June 19, 2019 8:55 am
Updated: June 25, 2019 10:02 am

Ford government lays off more than 400 workers at Ontario health agencies Wednesday

WATCH ABOVE: Global News Queen's Park Bureau Chief Travis Dhanraj speaks to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott following over 400 layoffs at health agencies across the province.

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The Ford government announced Wednesday that 416 layoff notices will be handed out to employees at health agencies across the province.

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The agencies include those that will be merged into the health super agency the government is creating, which was announced late last year and is called Ontario Health. The super agency includes the province’s local health integration networks, Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario, the Trillium Gift of Life Network and others.

READ MORE: Government memo indicates major restructuring plan for Ontario Ministry of Health

“With each of these agencies having their own administrative and back-office supports, we are needlessly duplicating operations and spending money that we desperately need to pay for and enhance direct patient care,” a statement from Health Minister Christine Elliott read.

“Examples of duplication include positions in communications, planning, data analytics and financial services. None of the impacted positions provide direct patient care. In fact, as the government makes these changes, there will be no negative impact on frontline [sic] care, which will continue uninterrupted.”

”We understand that our plan will impact individuals’ lives,” said Elliott.

WATCH: NDP MPP Marit Stiles reacts to news Doug Ford’s Conservative government would hand out layoff notices to 416 employees

The government projects the change will save $350 million a year by 2021-22, and a senior official said recently that $250 million will be saved this year.

“That’s why we have asked agencies to responsibly avoid filling vacant positions and accept early retirements to minimize the impact of the reorganization into Ontario Health,” said Elliott.

“We are eliminating duplicative administration and redirecting those savings to direct patient care. We can all agree that funding front-line services instead of duplicated administration will do more good for Ontarians and is a far better use of health-care dollars.”

READ MORE: 10 former health ministers urge Ontario government to reverse ‘drastic’ cuts

The NDP disagreed with Elliott’s and the government’s announcement and issued a statement saying the cuts will end up affecting patients.

“Patients battling cancer can’t afford to have Cancer Care Ontario operations upended with firings. Those waiting for an organ donor match to be found can’t afford for the Trillium Gift of Life Network’s work to grind to a halt. Those desperately waiting for home care can’t afford for home care coordinators [sic] to be taken away from them,” said NDP MPP Marit Stiles.

“Health care in Ontario was left hanging by a thread by Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals, and Doug Ford is now cutting the thread,” said Stiles. “That leaves us all worried that the hallway medicine crisis, the long waits, and the troubles in Ontario’s health care system are going to go from bad to worse.”

OPSEU President Smokey Thomas said the announcement is just another “promise betrayed.”

WATCH: Former Ontario health ministers speak out about proposed cuts (May 23, 2019)

“Ford promised no job losses, but it’s becoming clearer by the day that he never had a real plan. He’s running a government by chaos and the people of Ontario are paying the price. Ford won based on lofty promises to reign in the deficit without any consequence for frontline jobs and services – he’s now proven himself incompetent on both ends,” Thomas said in a statement.

“Every single one of these jobs matters. These workers are all part of an interconnected team that provides high-quality, patient-centred care; they’re not just numbers or potential “efficiencies” to be cut.”

Elliott said right now, the province has a large network of provincial agencies that has created confusion for patients and providers. She believes the reorganization and elimination of positions will ultimately direct more funds to direct patient care.

In all, the government plans to eliminate 825 full time equivalent positions at health agencies, many they say are currently vacant; these positions are to be merged into Ontario Health.

During last year’s election, Premier Doug Ford repeatedly promised that not a single person would lose their job under his government.

With files from the Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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