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Healthcare advocates campaign to ‘save local public hospitals’

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

A rally was held Thursday outside MPP Bob Bailey’s office as healthcare advocates called out Premier Doug Ford’s government for its “outright lies” about privatizing health care, members said.

“We won’t tolerate this deception,” June Weiss told The Journal ahead of the rally, held as part of an Ontario Health Coalition campaign to save local public hospitals, the group says.

“We demand that Ford stop the privatization of our public hospital services and take real action to deal with the emergency in healthcare this government had a significant hand in creating.”

Healthcare advocates held a rally Thursday outside MPP Bob Bailey’s office. (Submitted photo)

Weiss, a retired healthcare worker and co-chair of the Sarnia-Lambton Health Coalition, says the Ford government lied to the public when denying plans to privatize healthcare, leading up to the election earlier this year.

“After outright denial of their plans to privatize prior to the provincial election, as soon as the election was over, the Ford government announced it is indeed going to privatize our pubic hospital services,” she said, quoting a report from the Ontario Health Coalition.

In August, the Ford government noted it will consider options for increasing surgical capacity by “increasing the number of OHIP-covered surgical procedures performed at independent health facilities (IHF).”

Health care advocates held a rally Thursday outside MPP Bob Bailey’s office. (Submitted photo)

Independent health facilities, also known as private clinics, are independently owned and operated, and 98% of them are for-profit corporations, according to Ontario’s Auditor General.

Ford also told reporters that ‘everything is on the table’ when asked about considering privatizing health care, and that the government will need to ‘get creative.’

“There’s one thing we’ll guarantee: you’ll always be covered by OHIP, not the credit card,” he noted at the time.

Weiss also pointed to statements made by Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey during the election, when he called out the local coalition in a debate about health care.

“I want to put to rest this notion by – well, I won’t say who – a certain coalition that is going around saying we are going to privatize healthcare,” Bailey said in May. “There couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

Weiss added, “In our mind… you can’t pretend you are not going to privatize before an election and then, as soon as the election is over, announce plans to privatize.

“It’s morally, ethically wrong; it’s fundamentally undemocratic and can’t go without challenge.”

A spokesperson from Bailey’s office said Thursday he wasn’t available for comment, but provided the following statement:

“Ontario has and will continue to have one of the largest publicly funded health care systems in the world and to support this, our government has invested $77.5 billion this year to continue to provide Ontarians with the care they need when they need it.”

The statement adds, “We are working with all our health care partners to identify innovative solutions to surgical recovery like expanding funding for procedures performed on evenings and weekends. These facilities already perform publicly (OHIP) funded procedures and will ensure patients have access to the healthcare they need and deserve.”

Weiss says the Coalition is hearing from local residents concerned about the issue, especially seniors; they’re urging people to speak out.

“Our biggest thing is to let your MPP know how you feel — Bob Bailey’s office can take phone calls and emails,” she said. “And to get involved, know what’s going on, and start questioning things.

“We need to put the pressure on our MPPs to fix this health care crisis.”





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