Updates

Emergency Town Hall Meetings, Upcoming Rallies & More Upcoming Events

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Ontario Health Coalition

Upcoming Meetings and Events

HOSPITAL EMERGENCY Online Town Hall Meetings

Our public hospitals are in an unprecedented crisis. The Ford government has done substantially nothing to help them. Instead they have funnelled millions into for-profit corporations to privatize our public hospital services.

Almost 100 Emergency Departments have had closures across Ontario. If the Ford government continues to ignore & downplay the staffing crisis -- and use the crisis as an excuse to privatize - our community hospitals are at grave risk.

All across Ontario people have banded together for a century or more to build up our local public hospitals. We have volunteered, fundraised and donated from our pay cheques because these are vital services for our communities.  The Ford government's plan would dismantle our local public hospitals, taking the profitable services out to for-profit corporations, robbing them of desperately needed staff and funding.

We must force the Ford government to address the crisis and take urgent action to support our local PUBLIC hospitals. We CAN do this, but everyone needs to help to make it happen.

Thunder Bay

Monday February 13 at 7 p.m. 

Register for the town hall here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAlcuivqj8qHtzuhn9jR2D_Asdh69g6QvpO

Chatham-Kent

Wednesday, February 15 at 7 p.m.

Register for the town hall here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwodeiprTksHdLOVMuIOV5yZF2x7Wy6c8lO

London

Thursday, February 16 at 7 p.m.

Register for the town hall here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUlcOmvpjsrG9d-tLoHuuBt95tLGdvVlyaF

Sarnia-Lambton

Saturday, February 18 at 10 a.m.

Register for the town hall here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZElcuuhqz8vGdTIzpyIDn2ZuY4K4FsDx1zk

Haliburton County

Tuesday, February 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Register for the town hall here: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZctd-2prTMrHdIEVqJ13f0acQ74TMEJfbW5

The Ford Government's Ongoing Plan to Further Privatize Hospital Services

On January 16, 2023, the Ford government revealed their plan on how they planned to deal with the current crisis in health care.  

Premier Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced that their plan to deal with the unacceptable backlog of surgical and diagnostic procedures was to move them out of public hospitals to private for profit surgical and diagnostic clinics starting with cataract surgery, then expanding to MRIs and CT scans and finally to performing hip and knee replacements. The Premier has also said that this is a permanent change that will continue even after the backlog of surgical cases has eased.  

Neither Premier Ford nor Health Minster Jones would comment on the “upselling” of services which is the practice of offering better products to patients than those covered by OHIP.  

COPE Ontario and its members are asking the Ford government to cease and desist from further privatizing vital services now provided by the public hospital system. Such a plan if implemented will lead to more professional and allied health care workers leaving the public health care system and moving to private clinics that will not be affected by Bill 124, which caps wages for all public sector workers at one per cent (1%) total wages for a period of three (3) years.  Despite Premiers Ford’s recent statement that Bill 124 has lapsed, which is incorrect and misleading, as many health care and public sector workers are still affected by Bill 124, which in some cases will extend into 2024 and 2025.  

The people of Ontario should be genuinely concerned about the Ford government’s plan to further privatize public health care services which will lead to the health care system in Ontario being based on one’s ability to pay for health care rather than based on a person’s needs, as stated in the Canada Health Act. 

COPE Ontario is asking its members and all Ontarians to personally contact and e-mail Premier Ford’s office and their local MPP office to express their opposition to the Ford government’s proposed plan for the further privatization of the public hospital system.  

PSI - Our Future is Public Conference Overview

PSI - Our Future Is Public Conference Overview

by Lorrie Vandersluis

 For those who are unfamiliar with Public Services International (PSI) is a global union federation for workers in public services, including social services, healthcare, municipal services,   central government and public utilities.

 *Founded: 1907

 *Members: 30 million in 154 countries

 *Headquartered: Ferney-Voltaire, France

As many of you know, I am heavily involved in keeping services public municipally, provincially and nationally. COPE/SEPB National delegated me to attend this amazing conference with Luke minded people from all over the world. This was my first international conference. What an incredible feeling it is to work on these global issues, actively participating in making peoples lives better. An incredible privilege and honour.

