THUNDER BAY – OPINION – The 4,600 patients in Ottawa advised to get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV bear testimony to the importance of public ownership and accountability in ensuring patient safety.
“A privatized model of health care is risky for all of us; it risks patient safety and reinforces a precarious, low-wage employment, model for health care workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The private for-profit system fails to prioritize patient care, it puts patient safety at risk and reinforces a precarious, low-wage employment model for health care workers.”
Like the Main Street Family Medical Centre, a clinic in Ottawa, the Port Arthur Health Centre in Thunder Bay is a privately owned entity. It is here that 65 striking workers have been on strike since April 9, 2018. Meanwhile, in another strike in Ontario, 30 OPSEU workers at the Owen Sound Health Clinic are on the picket line, also protesting the low wages and unstable working conditions that a profit-driven framework supports.
“The for-profit clinic model is always looking at the bottom line,” said Lori Salmi, the Unit Chairperson for the Unifor Local 229 members on strike at the Port Arthur Health Centre. “This creates an environment where they are often willing to cut corners and where patients’ health can be harmed rather helped as we are seeing in Ottawa.”
Earlier this week, the 65 women on strike at the Centre marked their 100 days on the picket line. Public sentiment in Thunder Bay and beyond remains supportive of their fight for job security and a livable wage, especially as the employer continues to refuse even negotiate. For more information on the Local 229 strike at Port Arthur Health Centre please visit unifor.org/portarthurhealthstrike.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
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