Province urged to invest in public hospitals, not private clinics

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A union representing thousands of hospital employees is urging the Ford government to stop siphoning resources to private clinics and for-profit corporations and instead look for solutions to the hospital staffing crisis within the public system.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents 25,000 members in 250 hospitals, held a news conference Wednesday morning at Queen’s Park.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the union said hospitals across the province have been operating beyond capacity, resulting in surgery backlogs, prolonged wait times for care, and emergency room closures.

The statement says the high stress work environment, coupled with the wage cuts of Bill 124, have caused hospital professionals, including many allied and diagnostic health professionals, to leave the field in droves – opting to retire early or change professions.

The province announced in August that it was going to increase the number of publicly covered surgeries at private clinics in a bid to ease healthcare pressures.

“We’re not going to solve this crisis by signing contract after contract with private, for-profit corporations and creating a two-tier health care system,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell. “We can solve it by investing in public hospitals and giving hospital professionals a voice in the allocation of that funding. We can solve it by increasing hospital professional staffing – not only doctors and nurses, but the full team of allied and diagnostic health professionals. And we can solve it by repealing Bill 124 so that hospital professionals are paid wages that reflect the value of the work they do.”