June 20, 2008

OPSEU, CUPE, SEIU: Unions Warn of More Privatization With Appointment of New Health Minister

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 20, 2008) - Responding to today's appointment of David Caplan as Minister of Health, three of Ontario's largest health care unions are warning that they will fight any attempts by the new minister to privatize health care services.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) say the "minister of privatization" has just become the new minister of health and vow to draw a line in the sand to defend publicly funded and delivered health care.

"We'll take this fight to the people of Ontario should Caplan carry his privatization ideology further into the most cherished of our social programs," said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan.

As Infrastructure Minister, Caplan engineered the largest privatization of public hospitals in the province's history, the results proving disastrous. The Brampton P3 hospital allowed the private sector to plunder $500 million in profits and deliver fewer hospital beds than promised. More than 30 Ontario hospitals are scheduled to be built under the scheme.

"Premier McGuinty specifically promised SEIU that his government would build a positive rewarding and stable working environment for home care workers. The Premier must instruct the new minister of health to end competitive bidding in the home care sector once and for all. The former minister recognized that there needs to be a stronger relationship that lasts longer between the home care client and caregiver," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1.

"At a time when we need a defender of publicly-provided health care, Premier McGuinty has let loose the fox in the chicken compound," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU. "Privatization has never worked in Ontario. It has driven up costs while driving down quality of services. The privately-funded and operated hospitals Caplan is already responsible for will be a drain on health care for a generation."

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