Union leaders representing more than 200,000 nurses, health professionals and care workers demand public consultation on Ford government’s omnibus health care bill

Don Mills, Ontario, CANADA

TORONTO, March 07, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Union leaders held a press conference today at the Ontario Legislature calling on the Ford government to hold public consultations across Ontario on its sweeping health care restructuring law.

Bill 74 is the Ford government’s omnibus health care legislation in which the government has given itself and its appointees in its new “super agency” wide-reaching new powers to force unprecedented health care restructuring without any public consultation, including mergers, closures and privatization of hospitals, long-term care, home care, diagnostic services, clinics, community care, mental health and addictions services, community health centres, and others.

The legislation was only brought to public awareness several weeks ago through a document leaked to the media by the NDP after they received the legislation and internal documents from whistleblower(s) in the civil service.

The legislation was introduced in the legislature on February 26. The Ford government used its majority to push the new law through first reading last week. It is already in second reading. The government has not committed to any public hearings on Bill 74. Unions have joined community groups and patient advocates in calling for province-wide public hearings and real public consultation.

“How can the government claim it is creating health care ‘teams’ when the organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members of that ‘team’ have never been consulted?” queried Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE representing more than 35,000 hospital and long-term care nurses and support staff. “Equally importantly, the public has never been consulted. Communities stand to lose virtually all remaining local control of their health care services, yet the government is pushing their new law through the legislature with reckless speed. Doug Ford must follow proper democratic process and hold public hearings across Ontario to understand the unique needs of communities in Ontario.”

“This legislation covers 1,800 health care service providers, and, according to the Ford government’s own statements, 15 million patients, almost all of whom have never been given any say about these unprecedented health care restructuring plans,” noted Sara Labelle, Chair of the Hospital Professionals Division of OPSEU, a union representing more than 50,000 health care professionals, care workers and support staff. “We are deeply opposed to the leaked secret plans and for-profit privatization of our laboratories, air ambulance, vital patient support services and others for which the Ford government has no mandate whatsoever. We are joining forces to insist in the strongest possible terms that this government slow down and consult with the people of Ontario.”

“We are putting the Premier on notice – publicly funded and delivered health care must benefit the people of this province, not the pocketbooks of businesses that have made friends with the PC party,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “The labour movement will fight for the people of Ontario’s right to quality public health care services that Ontarians need when they are sick, and quality jobs for the workers in the health care sector. Changing the way Ontario delivers health care without a debate is dishonest and ignores the people the PCs claim to represent.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.ofl.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For further information, please contact:

Michael Hurley
President OCHU/CUPE
(416) 884-0770

Sara Labelle,
2nd Vice President, OPSEU
(905) 914-4037

Meagan Perry,
Director of Communications
Ontario Federation of Labour
mperry@ofl.ca l 416-894-3456