Toronto — The Ford government’s flirtation with bringing more privatization into health care as a way to solve the staffing crisis is foolish and dangerous, OPSEU/SEFPO’s leaders said Thursday.
Health Minister Sylvia Jones has refused to rule out privatization as a solution to resolve the crippling staff crisis in hospitals that has forced the temporary closure of ERs in recent weeks.
OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick says Ontario voters did not give the Ford Conservatives a mandate to start privatizing the province’s public health care system.
“Our members are clear: they want to provide the best care possible to Ontarians,” said Hornick. “The government is not providing them with the supports and resources they need to do this. Disguising privatization as innovation does not respect or value the expertise and dedication of our members.”
Sara Labelle, the chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Hospital Professionals Division, pointed out that the union raised the alarm about staffing levels in hospitals and health care generally months ago.
“The crisis that the Conservatives keep saying isn’t a crisis didn’t just pop out of thin air yesterday and it won’t be solved tomorrow,” said Labelle. “We need to focus all our resources on solving the staffing shortages in the public system, not create a parallel private system that will poach health professionals from public facilities.”
Labelle says there are staffing shortages in virtually every job classification in Ontario’s hospitals, and retention and recruitment has been made worse by the government’s Bill 124.
She pointed out that it takes time to train qualified hospital and health care professionals and a comprehensive plan is needed to prepare a pool of staff to shore up the ailing health care system.
Labelle also pointed out that some privatization of diagnostic testing and rehabilitation has been a flop, where testing authorized under OHIP must compete with sports clinics for professional sports franchises in the priority queue.
“Privatization has never worked whenever it has been tried and there is zero gain,” said Labelle. “We need to focus on properly staffing our hospitals and health care facilities, not play around with hidden schemes to line the pockets of Conservative friendly for-profit companies that lack expertise.”
For more information: JP Hornick, 416-806-9526; Sara Labelle, 905-914-4037