The protest is in advance of a major demonstration promised by the Ontario Healthcare Coalition to be held Nov. 30 in North Bay.
Shawn Shank, president of CUPE local 139 said, “4,150 North Bay citizens participated in a town hall held October 22 held to discuss the cutbacks at the hospital, 83% had experience of personal or familial use of NBHRC services in the last year and 52% found problems with accessing care or with the quality of care. This is a very good indicator that despite heroic efforts by NBRHC staff, the public feels the impact sharply of the ongoing cuts to the hospital."
Shank told BayToday that he hopes the government is paying attention.
"I don't know what more we can do to get them to listen. We have positive feedback from the three levels of government here in North Bay and Nipissing. I hope it's getting through to the people who need to hear the message."
“Ontario has frozen hospital funding for four years. Estimates cited by the Auditor General calculate that hospitals need a 5.8% increase annually just to meet their basic costs. The budget for the North Bay Regional Health Centre has been cut by over 20% in real terms over the last four years. Readmission rates show a sharp increase, as the quality of care is breaking down,” says Sharon Richer, northeastern vice- president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.
“North Bay is squeezed between the P3 model it was forced to use to build the new hospital and a 4-year operational funding freeze,” says Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE.
“Ontario doesn’t fund its hospitals properly- it lags the rest of Canada on per capita hospital spending by 25.4%. The suggestion by MPP Vic Fedeli that one time funding would be sufficient is not at all helpful. NBHRC is badly under funded, under-bedded and understaffed and desperately needs an infusion of 6% annually to allow it to meet its basic costs.”