‘It just absolutely can’t happen’: Aurora resident hosts virtual privatization of health care summit
Posted: May 3, 2022
(May 1, 2022)
By: Laura Broadley, The Star
Aurora resident Mary Jo Nabuurs is passionate about public health care in Ontario, so much so that she volunteers her time with the Ontario Health Coalition.
The coalition recently hosted a virtual summit, with a focus on Scarborough, Toronto and York Region, to discuss the privatization of health care in the province. The summit was in response to a comment made by Health Minister Christine Elliott at the beginning of February, in which she referenced independent health facilities.
“I remember reading somewhere that for those who have been advocates for public health care for however long, hearing those words come out of the provincial government health minister’s mouth, it was like ripping an appendage off of them,” Nabuurs said.
Nabuurs said the provincial government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made organizations such as the Ontario Health Coalition move forward because of what it describes as a problem.
“We can see the goal (of the provincial government) is to do more (privatization),” Nabuurs said. “It just absolutely can’t happen. If we allow the Ford government to get back into power in June, it’ll be really hard to defend against privatization of our health-care system.”
The coalition organized summits across Ontario to give people information about the privatization of health care.
“In this case, it’s a major issue and the health coalition and their fellow advocates believe that this is arguably the most important voting issue for June and that’s because of the impact privatizing health care will have on Ontario now and down the road,” Nabuurs said.
Nabuurs said the privatization of health care isn’t just about hospitals, but also several other aspects, including diagnostics and home care.
“They decided to offer these summits across the province to get the voices of people to stand up and get the news out to their community,” she added.
Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Elliott, said in an email the idea the provincial government is looking to allow more for-profit health care in Ontario is “categorically false.”
“Our government is committed to supporting the province’s public health-care system,” she said.
Hilkene said the Ford government has increased health-care spending to an expected $64.1 billion in 2021/2022.
“The use or function of private hospitals and independent health facilities in Ontario is not being expanded or changed,” Hikene said.
When Elliott made reference to independent health facilities and private hospitals, she was referring to the “gradual resumption of non-urgent surgeries and procedures that were delayed as part of Directive #2 at public hospitals as well as existing independent health facilities and private hospitals in Ontario,” Hilkene said.
“She did not ever suggest letting independent health facilities operate private hospitals — in fact, that is not even feasible,” Hilkene added.
Hilkene said a new license for a private hospital in Ontario has not been issued since 1973. While in 1980 there were 19 private hospitals licensed to operate in the province, there are only four today.