Coalition Announces “S.O.S.” – Save Our Services – Day of Action
Toronto – At a Queen’s Park press conference this morning, the Ontario Health Coalition, representing more than 400 organizations dedicated to protecting public health care, warned that the Ontario government’s austerity budget is causing unprecedented cuts to and privatization of hospital and health care services. The Ontario government is curtailing health spending by more than $3 billion, most of which will be shouldered by hospitals and OHIP. Ontario already funds its hospitals at the lowest rate per person of any province in Canada.
The coalition announced plans for a cross-province Day of Action on Monday March 4. Protests will be held across Ontario. The coalition has titled the event “S.O.S. -- Save Our Services” and with the Day of Action it is launching an S.O.S. campaign across Ontario.
The coalition takes issue with the Health Minister’s claims that services are being “transformed” or transferred to home care. This is simply untrue. In many cases, services being cut simply do not exist in home or community care. In other cases, services are being demonstrably privatized to for-profit corporations, despite repeated government promises to the contrary.
The coalition released a new report listing hospital deficits and service cuts across the province and a list of upcoming March 4 Day of Action events. The report and upcoming events are available at www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca .
“Thousands of surgeries are being cut from our local non-profit hospitals to be privatized to for-profit corporations, or they are simply cut. Hundreds of health professionals, nurses and hospital support staff are being cut along with the services they provide,” reports Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition.
In smaller communities, the cuts range from 10% to almost 50% of existing hospital beds slated to be closed down. In larger cities, deficits in the $20 - $40 million dollar range are being reported as hospital funding has been set far below the level required to maintain existing services. Since hospitals are not allowed to run deficits, they are forced to cut needed services to eliminate these deficits.
Joining the press conference were City Councillor Sally Freeman from Quinte West and Vicki McKenna, First Vice-President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association. The deficit at the Quinte hospitals is resulting in plans to close maternity, privatize outpatient physiotherapy, cut almost half the hospital beds in Picton and more than one in every six hospital beds at the Trenton Memorial Hospital. Cuts to registered nurses as a result of the budget deficit now number in the hundreds of positions, commensurate to a cut of thousands of hours of patient care.
"The proposed cuts by the Quinte Health Care Corporation represent the further erosion of the level of health care in the Quinte area,” said Ms. Freeman. “We are demanding a moratorium be placed on cuts to the number of beds and/or level of service provided to our community. Citizens in the Quinte area depend on these services, further cuts cannot be tolerated."
"The impact of cuts to hospital services as a result of government hospital funding reform means less care provided by fewer registered nurses,” concluded Vicki McKenna. “This is happening at a time when Ontario already has the second-lowest ratio of RNs to population in the country and will result in higher readmission rates and increasing costs.”
For more information: Ontario Health Coalition office 416-441-2502
March 4th Save Our Services
DAY OF ACTION
Campbellford – Campbellford Memorial Hospital Red Ribbon Campaign – Keep us out of the red! Contact: Wanda Tucker 705-653-5850
Chatham-Kent – More information to come. Contact: Shirley Roebuck 519-677-4474
Durham – 4:00-5:30 pm Speaker’s Corner – Have Your Say! Taking place at Lakeridge Health, Oshawa at 115 Simcoe Street (assemble near crosswalk), Contact: Charlie Courneyea 905-728- 5715
Guelph – 7:00 pm Candlelight Evening of Action at the Guelph General Hospital at 115 Delhi Street in Guelph, Contact: Magee McGuire 519-767-0084
Kingston – 11:30 am “Keep our Hospitals Public” Campaign Launch of Plebiscite at LaSalle Mews outside John Gerretsen’s office, Princess and Bagot
6:30 pm kick-off rally and info session at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library in the Wilson Room, 130 Johnson St, Contact: Ross Sutherland 613-532-7846
Listowel – 7:00 pm Info-Session at the Listowel Agricultural Hall located at 5699 Line 86, Contact: Grace Harper 519-291-6155
London – 4 - 6 pm Rally outside Health Minister Deb Matthews’ constituency office at 242 Piccadilly Street in London, Contact: Jeff Hanks 519-473-6191
Niagara – 2:30 pm Rally at the Welland Arena, 501 King Street, Contact: Sue Hotte 905-932-1646
Ottawa - 4–6 pm Rally at the Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus 1053 Carling Ave. Contact: Marlene Rivier 613-222-8392
Perth/Smiths Falls – 12:00 pm Day of Action at the PSFDH, Smiths Falls site, Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org
Peterborough – 11:00 am media conference, Contact: Roy Brady 705-745-2446
Petrolia – 12:00 pm Rally in Support of the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital to take place at the hospital, 450 Blanche Street, Contact: Helen Havlik 519-882-0357
Quinte West/Picton – 12:00 pm Rally at the Belleville General Hospital located 265 Dundas Street East, Contact: Michael McMahon 613-968-5550
St. Marys – 5:00 pm Rally at the St. Marys Memorial Hospital located 267 Queen West, Contact: Gayle Beattie519-284-8072
Sudbury – More information to come. Contact Anne Marie MacInnis 705-698-7655
Thunder Bay – Rally at the former Interim Long-Term Care Centre located at 445 James St South, Time TBA. Contact: Jules Tupker 807-629-6219
Toronto – 11:00 am on Saturday March 2 – Rally with visuals on hospital row (University Ave. between Gerrard St W and Elm St), Contact: Nathalie Sheppard 647-231-5102
Windsor – 4-5 pm Rally in front of Windsor Regional Hospital Metropolitan Campus (Tecumseh Road), Contact: Katha Fortier 519-259-8100