THUNDER BAY – Two hundred representatives from sixty-five Ontario hospital corporations represented by CUPE are meeting in Thunder Bay from Monday through Wednesday. On their agenda is the plan announced in the Throne Speech to set prices for hospital clinical services and tender those services to the lowest bidder.
Ontario Council of Hospital Unions president Michael Hurley will tell delegates “This scheme, when introduced in Britain, encouraged a private hospital system to flourish. After it was introduced in the United Kingdom, there followed widespread closures of small community hospitals, which could not compete to deliver services. And public hospitals went bankrupt as they lost bids to deliver clinical services.”
“The Liberal government reassures the public that privatization of clinical services will not result from their plan, as happened in Britain, but last week the British Columbia Minister of Health, when introducing an identical proposal, said that the private sector will deliver 20% of the clinical services in this new market” Hurley will argue. “After the next provincial election the government will open up hospital services in Ontario to private sector competition”.
“Northern, rural and small community hospitals are seriously threatened by this plan” Hurley will warn OCHU delegates. “Clinical services will be sucked out of small town Ontario and moved to large urban centres. Communities will lose their hospitals on a scale we have not seen since the 1990’s.”
“There is no question that our members will work with their communities to defend their hospitals and our Medicare system from privatization. This campaign will ramp up as we approach the 2011 election” Hurley will conclude.