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Coalition rallying to guard public health care, The Sarnia Observer, September 20, 2018

Posted: September 20, 2018

Coalition rallying to guard public health care

Local Ontario Health Coalition chapters looking for funding to attend Oct. 23 rally at Queen’s Park

Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director Natalie Mehra was in Sarnia in May as part of a provincial tour calling for more investment in hospitals and long-term care. The health coalition is holding a rally at Queen’s Park Oct. 23. Tyler Kula/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network

Concerned about potential cuts to health-care as Ontario’s Doug Ford government looks to rein in spending, the Ontario Health Coalition is planning a rally at Queen’s Park next month.

“We don’t want to see any of our public health-care services privatized,” said Shirley Roebuck, representing the Sarnia-Lambton, Wallaceburg-Walpole Island First Nation, and Chatham-Kent health coalition chapters.

“People pay enough in taxes and they shouldn’t have to be exposed to having to pay anything more for health-care services,” she said.

More details are expected about the Progressive Conservative plan for health-care in the coming days, she said, noting the results of a financial review were expected to be announced Friday.

Concerns are the government will use the audit to hype the bad state of government finances, and use that to justify cutting loose parts of the public health-care system, she said.

Ford announced in July former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell would head the independent inquiry into the previous Liberal government’s spending.

Ford has also pledged the Commission of Inquiry will build on the work of provincial Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, who said in April the deficit for 2018/19 is nearly $12 billion, and had been understated by the Liberals.

Health coalition executive director Natalie Mehra has noted Campbell’s track record of cuts in government suggests the PCs are positioning for cuts as well.

She goes over, in a Sept. 11 blog post, how the new Ontario government has already pared back OHIP+ and mental health funding, and cancelled the basic income pilot project.

“Many of the cuts (target) programs and initiatives that create equity and alleviate poverty,” she wrote.

But, Ford has also pledged to end hallway medicine and has promised not to privatize health care, Mehra says.

“So let’s hold him to that,” she says. “Let’s organize in a way that cannot be ignored.”

The local health coalition chapters are looking for funding help get a bus to get to Toronto for the Oct. 23 rally, Roebuck said. Anyone interested can call her at 226-402-2724.

“The Sarnia-Lambton Health Coalition would be very grateful for any donations,” she said.

With files from the Canadian Press