On Tuesday, April 18, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) will be officially launching their province-wide campaign to stop the privatization of public hospitals to for-profit private clinics and hospitals. The OHC is a non partisan, non-profit organization, that has successfully engaged in mass scale, on-the-ground community organizing, to protect publicly funded health care, for over 40 years.
The newly formed, grassroots, Grey Bruce County Health Coalition is working with the OHC to organize and conduct the campaign in as many Grey Bruce towns as possible. Our reach will depend on the number of volunteers who come forward to help in this ambitious endeavour. If you wish to volunteer please email: email@example.com
What is the plan? On May 26/27, OHC and local coalition volunteers will be staffing multiple polling stations across Ontario. They aim to garner 1M votes to make it politically impossible for the Ford government to implement its plans. The ballot question is simple: Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics? Yes or No.
For 100 years or more community members have built and supported local hospitals by fund raising, donating and volunteering. Rural Hospital Auxiliary members and citizens have been a dedicated example of these efforts. Private for-profit clinics typically locate in large urban centres because they have the wealthiest populations who can afford to pay to give owners the profit they expect. In a wide geographic area, with little or no public transit, and dangerous winter roads that are often closed, it is critically important to maintain our small rural hospitals and the full array of services available at the Owen Sound Regional Hospital.
We don’t need to privatize hospital services. Public hospital operating rooms are only open 5 days a week and close at 4 p.m. Many have been permanently closed. This is a direct result of chronic under-funding of existing infrastructure and lack of staff. It is a choice by government not to fund and open the under-used operating rooms we already have in our public hospitals. In a video by Dr. Warner, he explains that funding and opening existing operating rooms, in fifty hospitals across the province, would clear the cataract surgery backlog in fourteen weeks! It is not necessary to use public money to build new for-profit clinics to clear surgical backlogs. That is a deliberate choice by the Ford government to further their privatization plans.
In 1984 the Canada Health Act reassured people by saying, “…no person can be charged for medically needed hospital and physician care…care is to be provided based on need – no matter where you live, and no matter how rich or poor you are.” This is the promise of our Medicare as a human right. However, the Canada Health Act does not specifically prevent services being removed from hospitals to for-profit clinics. This is a loophole that no government has been willing to fix and has allowed provinces to increasingly privatize even when financial claw-backs or other penalties are invoked. The recent Supreme Court decision to not hear an appeal by a BC doctor who operates private clinics and has been challenging the access to private care, is a promising step forward. Meanwhile, Ontario is escalating privatization at an alarming rate.
Other reasons exist to stop privatizing our hospitals. For-profit clinics do not create a single new staff person. They make staff shortages worse. Ontario has the fewest hospital beds per person in Canada.
Ontario funds our hospitals at the lowest rate in Canada. We are at a crisis point that has been years in the making. Soon every service that can be removed from public hospitals will be and only unprofitable services will remain.
Information in this letter has been taken from the fact sheets at www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca
Please go to this website for further information and/or join the GreyBruce County Health Coalition Group on Facebook. To volunteer locally email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Norah Beatty, Brenda Scott
Co-chairs, Grey Bruce Health Coalition