Attended the second  “Our Future is Public” conference in Santiago, Chile. The first was held in Amsterdam in 2019. Well over 1000 leaders attended this 2022 conference to defend global public services. My focus was healthcare and education. My colleague, Maryeve Boyer, attended “Economic Justice and Public Services”, that included taxation, women and Indigenous workers.

To me, the primary objective is to mitigate suffering. We heard many, many examples of how corporate greed is increasing suffering globally with the abuse of essential services. There was a real desire for health care to be governed by the public to keep accountability, including costs under control.  Privatization is proven to drive costs significantly higher with quality decreasing.

We learned that many other countries are suffering with the same issues with essential services becoming privatized. Sharing stories is critical. A University of Amsterdam professor had never heard of the Walkerton water scandal here in Ontario and will now use this in examples of what can go wrong.

There are very large corporations driving privatization, including private insurance providers, particularly in health care. We are seeing more and more that health care is becoming a global commodity with a sharp increase in health care on the global stock markets. We can not let this happen!  Health care is for all!  A right. We and our health care can not become commodities to venture capitalists.  In many countries the wealthy have much easier access to health care. There is concern this is promoting “survival of the fittest” and setting us back globally on equity issues.  There is a need to have democratic controls.

We had the privilege of a site visit at a public hospital in Santiago, Chile.  The physician lead gave us a personal tour. He did point out the the income discrimination in the Chilean health care system where there is approximately 80% private health care.  This public hospital is not facilitated with radiological equipments like CT, MRI. Chileans would need to go to a private hospital for those kinds of services. They were very proud of their 2 ultrasound machines.  This public hospital felt like a community treasure, with a strong feeling of community ownership.  A real sense of pride was the childcare on the hospital site for site. This is available from newborn to after school programming. Again, it was very clear how proud staff were of this childcare program and not looked at like a liability.

There will be a Santiago Declaration on Global Health Care coming. This will also be presented to the World Health Organization for adoption. There is a World Health Care Summit being held in Berlin this year to further mobilize on this issue. This is the beginning of this project but I do feel that by addressing this with solidarity that we can be successful.

Advised that United Nations has agreed to consider a fair taxation convention to look at global tax architecture.

April 7 has been identified as “Peoples Health Day”.  #ourhealthisnotforsale

This work does not come without risk. Many countries are wanting privatization. Some citizens in this group are at risk of reprisal, including some countries making travel difficult who take part in anti privatization work. All of our correspondence must therefor be encrypted.

There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PRIVATE PLAYERS. You do not have to look far in Ontario to realize this. Just look at the situation we found ourselves in during the pandemic in our private nursing homes.  The free pass for greedy capitalists needs to stop.  Taking our public services back is happening globally, usually after a disaster like we experienced in our nursing homes.  There are over 1000 examples where services have gone back to public. There is a term for it called “remunicipalization”.  Public, municipal ownership is demonstrating over and over a far higher level of democratic intervention with the involvement of municipalities.

There will be more information coming. We will be working on building knowledge on public ownership.  There are transnational databases being developed collecting and mapping cases across countries and sectors.

Kind Regards,

Lorrie Vandersluis

COPE Ontario Health Care Report (October 2022)

COPE ONTARIO HEALTH CARE REPORT (October 2022)

COPE Ontario has instituted a regular health care report for COPE members four (4) times a year.  The health care report will keep COPE members updated on the changes occurring in health care and the impact of changes on COPE health care workers. 

The next issues of the COPE Health Care Report for 2022 will be in December. In 2023 the Health Care Report will be quarterly.

