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Statement by OPSEU President Thomas on health agency cuts

Statement by OPSEU President Thomas on health agency cuts

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
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Hundreds of employees at Ontario’s LHINs and other health care agencies were notified today that they’re losing their jobs. That’s hundreds of lives and families affected because of another promise betrayed.

Ford promised no job losses, but it’s becoming clearer by the day that he never had a real plan. He’s running a government by chaos and the people of Ontario are paying the price. Ford won based on lofty promises to reign in the deficit without any consequence for frontline jobs and services – he’s now proven himself incompetent on both ends.

No one on either side of the political spectrum is happy with Ford’s performance. He was elected on a back-of-napkin plan and it’s showing.

Just this week, nearly 300 autism service workers at Erin Oaks were shown the door. Today, hundreds more are on the chopping block. Ford’s bringing chaos and disorganization to health care and real people are getting hurt.

At OPSEU, we proudly represent more than 1300 members working across five of Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). They work as care coordinators, helping patients and their families to navigate the health care system and arranging for care based on patient need, in therapy and nursing and as IT, office and clerical, and strategic support staff, who keep the entire ship running smoothly.

Every single one of these jobs matters. These workers are all part of an interconnected team that provides high-quality, patient-centred care; they’re not just numbers or potential “efficiencies” to be cut.

But there is growing concern that today’s cuts are just the beginning. To-date, the LHINs have still not received their home and community care budgets for 2019, and many fear that deep cuts to direct patient care are coming.

The mess Ford made with funding for municipalities is an example of what can happen when cuts come unexpectedly.

While today’s announcement does include cuts in the ranks of management, we must demand that any money saved is redirected directly into frontline care. If Ford is truly committed to reducing costs, he’d get rid of all the costly contracts he’s doled out by hiring his buddies, like alcohol privatizer Ken Hughes and health privatization czar Ruebin Devlin.

It’s time to clean up the mess at Queen’s Park and put people’s priorities first, by investing in health care, not cutting it. 

It’s time to stop behaving like a delusional dictator, and focus on finding solutions that work by listening to frontline workers and patients.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU President