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Group aims to raise awareness about the risks of health-care privatization

Posted: June 15, 2017

(June 10, 2017)

By: Mandy Marciniak, Kingston Heritage

“We can’t ‘bear’ to lose Medicare.”

That is the message the Ontario Health Coalition is bringing with them across the province this month, and on June 6, they brought it to Kingston.

“We are doing a tour to let people know about the threat to health care in Canada from privatization,” said Peter Boyle, a member of the Ontario Health Coalition and Kingston resident. “If allowed to go the way some want it to go, privatization will erode health care in Canada as we know it.”

To help spread the word, Boyle and the coalition are travelling with a seven-foot tall companion they hope will grab the attention of community members.

“The bear is something to attract people’s attention. The health coalition had a giant rocking chair for long-term care awareness and that really attracted people’s attention. So, we wanted something similar,” he said. “We call the bear Tommy, because Tommy Douglas was the institutor of Medicare in Canada 49 years ago in Saskatchewan and we want that system to continue.”

While charging Canadians for necessary health procedures is illegal in Canada, more and more clinics are popping up offering cataract surgery or MRIs at a cost. The clinics are appealing to some, as they mean that long lines can be cut, but many see it as undercutting the Canadian Medicare system.

“We want to tell people what is going on, and that these private clinics and the provincial governments are letting things sneak through,” said Boyle. “One of the main planks of Canadian Medicare is that nobody has to pay fees for a medically needed procedure and it is illegal to charge fees, yet some provinces have let them slide in.”

Boyle has had a number of encounters with the current Medicare system in Kingston, and a few years ago, he underwent two hip replacements at Hotel Dieu.

“They said I needed one in three months and then the other within a year, and they were great. I had the second within six months,” he said. “I needed it and the health-care system worked the way it was supposed to, and I want to see that continue for others.”

Members of the Ontario Health Coalition will visit 20 cities in total in the coming weeks and are purposefully holding gatherings outside of MPP offices.

“People like MPPs can make a difference in these discussions,” said Boyle. “But, overall, we just want to raise awareness, and so far we have seen a lot of community members that are interested and often surprised.”

Boyle encourages those who are concerned to talk to their MPP and other community members about what they feel needs to happen.

“Our health-care system isn’t perfect, but people do cherish it and want to see the service continue, and not have it privatized.”

For more information about the We Can’t ‘Bear’ to Lose Medicare campaign, visit

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