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Londoners hit the road to protest health care cuts

Posted: April 29, 2019

Londoners will join Ontarians from towns and cities across the province at Queens Park in an effort to protect public health care from recent cuts announced by the provincial government.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) is organizing a rally at the Ontario Legislature for Tuesday at noon, which is expected to attract thousands of concerned citizens from around the province.

Since the provincial health cuts were announced, the OHC said its offices have been consistently fielding calls from those who are worried about the dismantling of Cancer Care Ontario, the closure of pain clinics, cuts to diabetes management, cuts to autism care, reducing the number of Public Health Units, reducing the number of local ambulance services, and the and the dismantling of the Trillium organ donation system.

Jeff Hanks, a co-chair of the London Health Coalition, said any cuts to public health care could be detrimental, especially with the potential for flu and measles outbreaks. He added that the planned cuts to health care will only exasperate cuts made by the previous Liberal government.

“For five years in a row, hospitals got zero per cent and they ended up cutting over $200 million just from London’s hospitals alone,” said Hanks. “To take another billion dollars out — it’s just insane… we can’t cut anymore and to not even consult the people that are on the frontlines. It’s scary.”

London alone has lost 2,000 hospital beds since the 1990s and Hanks called the Ford government’s plans an “unprecedented attack on public health care”.

“We just need everyone in Ontario to stand up and say this is wrong,” he said. “We have a lot at stake, we have a lot to lose.”

Hanks also cited a lack of transparency on the part of the Ford government as a significant concern for health advocates.

“The [Local Health Integration Networks] were supposed to give us notice before public meetings when the board was meeting, they were supposed to post the minutes after they have a meeting, they were supposed to maintain the principals of the Ontario Health Act, and try to deliver service based on population need,” he said. “The government has taken away all of that.”

He said the government’s new amalgamated “super agency”  will meet in secret, it will not have to disclose when a meeting is being held, and it does not have to inform the public about what is discussed during those meetings.

“It’s really a really alarming change and there is so little public consultation,” he said.

The possible privatization of health care services has also become a significant concern for advocates of public health. Hanks said for-profit privatization would be detrimental to health care in the province.

“They’ve done this experiment in Britain and it’s been a disaster. The private sector administrative costs end up eating so much out of the public sector that they can’t provide the same level of service,” he said. “I think Canadians value that all of us are treated equally and health care is the big income equality equalizer… If we don’t have a lot of money, at least we don’t have to pay out of pocket for health care and the rich don’t usually get to the front of the line. ”

Anyone in London who would like to attend the rally at Queens Park is asked to contact Hanks at 226-448-3067 or Peter Bergmanis at 519-860-4403 for more information. A bus will be leaving the southwest corner of Masonville Mall at 8:30 a.m.

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