Privatization of Healthcare in Ontario – Part 2

On August 18, 2022, the new Minister of Health Sylvia Jones announced the Ford government’s “Plan to Stay Open, Health System Stability and Recovery” which includes investments in private clinics surgeries, legislation to permit the transfer of some hospital patients to long-term care and the governments commitment to hire 6,000 more healthcare workers as well as a five-point plan to provide the best possible care to patients and residents. Minister Jones also stated that the “status quo” is no longer acceptable. The Plan to Stay Open includes temporarily covering the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, so they can resume or begin caring for patients sooner.

The government further indicated that they are “considering options for further increasing surgical capacity by increasing the number of publicly funded surgical procedures performed at “independent health facilities” and by “investing more to increase surgeries in existing private clinics.”

By transferring some surgical procedures out of public hospitals to private clinics, this means that a public hospital system already experiencing severe shortages of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers runs the risk of escalating staff shortages to even a higher level. Private surgery clinics in Ontario accept a patient’s OHIP card for the surgical procedure but are able to charge patients for other things such as meals, physiotherapy, and more.  Patients often leave a private clinic following a simple surgical procedure owing hundreds and sometime thousands of dollars which they must pay.

The Shouldice Hospital, one of Ontario’s private hospitals which specializes in hernia operations, require patients stay in hospitals for three (3) nights post-operatively. This surgical procedure is covered by OHIP. In most public hospitals patients having a hernia operation are discharged the day of their operation.

 Thirty to forty per cent of Ontario’s health care system is already privatized, including services delivered by physicians, laboratories, and many walk-in clinics.

The Canada Health Act (CHA ) of 1984 sets out criteria and conditions that provincial and territorial health insurance plans have to meet in order to receive the full cash contribution for which they are eligible under the Canada Health Transfer.

It is important to remember that the role of publicly funded health insurance is to ensure that no Canadian is denied health service because of an inability to pay. For profit health care undermines the Canada Health Act and results in unequal access to quality health care.

Toronto emergency physician Dr. Lisa Salamon said that the Ontario government should focus on supporting and retaining healthcare workers instead of considering privatization to solve the province’s staffing crisis.

Expanding the privatization of health care leads to increases in staffing shortages driving skilled health care workers from public hospitals to private clinics.

A recent poll conducted by Angus Reid a non-profit Institute in September of 2022---found that half of Canadians reject the idea of more private care, and another half are less certain.

One thing is clear, Canadians are concerned about the future of healthcare.  Three in five (61%) say care in their community is poor or terrible.

When Minster Jones was asked if there would be further privatization of the provincial healthcare system, she responded by saying “all options are on the table.” 

Research has clearly shown that the further privatization of health care will result in health care workers moving from the public health care sector to the private health care sector. A short while ago Health Minister Sylvia Jones claimed that the health care system in Ontario was fine. However, if one looks at the actual situation in health care in Ontario, it is clear that hospitals have been closing emergency departments, and critical care units due to lack of staff, and that wait times for surgical procedures and diagnostic tests are expanding.

Home Care Privatization:

In 1996, Ontario’s former government under Premier Mike Harris began the privatization of homecare. The Harris government brought in for-profit companies to bid for services against the non-for-profit organizations such as the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), Red Cross, and others. Over a number of years, for-profit organizations took over more and more homecare services. In 2015, Ontario’s Auditor general reported that 62% of public funding for the Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) went to private home care companies.

Home care is also in crisis and the current provincial government is pushing ahead with privatizing the last public parts of homecare.

Long-term Care Privatization:

The Ford government has announced that they will be building another 30,00 new and renovated long-term care beds. The majority of these beds have been awarded to for-profit companies including chains where thousands of long-term patients died during the pandemic. Research indicates that for-profit long-term care homes hire fewer full-time staff, opting instead to hire casual and part-time staff in order to avoid providing staff decent salaries and health and welfare benefits.

