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Coalition aims to spur up debate on health care

Posted: June 15, 2017

(June 5, 2017)

By: Joseph Cattana

Kingston Health Coalition chair Matthew Gventer hopes that a larger-than-life teddy bear will get residents to ask questions about Ontario’s health-care system.

On June 6, the seven-foot-tall, five-foot-wide stuffed animal will be stationed outside Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala’s office at Bagot and Princess streets for the day while the Kingston Health coalition hands out leaflets and discusses health care.

Kingston is just one stop on the road across Ontario for the bear. The Ontario and Kingston Health Coalitions are touring the giant teddy bear — with the slogan “We Can’t Bear to Lose Medicare” — to 20 towns across the province until mid-June to raise awareness about the threat of health-care privatization.

Gventer hopes to go into Kiwala’s office at some point in the day and deliver a smaller replica of the bear.

He hopes to raise awareness for public health care in the community through this demonstration.

“Whenever given the choice to express their views on [health care], the people of Canada consistently support the values of [the public] system for the nature of Canadian society.”

In British Columbia and Quebec, private clinics and extra user fees for patients have become a major problem, threatening the single-tier public health-care system. Currently in British Columbia, private clinics have launched a court challenge to bring down the laws that protect patients from user fees.

Part of the “We Can’t Bear to Lose Medicare” demonstration is to raise visibility against the court challenge in British Columbia.

With the legal battle currently residing in the British Columbia Supreme Court, any ruling in the case could potentially set a precedent for the rest of Canada. If the courts decide in favour of doctors privately charging for services, Gventer is afraid of the potential negative impact it can cause, not only towards the Canadian Health Act but health care in Ontario.

“There would be an unequal amount of resources, and what will happen is people who have lower income will have poorer and unequal services,” Gventer said.

“In [private] health care, the costs have gone way up because of the profit motive. Services are inconsistent, you get the added cost of competition for contracts and grants. There is a lack of continuity that happens through the private system [and] we don’t want that brought into our public system.”

With a provincial election just over a year away, Gventer said the Ontario Health Coalition and its local branches are going to do their best to make health care a focal point.

“We want the provincial government to be firm on the Canadian Health Act and to support the public system. We want to make it visible to the community and the MPP that this is important to the values and nature of Canadian society,” Gventer said.

Currently, Gventer doesn’t know how many people will attend the demonstration. He hopes the bear changes that.

“If people recognized the threat, they would be out there with us. It’s not so visible, so we are trying to make visible the threat,” he said.

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