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Almost 100% of Ontario Health Coalition ballots in Cornwall/SDG cast against privatization

Posted: May 31, 2023

(May 30, 2023)

By: Hugo Rodrigues, Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Of the area residents who voted in the Ontario Health Coalition’s referendum on the expansion of the privatization of public hospitals on May 26-27, 99.6 per cent supported the coalition’s call to reinvest in public hospitals.

Results of the provincewide referendum were announced in communities across Ontario Tuesday morning, with Cornwall/SDG results being simultaneously shared by the local chapter’s co-chairs in front of both Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria and the Cornwall Community Hospital. Louise Lanctot spearheaded the announcement in Alexandria, with Elaine MacDonald handling things in Cornwall.

MacDonald said the regional chapter decided to make its announcement in the two locations as two of the 19 area in-person polls with the most ballots cast were at Chartrand’s Your Independent Grocer and at Tom’s Pantry— two Alexandria locations.

“It shows people are concerned. Their hospital (HGMH) had the most ER closures last year than any other hospital,” MacDonald said before announcing the local vote counts.

While workplace ballots from Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-led polling stations such as one at CCH are not yet reported, MacDonald said 4,625 ballots were cast at the 19 public polling stations in Cornwall/SDG. Of those 4,555 supported the Ontario Health Coalition’s call, with 70 opposing it.

People could also cast a ballot online, entering their postal code so the results could be sifted into the coalition’s various chapter-level results. While these ballots took longer to be counted, MacDonald said 7,261 were cast from postal codes within Cornwall/SDG, with 7,201 supporting the coalition.

Based on the Elections Ontario count for the 2022 provincial election, there were 87,263 eligible voters in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, which covers most but not all of the local health coalition’s region. Referendum turnout based on that number would be 13.6 per cent— the actual turnout was lower as that percentage doesn’t include those popular polls in Alexandria and the rest of North Glengarry.

MacDonald said the referendum was a remarkable achievement for the coalition. While updated results are scheduled to be presented at Queen’s Park Wednesday morning, she noted the provincewide count to-date had 382,647 ballots cast, with 376,223 (98.3 per cent) supporting the coalition. The number of ballots cast would be equal to 3.6 per cent of eligible voters in the 2022 Ontario election.

“This is the most grassroots… poll you can have,” MacDonald said. “It’s truly a citizens’ poll. We’re going to give (the results) to the government. May they use it for their decision-making.”

The coalition fears that Bill 60, and other recent provincial legislation, will push an ever-increasing number of health-care services out of publicly funded hospitals and into privately run, for-profit clinics. It points to recent announcements and examples of such outsourcing in Ottawa as proof its concerns are coming true.

MacDonald and Lanctot will be among those chapter chairs joining the Ontario Health Coalition at Queen’s Park on Wednesday to announce the latest provincewide results, and present the information to government.

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