Healthcare Sector Meetings - 2023

COPE Ontario will be hosting virtual meetings for all COPE Ontario Healthcare Sector Locals and or bargaining units. Local Presidents, Chairpersons, current negotiating committee and Executive Board members are invited to participate. Meetings start at 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Upcoming 2023 Meetings scheduled:

Tuesday, February 21

Wednesday, May 3

Thursday, September 7

Thursday, November 30

Please register with Pina Farisco at [email protected] or with Maureen O'Halloran at [email protected] 

 

Superior Court Justice Koehnen Strikes Down Bill 124

COPE Ontario members and Union leaders across Ontario are celebrating the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision that determined that Bill 124 infringed on a Union’s right to collective bargaining and freedom of association. Bill 124 limited wage increases for all public sector workers in Ontario to 1% total compensation for a three (3) year period.

Justice Koehnen stated in his decision that “the Charter of Rights and Freedom protects not just the right to associate, but also the right to a meaningful process in which unions can put on the table those issues that are of concern to workers and have them discussed in good faith. Legislation that takes issues off the table interferes with collective bargaining.”

Justice Koehnen then concluded that Bill 124 was void and of no effect.

The Attorney General’s office has indicated that the province is reviewing the decision and it is their intention to appeal the court decision.
COPE Ontario is part of the Ontario Federation of Labour coalition of approximately forty (40) Unions that challenged the constitutionality of Bill 124.

COPE Ontario Stands with Education Workers and All Workers in Ontario

Premier Ford and his Conservative party’s Bill 28 is an abhorrent piece of legislation that seeks to impose a contract with cuts to wages, strips workers of the right to protest and suppresses their voices, and saddles workers who dare to defy such ruthless and brutal legislation by the Premier and his party with a hefty fine. This legislation also pre-emptively overrides the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code which leaves workers with no right to challenge the legislation at the Labour Board or in court.

Bill 28 is historic and precedent-setting in all the wrong ways. It seeks to attack and undermine workers and the very democratic principles and ideologies that make a civil, democratic society civil. By invoking the notwithstanding clause, Ford and the Conservative Party are seeking to trample on some of our most fundamental rights while limiting the ability of those he and his government are stomping all over to challenge him and the legislation.

As of Friday, November 4, education workers who are members of CUPE-OSBCU will be in a legal strike position. Regardless of if the Bill passes or not, these brave workers will be off the job and fighting for themselves and for all our collective human rights. We must support and stand with them.

There are many ways you can support these workers who are bravely taking a stand.

  • To find your closest picket line, please use CUPE’s Picket Line Finder here: https://cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully/. You can also send an email to Ford using the email form provided on the page. For those who live closest to an NDP MPP office, please consider travelling to your nearest PC MPP’s office to picket. The NDP is standing in solidarity with education workers, and we thank them for their solidarity.
  • Email your MPP and let them know you’re opposed to this draconian legislation and that you stand with education workers using the OFL’s handy email your MPP tool found here: https://ofl.ca/action/email-hands-off/
  • Keep an eye on https://cupe.on.ca/dontbeabully/ and CUPE’s social media channels for the latest directly from CUPE:
  • For our members working in education, keep in touch with your Local and their communications for your protocol on how to navigate this all.
  • Stay vigilant and ready to act – in the coming days, there’ll be further actions called. Hear the calls to action and rise to stand with your fellow workers.

COPE Ontario stands in solidarity with education workers and all workers who are under an unprecedented attack that seeks to undermine our collective Labour and human rights. We must stand together and fight back. If history has taught us anything, the old adage remains true – the workers united will never be defeated.

 

COPE Ontario Health Care Report - July 2022

COPE ONTARIO HEALTH CARE REPORT (July 2022)

COPE Ontario is instituting a regular health care report for COPE members four (4) times a year.  The health care report will keep COPE members updated on the changes occurring in health care and the impact of changes on COPE health care workers. 

The next issues of the COPE Health Care Report for 2022 will be in October and December. In 2023 the health care report will be quarterly.

New Health Minister:

The Ministry of Health of Ontario is the ministry responsible for the administrating the healthcare system in Ontario. On June 20, 2019, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care were split into two (2) separate ministries, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Premier Doug Ford unveiled his new cabinet on Friday, June 24, 2022. The new Minister of Health is Sylvia Jones, who will also be the Deputy Premier of Ontario.

