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Giant teddy bear to hit town with health message

Posted: June 15, 2017

JUNE 8 – The Chatham Voice

The Ontario and Chatham-Kent Health Coalitions are touring a giant teddy bear with the slogan, “We Can’t Bear to Lose Medicare,” to 20 towns from late May to mid-June to raise awareness about the threat of health care privatization.

The bear, which is seven feet tall and five feet wide, will be in Chatham in front of Sears on June 9 at 2:30 p.m. for a media event with leafletting and public discussion about the issues.

Chatham-Kent Health Coalition members, patients, health providers, and concerned residents will join together with the giant teddy bear for a media event and public leafletting and discussion.

According to health coalition co-chair Shirley Roebuck, private for-profit clinics are pushing to privatize services from our local public hospitals.

“Although the Ontario government has held out against wholesale privatization of diagnostics and surgeries, still, privatization has crept in. Patients, often elderly, are shocked to find out that private clinics are charging user fees amounting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars for medically-needed care such as cataract surgeries,” Roebuck noted.

In provinces such as B.C. and Quebec, private clinics and extra user fees for patients have become a major problem, threatening single-tier public health care. In B.C. private clinics have even launched a court challenge to bring down the laws that protect patients from user fees.

“They want to maximize their profits by billing the public health system and billing patients on top. The Ontario Health Coalition will raise funds along the way to help the B.C. Health Coalition intervene in the legal challenge brought by the private for-profit clinics, which threatens public health care all across Canada,” she added.

“Canada’s public health care system is under threat by private profits-seeking clinics that want to take services out of our local public hospitals. These private clinics bill OHIP for tests and surgeries and bill patients hundreds or even thousands of dollars as well,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “User fees for medically-needed hospital and physician care are unlawful under the Canada Health Act which requires that health care be publicly funded and equitable for all Canadians. We are drawing attention to this, explaining to patients their rights, and pushing back against the takeover of non-profit and public hospitals by private for-profit corporations.”

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