 years, including tens of millions to be cut again this year. Services including the cancer lodge, fertility clinic, Breathworks program for patients with lung disease and an entire emergency department, which was closed to adults, have been shut down in Hamilton. Departments all across the hospital have been slashed, including operating rooms, urgent care, outpatient physiotherapy, pharmacy, outpatient labs and social work. Mental health beds and services are being cut. Patient support services, including diagnostics and surgeries are being cut and privatized.

"Every day we are seeing the devastating impact of these cuts on patients and their families," said Rolf Gerstenberger, chair of the Hamilton Health Coalition. "Recently, I spoke with a gentleman whose surgery had been cancelled multiple times because of cuts to the hospital's budget and staffing shortages. The stress being put on patients and their families is unreasonable and unjust, and with millions in cuts annually in Hamilton, it's not possible that patient care would not be sacrificed. At the end of the day, these are austerity measures designed to cut costs, without any regard for patient needs. These cuts run contrary to the very notion of public Medicare for all."

"Here in Hamilton, we are seeing the effects of austerity in every community. Hospital cuts, hydro privatization, mounting student debt, precarious jobs and Canada's lowest social program funding are taking their toll in every neighbourhood," said Ahmad Gaied, Executive Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. "Ontarians are calling on the Wynne Government to abandon her austerity agenda and lay out a plan for restoring public services, growing our economy, expanding Ontario's revenue base and lifting standards for everyone. The next Ontario budget shouldn't be constrained by government cuts, it should create an Ontario in which everyone prospers."

www.ofl.ca, www.twitter.com/oflabour, www.Facebook.com/OFLabour

Contact Information

  • Hamilton Health Coalition
    Rolf Gerstenberger
    Chair
    289-260-9547

    Ontario Health Coalition
    Natalie Mehra
    Executive Director
    416-230-6402 (cell)