“In light of what is now known about the Greenbelt deals, it is possible that backroom deals also extend to the health care portfolio,” says a coalition official.
InnisfilToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or through a website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to the Ontario Health Privatization Referendum held earlier this year.
It is not just the Greenbelt that is at risk of being sold to unscrupulous speculators.
The Simcoe County Health Coalition is deeply concerned about the privatization of health services, and we are not alone.
In May, we asked the citizens of Simcoe County to vote on a referendum on this issue, and 15,385 people responded to our call. An overwhelming majority (99 percent) voted against the privatization of hospital services.
During the referendum campaign, we spoke to thousands of people from all walks of life. Most were highly skeptical of the government’s message and angry at inaction on key issues such as waiting times – for procedures, specialists and being seen in the emergency room – and staffing levels in hospitals.
Many respondents mentioned their fear that corruption was part of the reason for the collapse of our healthcare system. In light of what is now known about the Greenbelt deals, it is possible that backroom deals extend to the health care portfolio as well.
Since coming to power, the current provincial government has made several damaging health care decisions that have called their “for the people” claim into question.
Let’s look at it.
The severe underfunding and understaffing of our public hospitals is becoming more apparent every day, causing long wait times and even emergency room closures across Ontario, especially in rural areas. We’ve had an unprecedented wave of permanent or partial emergency room closures.
Since January, there have been more than 100 temporary emergency closures across Ontario, in addition to the permanent closure of the emergency department in Minden.
Under the Ford government, Ontario is now the province with the fewest hospital beds per capita and the lowest hospital spending in the country. They are $1.7 billion short of the health care budget, and the Department of Health has yet to present a comprehensive and urgent plan to recruit and retain much-needed hospital staff.
Why would nurses and other medical staff return to work in hospitals if they are underpaid, understaffed, overworked and overburdened?
Meanwhile, the government is spending precious taxpayer dollars appealing the court’s ruling on Bill 124. This bill allowed the government to freeze civil servants’ salaries at a one percent raise per year. This affects the salaries of nurses, personal support workers, medical staff and many other professionals working for the government.
The court called it unconstitutional and declared it invalid.
The Ford government is questioning the decision as nurses leave the public health care system in droves.
Who benefits from all this chaos? Mostly private companies. Nursing agencies, private clinics, private insurance companies, for-profit corporations like those that run long-term care facilities—see the recent long-term care ombudsman report to understand why they should never have been privatized—and all kinds of private entities have sprung up to fill the “gaps” in the system that the current government is causing.
How is this possible, many have asked, considering that health care is a universal right and protected by the Canada Health Act? One answer: Bill 60.
Bill 60 was specifically designed to expand the loopholes that allow private healthcare companies to enter our system, essentially creating fertile ground for our healthcare system to become a two-tiered system. Removes oversight of private entities that can enter the health care system; deregulates medical personnel so that no qualifications are required to call oneself a doctor, surgeon, nurse, MRI technologist, respiratory therapist, etc.; shields information from applicants for new private clinics and financial information about agreements entered into with the province from freedom of information legislation, essentially removing transparency and accountability; and enables private clinics to increase sales of services.
Act 60 was pursued by the legislature without due process and without consultation, in much the same way as Act 23, which allows for the sale of the Greenbelt.
If there weren’t already enough warning signs, the Ford government recently awarded new 30-year contracts and provided money for major expansions to the worst for-profit corporations operating long-term facilities. After thousands of deaths during the pandemic due to mismanagement and malpractice, the money goes to them rather than our underfunded hospitals.
We believe that affordable and quality healthcare should be available to everyone regardless of their financial situation. Privatized services are more expensive, whether they are paid for out of pocket or from our taxes.
Privatization removes essential staff from hospitals, causing further closures and longer waiting times. A recently published report on long-term care and other studies comparing public and private health care show that privatization reduces accountability and leads to worse outcomes.
Privatization will threaten the well-being of our communities and we are taking a stand to protect our health care system.
The Ontario Health Coalition organized a strong demonstration against the privatization of health care. On September 25, 2023, members of the Simcoe County Health Coalition will ride the GO train to join concerned citizens in a massive protest at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
We invite all interested residents, health professionals and supporters to join us. Make your voice heard and help us defend our public health. Contact [email protected] or 647-835-7870 to reserve a seat on a GO train.
Date: September 25, 2023
Time: Meet at 8:30
Location: Barrie South GO Station.
Destination: Queen’s Park, Toronto
Simcoe County Health Coalition, Co-Chair
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