Ford’s health care overhaul will damage system: OPSEU

“What we actually need is an immediate increase in health care funding to meet the needs of population growth, aging and inflation." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto (29 Jan. 2019) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), is raising a red flag on the Ford government’s move to scrap Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN).

Ontario Conservatives ramming through health care reorganization

It’s expected the government will set up a single oversight body and Thomas says the result will be more privatization.

“Ford has thrown due process out the window,” said Thomas. “He’s doing a system overhaul without any consultation. When will he realize he must start talking to unions like OPSEU/NUPGE that represent frontline workers? We have the solutions on how to provide first-class health care in Ontario.”

Thomas says although OPSEU/NUPGE has never been satisfied that the LHINs were accountable, Ford’s restructuring will be likely more of the same.

“LHINs are run by government appointments, and are not properly accountable to the people of Ontario,” said Thomas. “However, what Ford has proven again and again, is that he will simply replace friends of Liberals with his own set of cronies,” said Thomas.

Private clinics take the most profitable, easiest cases 

Private clinics leave the complex, labour-intensive work to the hospitals. Instead, they focus on the profitable high-volume diagnostic testing work and spend less money on staffing. The result is an even bigger strain on the public system, as it deals with increasingly complex cases and fewer resources.

“Private clinics skim the cream off the system,” explained Sara Labelle, Chair of OPSEU’s Hospital Professionals Division. “They don’t have the same level of oversight or checks and balances. What you get is corruption and mismanagement such as over-ordering on high cost items so they can line their pockets.”

Privatization puts strain on health professionals

Parallel private and public health care systems compete for a limited pool of health professionals. Private clinics draw highly trained professionals out of the public system with promises of inflated income.

Meanwhile, health care professionals in the public system are dealing with high levels of burnout following years of underfunding.

“What we actually need is an immediate increase in health care funding to meet the needs of population growth, aging and inflation. Ford is rushing to implement his agenda without bothering to take a look around at what he’s destroying in the process,” said Thomas.

OPSEU/NUPGE represents 25,000 allied health professionals at 85 hospitals across Ontario.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE