Ontario Health Action Assembly

November 29, 2011, 3:25 PM EST

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Dozens of CAW activists from local unions and retiree chapters across the province attended the two-day Ontario Health Action Annual Assembly November 19-20 in Toronto.

The assembly provides an opportunity to listen to expert speakers and draft an action plan for the year, preparing the coalition to respond to issues that will include the Don Drummond Report and the Commission on the Reform of Public Services, both of which will target public services and public service workers. 

CAW Local 27 and CAW Council President Tim Carrie voiced his concern about the challenges confronting health care services. "We will certainly face a concerted effort to cut not only the wages of hospital workers but to also cut the services they provide, using the deficit as an excuse.  It's important we have the ability to counter their arguments, using the experiences of the speakers we heard, like author Linda McQuaig and professor Hugh Armstrong."

Recognized at the Assembly this year were the workers of La Chaumiere Retirement Home in Puce, members of CAW Local 2458, who worked for 10 weeks without pay to care for residents. 

Shawn Rouse, CAW Ontario Health Care Council President and CAW Local 1106 Financial Secretary noted the importance of recognizing these women and this event. "What they did is virtually unprecedented, and unheard of; they are quite simply health care angels.  It certainly highlights the vulnerability of the seniors who they cared for, who essentially had no one else to turn to."

La Chaumiere unit chairperson Lynne Peltier thanked the coalition for the acknowledgement and recognized her local and national union for their support. 

CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier also received the Daniel Benedict Award, named after former CAW national representative and a founding member and co-chair of the Ontario Health Coalition. The Daniel Benedict Award is presented annually to the person or persons who, working with one of the local health coalitions, best embodies Dan Benedict's spirit of extraordinary community activism and commitment to the protection and extension of public Medicare.

For more information on the Ontario Health Coalition, please visit: http://www.web.net/ohc/

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