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“Fix the health care crisis now”: OPSEU/SEFPO’s response to the Fall Economic Update

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For Immediate Release

TORONTO – Following the Ford government’s Fall Economic Update which provided no new funding for a health care system falling apart at the seams, OPSEU/SEFPO leaders had a message for Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy: “Do your job. Fix the health care crisis now.”

“The Ford government sat on a two billion dollar surplus while our emergency rooms are shutting down, health care workers are burning out and leaving their jobs, and pediatric units are overflowing,” said JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President. “Instead of spending that surplus on the emergency in health care, they spent it on ‘debt reduction’. It’s completely irresponsible.”

The government continues to withhold billions in unspent contingency funds in case of “challenging times ahead” – a weak excuse by Bethlenfalvy.

“Those challenging times are right now,” said Laurie Nancekivell, First Vice-President/Treasurer of OPSEU/SEFPO. “The emergency is right now in our health care system especially, but also in all public services including education and social services. Underfunding and understaffing leads to workers burning out or quitting – which leads to even more understaffing. It’s a vicious cycle we’ve seen in every sector.”

Both Hornick and Nancekivell pointed to the government’s wage cut legislation, Bill 124, as a key factor causing staffing crises throughout the health care system and all public services.

“The current staffing crisis in our health care system has been manufactured by the Ford government,” said Hornick. “Bill 124 is unconstitutional legislation that cut health care workers’ wages for three years, throughout a pandemic where they faced huge health risks, had their vacation time cancelled, and worked short-staffed through constant long hours and double-shifts. It’s just not sustainable.”

Nancekivell also pointed to the inadequate provisions for people living in poverty. “Our members work with people who receive ODSP. People just can’t survive on the current ODSP and OW rates. This government has refused to give people who either can’t work, or can’t find work, enough income to survive – especially during this time of high inflation. It’s shameful.”

Hornick had a final message for Ford and Bethlenfalvy: “Right now, during a health care emergency and an inflation crisis you have one job: fix it. Pay workers fair wages and help the most vulnerable people in our province afford to live. Do your job.”

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Media contact:

JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President – 416-806-9526
OPSEUcommunications@opseu.org

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