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Wednesday, 09 March 2016 00:00

Budget increases are decreases for hospitals says Coalition

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            The Feb. 25 Ontario budget looks like it was written for the benefit of Bay Street, not for the people of Ontario, says Fred Hahn, president of CUPE, Ontario's largest union with more than 250,000 members in fields like social services, health care and education.

            This budget comes on the heels of

a succession of austerity budgets that CUPE says have left Ontario with the lowest per-capita program spending in Canada and serious cuts to front-line public services such as health care, schools, universities and social services in every community across the province.

            And although the budget announced a $60 million globa increase for hospital budgets for the upcoming year—the first increase in five years, it’s still a “real-dollar” decrease when measured against a projected inflation rate of two percent for 2016, says the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC).

            It’s nowhere near enough to stop the erosion of patient care and services across Ontario, says the OHC, which represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of local health coalitions and individual members.

            This will be the ninth year in a row that hospitals face “real-dollar” cuts—the longest stretch of hospital cuts in Ontario history—the OHC says.

            Across the province, small-town and rural hospitals are being decimated. Many mid-sized towns like Lindsay are facing new rounds of cuts. Ontario has “the fewest hospital beds and least staff per patient in the country,” says Sara Labelle, an OHC board member.

            With fewer hospital beds and services, long-term care homes have taken a heavier load of more complex residents. The two-per-cent increase announced for long-term care is not enough to improve care levels.

             OHC member groups includes: seniors’ groups; patients’ organizations; unions; nurses and health professionals’ organizations; physicians and physician organizations that support the public health system; non-profit community agencies; student groups; ethnic and cultural organizations; residents’ and family councils; retirees; poverty and equality-seeking groups; women’s organizations, and others.

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