SUDBURY -- CUPE Local 1339 members hosted a rally on Saturday in Powassan in support of health care providers.

In a press release titled 'Scrooge Ford. It's Time to Care', organizers say the Ford Conservatives are attacking the vital health care services that Ontarians depend on.

They say the cuts to services harm families, children, and the most vulnerable across Ontario while the Ford Conservatives hand out tax breaks for their rich supporters.

Ford Conservatives are making health care less accessible and accountable to Ontarians, throwing the door wide open to privatization, and putting less money per person into the system, according to the release.

"Staff are told 'PSW staffing is in crisis and this is the new norm.' Front line staff are working short routinely. Support services are delegated duties outside their classifications to attempt to meet the basic needs of residents. The new norm is do more with less! With an aging population, increased complex care and mental health in mixed populations, this is not possible while maintaining the safety of staff, dignity and respect our residents deserve. This is simply unacceptable. Our seniors are suffering and they need help now," expressed President CUPE Local 1339 Amanda Farrow-Giroux in representation of union members at Eastholme-Home for the Aged.

"Every new day without a legislated, minimum daily care standard is another day of residents spending long hours alone while waiting for basic needs to be met, as workers are run off their feet trying to do their best to keep up. It is unacceptable, facilities rely on wealthy families to additionally purchase care to give them a bigger piece of the pie by independently hiring personal companions while other residents less fortunate are left with the crumbs," continued Giroux.

Organizers say that in the spirit of the holiday season, where health care providers work around the clock 365 days a year, they are asking the government to stop being a 'scrooge' and make four hours of daily care for long-term care residents the law.

The rally was followed by a march downtown where those involved collected petition signatures.

In response to the CUPE petition, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli stated, "we understand that proper staffing plays a significant role in ensuring that the needs of all long-term care residents are being met and we understand that there can be challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining PSWs and other font-line staff... our government currently provides funding for a number of staffing initiatives... $4 million through the Personal Support Worker Education Fund... $19.4 million to maintain direct-care staffing levels in all long-term care homes... we will continue to work with the sector to determine how to best address these needs."

Officials from CUPE say Ontario spends less per person on health care than any jurisdiction in Canada.