She takes over from the former Minister of Health Christine Elliot who did not seek re-election after serving in the role for more than two (2) years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sylvia Jones is the member representing Dufferin-Caledon and has held this seat since she was first elected following the 2007 general election.

She was appointed to the provincial cabinet after the Conservative Party formed government in 2018, and has been the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Solicitor General of Ontario.

She attended Fanshawe College, where she received a diploma in radio broadcasting. She also worked as an executive assistant to former Progressive Conservative (PC) leader John Tory. The Ministry of Health consumes almost half (75 billion) of provincial program spending.

Ministry of Long-Term Care:

The Ministry of Long-Term Care’s role in health care is to ensure that Ontarians have access to quality long-term care in a safe, home-like environment.

Minister of Long-Term Care:

Paul Calandra will remain as the Minister of Long-Term Care. He has served as a Minister in the Ontario cabinet since 2019. He has been the government house leader for the Progressive Conservatives since 2019, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Minister of Long-Tern Care since 2022.  He represents Markham-Stouffville in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Canada Health Act:

The Canada Health Act is a statute of the Parliament of Canada, adopted in 1984, which establishes the framework for federal financial contributions to the provincial and territorial health insurance programs, commonly known as “medicare.”  The Canada Health Act is federal legislation that provides the foundation for the Canadian health care system. The Act is administered by Health Canada, the federal department with primary responsibility for ensuring and improving the health of Canadians. The Act also establishes certain principles and sets out the criteria and conditions that each health insurance plan, such as OHIP, must meet in order to receive funding. These requirements are public administration, universality, comprehensiveness, and accessibility. Extra billing is also banned by the Act.  In order to qualify for federal funding, provinces and territories must provide coverage for all “insured health services” which includes hospital services, physician services, and surgical-dental services provided to insured persons, if they are not covered by any other program. “insured persons” is defined as anyone who is a resident of a province or territory and lawfully entitled to be or remain in Canada.

The provinces and territories administer and deliver most of Canada’s health care services, with all provincial and territorial health insurance plans expected to meet the national principles set out under the Canada Health Act. Each provincial and territorial health insurance plan covers medically necessary hospital and doctor’s services that are provided on a pre-paid basis, without direct charges at the point of service.

The role of the Ontario government in health care includes:

  • Administration of health insurance plans;
  • Planning and funding of care in hospitals and other health facilities; such as services provided by doctors and other health care professionals;
  • Planning and implementation of health promotion and public health initiatives; and
  • Negotiation of fee schedules with health professionals.
  • Section 15 of the Canada Health Act allows the federal government to withhold all or part of the transfer payment to a provinces and territories for non-compliance with the Act.

Hospital Sector Update:

Several COPE collective agreements have been resolved for the next period of time up to and including March of 2024, e.g., Smooth Rock Falls Hospital and the Smooth Rock Falls Detoxification Centre,

Dryden Regional Health Sciences Centre March 31, 2023

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is proceeding to interest arbitration.

Sensenbrenner Hospital and London Health Sciences Centre are currently in negotiations.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Service Workers International Union (SEIU) have been bargaining with centrally with Hospital Employers.  Negotiations have reached an impasse and an arbitration date has been set for either late June or early July. The arbitration award when issued will affect approximately 70, 000 health care workers in the hospital sector primarily service and clerical worker and Registered Practical Nurses.

The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPEU) have been bargaining in the hospital sector centrally for paramedical workers and received an interest arbitration award on July 7, 2022. Their current collective agreement expired on March 22, 2022.  The new collective agreement is for the period April 1, 2022, until March 31, 2025. This award affects approximately 12, 536 employees in 59 different hospitals

  The wage increases awarded were 1% in each year of the collective agreement, as per Bill 124, effective April 1, 2022, 2023 and 2024.  Slight increases were also awarded for evening and weekend premiums in each year of the agreement.  The Board of Arbitration also awarded language dealing with the elimination of a bargaining unit position.

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