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OPSEU/SEFPO President calls new COVID-focused Vaughan Hospital ‘a welcome first step’ in strengthening Ontario’s health care system

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is commending the Ford government for strengthening Ontario’s health care system by opening the COVID-focused Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital but says following up with much more investment is vital.

Thomas has been calling on the government to build more hospitals and train and hire more front-line professionals to address capacity issues.  He says the opening of this new hospital is a welcome first step after three decades of health care cuts.

“I’m happy to see the government is listening to its front-line workers who have been giving warnings for more than thirty years,” said Thomas.  “Since the early 90s, every political party has savagely attacked our health care system by closing and merging hospitals, leaving front-line workers scrambling to make sure Ontarians are taken care of.”

The newly built Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, run by Mackenzie Health, is opening its doors in February. It will be temporarily dedicated to providing acute and critical care to COVID-19 patients and will add 185 beds to the currently over-stretched health care system. It is one of the 30+ hospitals that the Ford government has committed to build over the next decade.

Thomas says that while it’s encouraging to see this government is learning some tough lessons from this pandemic, much more investment is needed in both health care infrastructure and training more staff.

“This pandemic has shown the consequences of three decades of neglecting the health care needs of this province,” said Thomas. “Promises of funding years down the road isn’t enough, the next budget must ensure we start seeing shovels in the ground now and students in the classroom. It should be priority one for Finance Minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy.”

“The need for training more health care workers is something the government must jump on now and Ontario has the resources to meet that challenge,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida.

“Our front-line workers are the driving force of our health care system and investment in people must go hand in hand with investment in infrastructure,” said Almeida. “More financial incentives must be available to encourage skilled workers to join this field, and training should be easily accessible. Our community colleges are uniquely-positioned and well-equipped to train the front-line heroes of the future. I urge the government to work with the colleges and OPSEU/SEFPO to meet the labour demand.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931