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Thomas vows ‘fight for Kingston’s health care’ as hospital merger announced

Kingston – The President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says his union is already putting plans in place to “fight for Kingston’s health care” as Kingston General and Hotel Dieu Hospitals prepare to merge.

“OPSEU members have been involved in dozens of mergers, and in every case I’ve seen, the real motive behind the merger is cost-cutting,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We are putting KGH and Hotel Dieu on notice that we will not accept any outcome that compromises health care for the people of Kingston.”

Thomas, a lifetime Kingston resident, said yesterday’s surprise announcement did not bode well for the public consultation the hospitals are planning.

“At the management level, talks about merger must have been going on for months, and probably longer,” he said. “Yet at no point did they think to notify frontline staff, let alone involve them in the discussions. 

“What this tells me is that all residents of our city are going to have to fight to be heard,” he said. “We’ll work hard to make sure they are.”

Thomas said the union would not accept any cuts to frontline health care as a result of the merger.

“If there are ways to manage the hospitals more effectively, and save money, that’s good, but we will be insisting that any money saved go right back into frontline services for the people of Kingston,” he said. “The Liberal government at Queen’s Park has been cutting hospitals since the last recession, and it has to stop now.”

OPSEU is a leading health care union in Ontario, representing over 45,000 frontline staff in hospitals and community settings. The union represents a wide range of staff at both KGH and Hotel Dieu.

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