Meet Doctor Eric Hoskins. He is Ontario’s new Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. He is a doctor and a Rhodes Scholar who has spent most of his life helping those who are less fortunate.
But what can SEIU Members and healthcare workers expect from him as health minister?
Judging just by his past work experience, Eric is probably more likely to focus on improving healthcare services rather than cutting care.
That’s because for most of his career, he has been helping children in war-torn areas throughout the world. From 1987 to 1990 he lived and worked in Sudan providing humanitarian and medical relief to Ethiopian refugees. But Sudan isn’t the only place he has worked. His work has touched the lives of people living in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Burundi.
He also founded War Child Canada, an organization that provides support for children and their families in war-torn areas throughout the world. War Child provides humanitarian programs such as education, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, psychosocial rehabilitation, upholding the rights of children, healthcare and work training. The organization has also spread awareness of the issues facing war-affected children.
His heart seems to be in the right place.
Hoskins has been given several awards for his work overseas. In 2008, he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has also received the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross, and has been awarded the United Nations Lester B. Pearson Peace Medal.
He turned his attention to politics and won a seat in a Toronto by-election in 2009. He began to rise rapidly within the Liberal Party when he became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, less than a year after he was elected. In 2011 he ran for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. Even though he didn’t win, he backed Kathleen Wynne, who won the leadership and is currently Ontario’s premier.
Even though Eric has spent most of his career helping those who are less fortunate, SEIU members need to continue to remind him about investing in our public healthcare system that is easily accessible to all.
There is already talk within Liberal circles about putting the brakes on wages. Some high ranking Liberal officials have said there won’t be any new money for wage increases for anyone on the public payroll.
“Our budget was very clear that there’s no more money for wage increases. Unions knew that.
The official added it’s not going to be all “lollipops and rainbows.”
SEIU will concede this point: SEIU Members didn’t volunteer hours of their time, energy, and resources talking to thousands of voters across Ontario for lollipops and rainbows. They did it to protect our healthcare system, improve working conditions for healthcare workers, and ensure the government delivers its promise to increase PSWs minimum wage to $16.50 an hour. That’s why they canvassed for the Liberal Party.
Judging by his past experience, Eric will probably make a good Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. But together, we have to keep on reminding him to fulfill his government’s promises.