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Coalition vows to fight health-care changes

Posted: March 27, 2019

Mar 27

Health Coalitions across the province, led by the Ontario Health Coalition, are calling for the public’s help in fighting the government omnibus Bill 74 – The People’s Health Care Act, that proposes sweeping changes to how health care is administered in Ontario.

At a town hall meeting recently hosted by the Chatham-Kent Health Coalition, Chair Shirley Roebuck talked to the 40 or so people in attendance about the need to speak up about the lack of public consultation into the omnibus bill, which she said will leave locals with no control over the health services they want and need in this community, and no funding for increased staffing.

“Our purpose is to let the people of Ontario know what is in the new health care plan because there has been no public consultation,” Roebuck said at the meeting. “This bill is poorly thought out and we believe it will not serve the people of Ontario.”

Through leaked government documents back in January, 2019, it was discovered the bill would create a new superagency called Ontario Health to replace the 14 Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) agencies and four government health agencies.

Early in March, the appointments of the board members of all of the 14 LHIN boards across the province were revoked with only a day’s notice, before Bill 74, which is currently at the committee stage, had even been passed by the Legislature.

LHINs and six agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario, the Trillium Gift of Life Network, and eHealth, have all been absorbed by the new Ontario Health.

According to information obtained from the leaked documents, frontline health care will be delivered by between 30 and 50 health teams across the province. There are no details yet, Roebuck said, about how exactly these teams will be set up.

Roebuck said Bill 74 pushes for mega-mergers to push hospitals together, and is the next step in the privatization of health care in Ontario. She said the board of Ontario Health is appointed by cabinet and will take decision-making away from local communities.

“Premier Doug Ford has given cabinet extraordinary powers to amalgamate services, close places and force mega-mergers,” Roebuck noted. “There is no end point to their power. This super agency can continue to make change with no public input. It’s like Mike Harris on steroids.”

Chatham-Kent candidate for the NDP, Jordan McGrail, attended the meeting and said since the Bill documents were leaked three weeks ago, the NDP has been trying to get debate and input in the legislature. She is concerned that Chatham-Kent is going to take a hit as a small community that will force us to go down the road to Windsor or London to get services.

“When we start privatizing our services and we start outsourcing them and do not keep them public, the driving force for those services is a profit. We want to keep our community strong, and strong hospitals support our loved ones by having strong public hospitals where the bottom line is service, not profit,” McGrail said. “When we drive for profit, we are profiting from the most vulnerable; the people that are sick, our loved ones at their most vulnerable time can’t get the service that they need. We need to fight tooth and nail to keep our services here and keep them strong.”

Roebuck talked about how the people can fight back.

“A lot of people voted for Doug Ford in good faith, but this is not partisan. This bill is bad for Ontario, bad for you and bad for your loved ones, and if you don’t do anything, bad for generations to come,” she added. “The Ontario Health Coalition is going to fight back. They don’t want you to know what’s in their bill.”

Roebuck used the example of a larger corporation putting in a bid to run all long-term care facilities when she talked about the move to privatizing health care. If they do that, she said, “there goes your choice of nursing home. Your choice is taken away.”

To fight back, the OHC and CKHC are organizing buses to go to Queen’s Park for a rally on April 30 at 12 p.m. Roebuck is hoping to fill several buses with health care workers and all people who want to say no to health care cuts and privatization.

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