Thousands of frontline hospital workers rallied on Tuesday, May 2 in Kingston to speak out against the Ford government’s plan to privatize hospital services. The workers, represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO), the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA), and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), include medical laboratory technologists, respiratory therapists, registered nurses, registered practical nurses, health care aides, cleaners, clerical staff and many more.
At Tuesday’s rally, a large petition with signatures from a large majority of Kingston hospital workers was unveiled, showcasing the commitment of the healthcare workers to fight against healthcare privatization. The petition calls on Kingston Health Sciences Centre CEO, Dr. David Pichora, to stop permitting Kingston hospital services to be privatized, pay healthcare workers decent wages, and enact immediate solutions to the staffing crisis. Local Presidents from OPSEU/SEFPO, ONA and CUPE will be meeting with Dr. Pichora on the afternoon of May 2, shortly after the rally.
For 100 years, Ontario has built a system of local public hospitals that operate on a non-profit basis, in the public interest; however, the Ford government is steam-rolling ahead with Bill 60 to tear that down by opening three new private for-profit day hospitals, allowing the unlimited expansion of other for-profit clinics and shunting tens of millions in public funding to private clinics and hospitals.
Since the provincial government’s push to privatize hospital services and bring in American-style health care was made public, tens of thousands of hospital workers who are members of OPSEU/SEFPO, CUPE, ONA, SEIU Healthcare, and Unifor began organized campaigns at community hospitals to fight against the plan. The workers warn that the Conservative government’s plan would devastate the services in Ontario’s public hospitals, including Kingston’s, and threaten public health care.
The rally event in Kingston on Tuesday marks the first of several visible actions – by front-line hospital staff in communities across the province – coming over the next few months.