‘Everything doesn’t have to be monetized’: Simcoe County Health Coalition hosting referendum on privatization
Posted: April 19, 2023
(April 18, 2023)
By: Chris Simon, The Barrie Advance
Marilyn Corbett has a deep and personal connection to Ontario’s health-care system.
The Utopia resident’s husband was treated for cancer at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) before he died in 2015. And there are several nurses in her family.
That reliance on public health care by Corbett and her family members is why she’s choosing to participate in the Ontario Health Coalition’s provincewide referendum on the privatization of core hospital services. On May 26 and 27, the coalition’s nearly 500 affiliated organizations will set up more than 1,000 voting stations across Ontario.
In the Barrie area, the Simcoe County Health Coalition is taking the lead, and members launched their local awareness campaign outside RVH on April 18.
“Public health care’s very important to me,” said Corbett, a high school teacher who was bundled in a tuque and gloves and carrying a sign. “It’s something we all need to be fighting for. RVH is important to me because they looked after my husband. Health care is something we all need. It should be public. It shouldn’t be like the (United) States, where people are bankrupted because they need treatment. Everything doesn’t have to be monetized.”
About 15 people participated in the RVH launch, though they were joined by hundreds of others at locations throughout Ontario.
During the referendum, stations will be set up outside grocery and corner stores, coffee shops, community centres and Royal Canadian Legion branches. Leading in, throughout the month of May, some workplaces will host voting and an online option will be available at publichospitalvote.ca.
“We all have personal stories about why we have decided to join together for this cause,” nurse and Simcoe County coalition co-chair Anisa Carrascal said. “In 12 years of practice in the health-care system, I have seen nurse-to-patient ratios grow to unattainable numbers. I have seen my co-workers get injured or burnt out and leave the profession in droves. The result of chronic underfunding is severe understaffing that makes working conditions unsafe and lowers the quality of care for patients.”
Carrascal warns against two-tier health care, a system in place in her native country of Peru, which she notes has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world.
“I have seen many of my compatriots die because they couldn’t afford to pay the exorbitant costs of a bed in a private clinic or (for) an oxygen tank,” she said. “That is what a two-tiered system really looks like. When you need health care the most, you’re out of luck if you don’t have the big bank account.”
In mid-January, Ontario unveiled plans to expand the number of surgeries that can be done through privately operated community surgical and diagnostic centres.
The government said this decision is necessary to reduce wait times and eliminate the surgical backlog of about 206,000 Ontarians — that number was roughly 200,000 prior to the pandemic — and it pledged to “protect the stability” of health human resources at public hospitals.
“When it comes to your health, the status quo is no longer acceptable,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement released at the time. “Our government is taking bold action to reduce wait times for surgeries, all while ensuring Ontarians use their OHIP card to get the care they need, never their credit card.”
This plan also lets hospitals focus effort and resources on more complex and high-risk surgeries, he said.
More details on the referendum can be found at ontariohealthcoalition.ca.