Medical laboratory workers from Deep River and District Hospital protested plans yesterday to outsource sample testing, a move that will drive up costs and cause delays in patient treatment.
“The message to local residents at our rally today was clear. This is a bad move that guarantees only one winner: the private, for-profit company LifeLabs which gets the work our members have delivered efficiently and cost-effectively,” said Richard Meagher, president of Local 475 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) which represents the affected lab workers.
Several Deep River and District Hospital workers and supporters picketed outside the Valu Mart in Deep River on Wednesday where they took their message against outsourcing directly to the public. The plan will come into effect Feb. 9, unless a reversal is made beforehand.
Under the new scheme, patients will continue to have their blood and other specimens drawn at Deep River and District Hospital but those samples will now be sent outside the community for testing at a central LifeLabs laboratory. Currently, the samples are tested on site at the hospital.
OPSEU and local health and medical providers have drawn attention to the fact that the move will actually increase costs to the province at the same time that it is imposing an austerity agenda on public services.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the decision by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to outsource the lab work demonstrates the province has its priorities confused.
“We know there is a surplus capacity for this work at the Deep River hospital,” said Thomas. “But in typical fashion the provincial government is force-feeding a so-called ‘remedy’ on local doctors and patients which puts them at a disadvantage all the while rewarding their pals in the private sector.
“This is just another example of what the Auditor General pointed out in her recent report. Too many tax dollars are being stuffed in the pockets of the private sector when the evidence shows that public service workers can achieve the same results cheaper and fairer.”
President, OPSEU Local 475
Warren (Smokey) Thomas