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Unions council predicts more than 700 hospital job cuts, Ottawa Sun, July 28, 2018

Posted: July 28, 2018


Unions council predicts more than 700 hospital job cuts

Ottawa Sun
Sat Jul 28 2018
Byline: Joanne Laucius 

Between 748 and 1,634 hospital jobs could be cut in Ottawa if Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government fulfils its campaign promises, according to projections by the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

According to calculations by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, which represents 35,000 provincial health-care workers ranging from nurses to maintenance staff, Ottawa also faces losing between 84 and 184 permanent hospital beds, as well as 55 flu seasonal beds funded in the 2018 budget.

The calculations are based on numbers dropped by Premier Doug Ford during the election about achieving 4% savings through efficiencies. Ford also promised no jobs would be lost.

The lower end of the projections is based on a 4% cut. But the Tories also promised they would balance the budget and slash taxes, which suggests a cut of 8.74% to program spending, said council president Michael Hurley, who is delivering similar reports in 30 towns and cities across the province.

“There is no way to make those numbers without very, very significant cuts to health care,” Hurley said.

The Sun reached out to the Health Ministry and the health minister’s office for comment but did not receive a response as of late Friday.

There is already a gap in overall health-care funding between Ontario and the rest of Canada, Hurley said. Per capita hospital funding is more than 28% higher in the rest of Canada, a difference of $400 a year per person.

Ontario spends $5,360 per person compared to a national average of $5,992, he said.

“Ontario already provides the least health-care funding per person of any province. The evidence is already overwhelming that the cuts have already gone too far,” he said. “There is non-stop pressure to move patients out to make room for new patients. That’s why you have stretchers in the hallways.”

Ford’s explanations for how he plans to achieve his goals during the election were vague, and there has been no update about how the new provincial government plans to implement the savings.

Many hospitals are already at full capacity and more cuts will make the “hallway medicine” Ford decried during his campaign worse, said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, which represents 400 organizations ranging from patient groups to unions and professional organizations.

Mehra believes the council’s projections on cuts to jobs and hospital beds are a conservative estimate.

“The question is how you can make massive cuts, and on the other hand offer no clarity for how it will be paid for,” she said.

Earlier this week, a report from the province’s financial accountability officer Peter Weltman suggested savings in health care will be hard to find because the labour market is so competitive.

“Given Ontario’s tight labour markets, public sector employers will likely need to continue offering higher wages to compete for available workers,” the report said.

© 2018 Sun Media Corporation. All rights reserved

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