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New coalition advocating for public hospitals in Renfrew county

Posted: April 28, 2023

(April 27, 2023)

By: Derek Dunn, Arnprior Chronicle-Guide

The Ford government’s significant privatization of Ontario hospital services at some locations has prompted the creation of a new organization in Renfrew county, and it wants citizen input on a “referendum.”

The PC plan to use specialized private clinics to reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements, cataract surgeries, colonoscopies, MRIs and CT scans follows from the move, in recent years, to have for-profit companies offer diagnostic labs, long-term care facilities and home-care services.

MPP John Yakabuski didn’t respond to a question about the likelihood of private hospitals in the county. The Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP didn’t respond to a request for an interview on the creation of the local coalition and its claim that his PC government is rushing legislation without proper input from the public.

Critics say the government is using its majority to starve the public sector of funding, thus creating a problem for the private sector to solve. Some nurses, who say they are overworked and underpaid, are morphing to private contractors for work. Some operating rooms in Ontario, including all in Renfrew county, are open only half days due to lack of funding.

It has sparked a level of seriousness and urgency that had Leona Haley and others form the Renfrew County Health Coalition, a chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition. The non-profit and non-partisan organization has created a “community-run referendum” for May 26 and 27.

“This is too important of an issue to leave up to the rest of Ontario,” Haley said. “Renfrew county residents need to become involved. The referendum will have voting booths (in public locations) and online. We can’t leave it up to residents in other parts of the province to decide.”

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