HAMILTON, ON – A large group of hospital staff including nurses, personal support workers and lab technologists rallied today at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton against the Ford government’s plan to contract out hospital services to private, for-profit clinics.
In response to Bill 60, the recently passed legislation that farms out surgeries and diagnostic procedures to private clinics, hospital staff at St. Joseph’s Healthcare represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) have been mobilizing to save public health care.
On Monday, after a series of passionate speeches by frontline workers and their provincial leaders, a group of hospital staff marched to the office of Elizabeth Buller, the CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System, to present a petition calling on her to resist the government’s plan and take a stand against privatization. More than 2,400 workers, representing a majority of the unionized staff at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, signed the petition.
Hospital workers say that funnelling public tax dollars into investor-led clinics will drain resources away from public hospitals including Hamilton’s, further weakening a sector plagued by chronic underfunding and understaffing.
Last week, Queen’s Park Today reported that several corporations are lobbying the Ford government for surgical contracts. The lobbyists include Doug Ford’s former policy director and two former hospital CEOs.
The healthcare workers are reiterating their demand for investments in higher staffing levels, and a meaningful recruitment and retention strategy, to improve patient care and help clear the surgical backlog that Ford is using as an excuse for privatization.
This is the second in a series of such rallies being organized by a coalition of five unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare) and Unifor.
Since the provincial government’s push to privatize hospital services and bring in investor-led clinics was made public, members of ONA, CUPE, OPSEU/SEFPO, SEIU Healthcare and Unifor have all launched campaigns at community hospitals.