Patients, Concerned Citizens and Workers Rally Outside SSM Pre-Budget Hearings to Stop Devastating Hospital Cuts, Privatization


As MPPs from all three political parties from the Ontario Legislature traveled to Sault Ste. Marie for pre-budget hearings today, they were met with protests by patients, concerned residents and health care workers. The message was clear: stop the devastating cuts to – and privatization of – our local hospital services. The Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs has heard from community advocates who have made submissions to budget hearings for almost a decade warning that the cuts are harming patients. But the government is refusing to listen. This year, local health coalitions across Ontario are staging protests outside the hearings to stop the cuts, in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Labour. “Nine consecutive years of real-dollar cuts have plunged Ontario into the bottom of the country in hospital funding. Patients are being left on stretchers in hallways, surgeries are being cancelled and vital health services are being privatized, subject to user fees, or moved out of town,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “It is beyond time that these devastating hospital cuts and the privatization of hospital services be stopped. The Ontario government must restore our public hospital funding to at least the average of all the other provinces in Canada.” Sault Ste. Marie alone has faced massive cuts. Departments all across the hospital have experienced budget slashing, including operating rooms, ICU, oncology, surgery, hemodialysis, infection control, patient care coordination, nursing and personal support. More than 59,000 hours per year of nursing and direct patient care have been cut and in 2015, 56 beds were slated for closure. “Our hospital is packed full, they are running beyond full capacity yet more cuts are being anticipated for the upcoming year,” said Margo Dale, chair of the Sault and Area Health Coalition. “The patients are the ones that pay the price when staff and services are slashed. Quite simply, these austerity measures are meant to cut costs, with absolutely no regard for patient needs. It is inevitable that the cuts will harm patients and reduce patient care.” “Here in Sault Ste. Marie, we are seeing the effects of austerity in every community. Hospital cuts, hydro privatization, mounting student debt, precarious jobs and Canada’s lowest social program funding are taking their toll in every neighbourhood,” said Ahmad Gaied, Executive Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “Ontarians are calling on the Wynne Government to abandon her austerity agenda and lay out a plan for restoring public services, growing our economy, expanding Ontario’s revenue base and lifting standards for everyone. The next Ontario budget shouldn’t be constrained by government cuts, it should create an Ontario in which everyone prospers.” [author ]Ontario Federation of Labour Ontario Health Coalition [/author]


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