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Ballots for health-care referendum coming to Cornwall and area

Posted: May 16, 2023

(May 15, 2023)

By: Todd Hambleton, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

Local organizers of what’s being called the people’s referendum on the privatization of public hospitals in Ontario say about 5,000 ballots are being distributed to workplaces in the lead-up to the May 26-27 event.

“This is important for two reasons (including access to ballots),” said Louise Lanctot, joined by Elaine MacDonald – they’re co-chairs of the SDG/Cornwall Health Coalition – at a rally held on Friday afternoon in downtown Cornwall that attracted about 50 coalition members and supporters. “(Those receiving ballots will also) be bringing the news about this back to their communities.”

It was announced in mid-April at a rally in front of Cornwall Community Hospital that over 20 poll sites will be set up across Cornwall and area for a citizen-led referendum in response to the Ontario government’s Bill 60. That bill was passed last week at Queen’s Park; the Ontario Health Coalition says it legitimizes the transfer of health-care services from public non-profit hospitals to for-profit hospitals and clinics.

At the most recent rally in Cornwall, in front of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry MPP Nolan Quinn’s office, Lanctot and MacDonald said the coalition has been getting some pushback from the Doug Ford Conservative government, which they say makes it even more important for people to have a say in the matter.

“We the people know what’s going on (in health care), we have the experience with it,” Lanctot said. (The government narrative that) there’ll be no extra charges (as a result of privatization) is patently false.”

Said MacDonald: “We all know it’s about the money. With Bill 60, the whole balance is being skewed. This is about nothing but money – money will determine the kind of care you get.”

MacDonald said privatization of hospital services was not on the 2022 provincial ballot, “and in fact the premier denied any intention of bringing it in while he was campaigning.

“Well, supporters of public health care and public hospitals across Ontario are putting it on a ballot now and on May 31, they will converge on Toronto to deliver the ballots to Queen’s Park.”

Organizers say many of the polls will be walk-up or drive-through, and that voters will sign an attestation they are at least 16 years of age and will only vote once, providing their postal code for proof of Ontario residency.

The polls are among 1,000 identified across the province, and with the goal of one million votes.

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