Dozens of clerical staff at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital have lost their jobs thanks to Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to health care, union officials say.
At a press conference on Thursday, Sharon Richer, with the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said that despite the premier’s claims that no public sector worker would be laid off because of the creation of the province’s new Ontario Health super agency, 40 workers at St. Mike’s were given their two-weeks notice on Wednesday.
“It’s extremely unfortunate, when we have the Ford government talk about no one on the frontlines will be losing their jobs and that’s exactly what’s not happening here,” she said.
According to Richer, jobs have also been terminated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Providence Health Centre. Those jobs were also in the clerical department.
Richer said she doesn’t believe these positions were eliminated because of redundancies but rather because of a smaller hospital budget.
“(Hospitals) needed at least a five per cent increase in their budget every year due to inflation and the government has not provided that,” she said.
“In real terms, their budget has been cut by three per cent … there is nowhere else to cut but the frontline workers and this will ultimately affect patient care.”
However, Unity Health Toronto, which runs Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s and St. Mike’s, said the information put out by CUPE (which the Ontario Council or Hospital Unions is a subsection of) is incorrect.
“The information put out by CUPE is simply not correct,” a spokesperson for Unity Health Toronto said in a statement.
“CUPE is currently in a union drive with our clerical workers with a vote beginning tomorrow.”
The release said that Unity Health Toronto “recently found eight clerical positions were redundant” and that the organization offered seven of those employees “other related positions within our organization.”
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott denies the union’s allegation.
“There is absolutely no truth to the comment that has been made by CUPE that 40 positions are being laid off. That is not the case,” she said.
In February, Elliott announced that Ontario would be merging 20 health agencies into one super agency and establish local health teams to co-ordinate care as part of a system overhaul.
A new agency, called Ontario Health, would consolidate local health integration networks, Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario and several other agencies.
Premier Doug Ford had said that some management-level positions will be eliminated as part of the planned merger, but that no front-line workers would be out of a job.
“We’re not sure if he just doesn’t know and we would like to talk to him about that,” Richer said.
She said she hopes the Ford government will see these job cuts and increase funding, as they did with the education sector last week.