Rally de­cries hospi­tal, nurs­ing home cuts

Pa­tients are suf­fer­ing, union lead­ers say

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec CARMELA FRAGOMENI The Hamil­ton Spec­ta­tor

Hun­dreds of hospi­tal and nurs­ing home work­ers from Hamil­ton and across On­tario ral­lied out­side the Gen­eral on Mon­day, call­ing for ad­e­quate pro­vin­cial fund­ing for pa­tient care and safe work­places.

About 1,000 staff gath­ered on the hospi­tal grounds be­side Vic­to­ria Av­enue to hear their union lead­ers ham­mer home a mes­sage that pa­tients are suf­fer­ing more and work­ers are fac­ing in­creas­ing vi­o­lence and burnout.

The rally is the sec­ond of sev­eral planned across On­tario through to the fall.

“The peo­ple of this com­mu­nity rely on us ev­ery day,” said CUPE On­tario pres­i­dent Fred Hahn. “All are suf­fer­ing from the cuts of this Lib­eral gov­ern­ment. We’re here to say enough is enough.”

He said in Canada, health care is a hu­man right; On­tario’s gov­ern­ment must step up its fund­ing.

“We stand to­gether to de­fend our health-care sys­tem,” he said.

Lou Ian­none, at Joseph Brant Hospi­tal, said pa­tients are be­ing pushed out of hos­pi­tals be­fore they are well enough to go home — and those need­ing to go to a nurs­ing home can’t find a bed.

“The best ad­vo­cacy we can do for our pa­tients and res­i­dents is to push hard for the re­sources to care for them prop­erly.”

Adding to the prob­lem is that “all of us have seen our work go through the roof. Peo­ple are laid off and are not be­ing re­placed. This is all im­pact­ing on pa­tient care,” she said.

Domenic Di Pasquale, CUPE 786 pres­i­dent at St. Joseph’s Health­care, men­tioned the wage freeze lift for hospi­tal ex­ec­u­tives and said “God help them” if money that should be go­ing into hos­pi­tals goes into ex­ec­u­tive pock­ets.

CUPE 1404 pres­i­dent Heather Neiser, with St. Joseph’s Villa, said that with cuts to hos­pi­tals, nurs­ing homes are be­ing turned into com­plex con­tin­u­ing-care hos­pi­tals without ad­di­tional staffing or proper fund­ing.

“We have an ag­ing and grow­ing pop­u­la­tion that needs more care than we are able to pro­vide.”

She also talked of the dan­gers of tak­ing away psy­chotic med­i­ca­tion from nurs­ing home res­i­dents who need it. The med­i­ca­tion re­duces vi­o­lence from de­men­tia pa­tients and yet it is of­ten taken away, which re­sults in “hor­rific as­saults of res­i­dents on res­i­dents, or even deaths.”

But gov­ern­ment has not ad­dressed this wors­en­ing is­sue, she added.

“On­tario has the fewest longterm care beds for its pop­u­la­tion, than any prov­ince in Canada or any coun­try in the Western world. Shame on us,” she said. “This is the re­sult of eight years of bud­get cuts from the On­tario gov­ern­ment.”

She said the emo­tional, phys­i­cal and med­i­cal needs of the res­i­dents, and their de­men­tia and vi­o­lence to­ward med­i­cal work­ers, have all in­creased in the last 10 years.

Michael Hurley, pres­i­dent of the On­tario Coun­cil of Hospi­tal Unions, said, “We’re here to­day to say we’re break­ing phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally, try­ing to de­liver care …”

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

About 1,000 CUPE union mem­bers from across On­tario ral­lied at the Hamil­ton Gen­eral Hospi­tal over the noon hour Mon­day. Mem­bers are de­mand­ing a stop to pro­vin­cial cuts to hospi­tal and long-term care fa­cil­i­ties.

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