The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is accusing the provincial government of attempting to sway the Sault Ste. Marie byelection with hospital funding.

The council claims the Sault Area Hospital has received a 3.8 per cent increase in funding in 2017, compared to the average of 2 per cent received by other northern Ontario health centres.

The numbers are based on provincial funding announcements says Michael Hurley, president of OCHU.
"All of them are cutting beds, staff and services and all of them are under-funded."

"So I don't think there's a compelling case to make that the Sault Ste. Marie's hospital's needs are very much different at all from North Bay, from Sudbury's or any of the other hospitals," says Hurley.

Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

Members with the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions plan an upcoming rally to protest cuts to hospitals across the province. The rally is scheduled for June 8 in Sudbury, Ont. (Samantha Samson/CBC)

Sudbury has been suffering from a lack of funding, fewer staff members and a toxic workplace says Dave Shelefontiuk, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1623, which represents services and clerical groups at Health Sciences North.

"People cannot do what they're paid to do. They're running around, trying to get things down and the morale is like "why am I here," says Shelefontiuk.

He calls it a constant uphill battle, without any ground being gained.

CBC News asked the Sault Area Hospital and the Ministry of Health about the funding differences. Neither were able to comment in time for our deadline.

OCHU and CUPE are planning another rally to protest cuts to all Ontario hospitals

That rally is scheduled for June 8 in Sudbury, with more rallies set to take place in the coming months in other parts of the province.