Fight health-care privatization – Giroux
Posted: April 21, 2022
(April 19, 2022)
By: PJ Wilson, North Bay Nugget
People across the province have to act now to make sure no provincial government, whatever stripe, brings in private health care, the president of the North Bay and District Health Coalition said Tuesday.
Henri Giroux said Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, in an announcement Feb. 1, said the province was looking at introducing private hospitals, a “mind-boggling” move which goes against the Canada Health Act.
“They want to bring private hospitals and private clinics into Ontario.”
He said other provinces have introduced private clinics and private hospitals, but foes of the move “are winning in court” cases brought against their governments.
“Privatization is a Conservative thing,” Giroux said, saying the Doug Ford government has announced it wants to build 35,000 new long-term care beds over the next few years, but that 18,000 of those beds will go to private companies.
“It’s not a good idea,” he said, pointing out that the majority of COVID-19 deaths in the province since the pandemic was declared two years ago occurred in privately owned and operated long-term care residences.
The Ford government, he said, is also planning to move home care from public to private at the same time.
Companies “bid on these contracts, and private bids are lower because they employ lower-paid people.”
Kaarina Tulisalo, a supporter and “concerned citizen,” said what struck her most was that the contracts which would go to the companies are 30-year contracts.
“That startled me,” she admitted. “I don’t know of any areas or groups that can get contracts for 30 years.”
The move, she said, reinforces the province’s emphasis on “bricks and mortar” over the welfare of the residents.
“They are focused on warehousing seniors.
“One of the things Canadians are proud of is the public health-care system. But we need to be vigilant. There are signs of it being chipped away.”
The move toward privatization, Giroux said, includes a move to have private companies conduct COVID-19 testing, at $400 a test.
“This is all against the Canada Health Act,” Giroux said. “We are hoping the feds get involved and stop that.”
But Giroux also said the recently formed North Bay Health Coalition – part of the Ontario Health Coalition – is not just taking aim at the Progressive Conservative government.
“We are against any government” enacting these measures, he said.
The local health coalition has launched a campaign “to tell the government that they want to see” health care remain public, with no further privatization.
The campaign, launched Tuesday, will continue until after the June 2 provincial election.
The health coalition is urging people to order lawn and window signs and large stickers saying “Don’t privatize our health care” and “Care can’t wait.”
“It will give (candidates) the idea that we are in favour of public health care,” Giroux said.
“It tells candidates we are not in favour of privatizing the health care system. When candidates come to your door, tell them what we want (health care) to look like.”
He said a local warning sign is the North Bay Regional Health Centre, which was built as a public-private partnership (P3) facility, and “a couple of years after it was built there were layoffs and bed closures.”
The hospital, he said, “still has to pay stakeholders” first, and to do that some services, such as beds, have had to be cut.
At long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, “the stakeholders get paid, no matter what.”
He also attacked a provincial plan, shelved since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, that would have seen the 54 health units across the province reduced to 35. The five health units in Northeastern Ontario, such as the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, would have been amalgamated into one.
That, he warned, “could still happen.
“Can you imagine what would have happened if that had been done through covid?” he asked. “One health unit in Northeastern Ontario. It’s not feasible to do it. I hope the government recognizes now the importance of health units and leaves it alone.”
The signs and stickers can be ordered through the North Bay and District Health Coalition’s Facebook page.