(2009), "Canada - Ontario health jobs at risk, unions warn", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 22 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2009.06222cab.002Download as .RIS
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Canada - Ontario health jobs at risk, unions warn
Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 22, Issue 3
Keywords: Healthcare Funding, Patient Care, Quality healthcare services
Nearly 5,000 health-care jobs could be lost along with 9 million hours of patient care if provincial hospital funding is not increased to keep pace with inflation rates, population growth and an aging society, Ontario’s unions warned yesterday.
As Ontario stumbles through an economic slowdown, the provincial government should consider investing heavily in the health sector to create jobs and end patients’ waits for services, said Ken Lewenza, national president of the Canadian Auto Workers union.
“A progressive government would not only significantly increase funding to health care, but go over and beyond to eliminate wait times in multiple services in Ontario as an opportunity to create jobs and opportunities,” Lewenza told a Queen’s Park news conference.
As job losses mount and people feel the stress, more will turn to publicly funded health care for help, said Lewenza, who was joined by representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Service Employees International Union and the Ontario Federation of Labour.
“Government needs to step up to the plate,” he said.
Hospitals of all sizes are threatened during these harsh economic times and services are quietly disappearing across Ontario, say the unions, which represent more than 80,000 hospital staff.
Last year, hospitals received a funding bump of 2.4 per cent from the provincial government, while the health-care inflation rate was 3.5 per cent, said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, part of CUPE.
“We are predicting in the coming fiscal year … you will see 5,000 positions eliminated in the hospitals – 4,000 through attrition and 1,000 through involuntary layoffs,” said Hurley. “You are going to see an ongoing and aggressive downsizing of the system that we haven’t experienced for some time.”
Cuts will translate into longer wait times for the public and a “general deterioration” of the quality of services, he added, pointing to problems in Hamilton.
Hamilton Health Sciences is projecting a $25 million funding gap for 2009-2010, said Jeff Vallentin, HHS vice-president of communications. “There is no doubt there will be effects on jobs in Hamilton Health Sciences,” he said, but added they are “quite confident” job reductions will occur mostly through attrition.
In response to the unions’ estimate that 5,000 jobs are threatened, the Ontario Hospital Association said in a statement yesterday that it “has specifically chosen to not communicate publicly about specific potential funding or job loss scenarios because such forecasting is imprecise.”
Health Minister David Caplan defended his government’s record in the health-care sector. Last year, the March budget provided a 2.1 per cent increase in funding for hospitals in 2009-2010.
“Since 2003, Ontario’s hospitals have received a nearly 32 per cent increase in annual funding – an unprecedented level of investment,” said Caplan. “While we recognize the challenges of the current economic environment, the McGuinty government is committed to ensuring continued investment in our health-care sector, and took on a deficit in the current fiscal year to protect services.”
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