1500 rally in Hamilton to increase healthcare funding

unnamedBy Brad Walchuk

Roughly 1500 healthcare workers, allies, and community members rallied outside of the Hamilton General Hospital at noon on February 6. The rally is part of an Ontario-wide campaign by the Canadian Union of Public Employee (Ontario Division) and its component OCHU (Ontario Council of Hospital Unions) to increase the funding for hospitals and long-term care by roughly five percent in 2017 and a broader commitment of on-going stable funding increases linked to inflation.

The Hamilton rally comes on the heels of a poll conducted on behalf of CUPE and released on January 30, which found that 93.5 percent of the 855 respondents indicated that they would support a real funding increase of at least five per cent for hospitals. When asked whether they support a similar funding increase for Hamilton area long-term care homes, 89.1 percent said, “yes”.

The poll and rally were necessitated by the chronic underfunding of Ontario’s hospital and long-term care sectors at the hands on the Liberal government. Research from CUPE has found that of the provinces, Ontario spends the least amount of money – roughly 25% less than other provinces – on both its long-term care facilities and hospitals. CUPE also claims that “Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office estimates hospitals need about a 5.3% annual increase to meet their basic costs, driven higher than inflation by drugs and medical technologies.” A demand for a funding increase along these lines was a central component of the rally and the broader campaign.

The Hamilton rally featured CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, OCHU President Michael Hurley, and local representatives from CUPE Locals 786 and 7800 in Hamilton, along with members of Unifor, USW and its local 1005, OPSEU, and the Ontario Nurses Association. Future rallies are planned in Kenora on April 26, in Sudbury on June 15 and in Ottawa October 27, 2017.

For more information: http://www.ochu.on.ca/

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