Increased reliance on private clinics will worsen, not relieve, the health care staffing crisis: OPSEU/SEFPO

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Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) is condemning the Ford government’s decision to increase investment in private clinics – also called Independent Health Facilities (IHFs) – over public hospitals, and says the move will worsen the already dire health care crisis.

OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick emphasized that public health care staffing is the critical issue that must be addressed to resolve Ontario’s surgical backlogs; without the frontline staff to perform surgeries, the waitlist will continue to increase.

“This move will undoubtedly hurt the health care system and will have life-threatening implications for access to care,” said Hornick. “Every Ontarian has access to care at public hospitals, regardless of income status, housing status, or otherwise. Fixing the surgical backlogs starts with investing in public hospitals and the workers who staff them – not in pulling funding away from the public health care system and pursuing costly legal battles to stifle health care workers’ wages.”

In late December, the Ford government appealed the Ontario Supreme Court decision striking down Bill 124, which has suppressed public sector workers’ wages since 2019 and contributed to health care staff leaving frontline positions.

“This government’s rhetoric that Ontarians have nothing to worry about because they can keep using their OHIP card is nothing but propaganda,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell. “They have made a concerted effort to weaken Ontario’s public health care system in order to sell it off, and no one will benefit from this other than the private corporations they’re handing out contracts to.”

Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO Hospital Professionals Division and laboratory technologist, Sara Labelle, expressed disappointment at the government’s mishandling of the health care crisis, stating that the surgical backlog cannot be resolved without the frontline staff to operate the surgeries. Further, the expansion of contracts with IHFs will only encourage poaching of public health care staff, causing additional strain on public hospitals.

“The root cause of the problems we are facing in health care is staffing – there simply aren’t enough health care staff in Ontario to perform the surgeries; shoving money into private hands won’t solve that,” said Labelle. “The longer this government delays addressing the staffing crisis, the worse the situation will get. It’s time to fund public hospitals properly, pay staff fairly to attract workers and reduce attrition, and sit down with frontline workers and our unions to solve this crisis together.”

For more information:

Sara Labelle, OPSEU/SEFPO Hospital Professionals Division Chair, 905-914-4037
opseucommunications@opseu.org

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