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Ontario health care organization calls out Doug Ford for lying to voters

Posted: October 27, 2022

(October 26, 2022)

By: Jack Landau, blogTO

An organization that aims to protect and improve the province’s public health care system is furious with Premier Doug Ford, accusing his PC government of lying to the public about its planned privatization of Ontario’s public hospital services.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) issued a scathing brief on Wednesday, attacking the Ford government and accusing the administration of quietly expanding funding for private clinics after multiple public denials.

The Coalition asserts that the Ontario government denied funding private clinics “in written and verbal statements to media across Ontario in the months leading into the election,” charging that “after outright denial of their plans to privatize prior to the provincial election, as soon as the election was over the Ford government announced it is indeed going to privatize our public hospitals’ services.”

“The Ford government lied to the public leading into an election,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC.

“You can’t just outright deny you are expanding private for-profit clinics while you are in fact shunting millions over to expand private for-profit clinics. You can’t pretend you are not going to privatize before an election and then, as soon as the election is over, announce plans to privatize. By every measure, this is wrong. It is fundamentally undemocratic and cannot go without challenge.”

“The Ontario public will not tolerate such deception. Nor will we tolerate the Ford government failing to deal with the strain our public hospitals are under while at the same time funneling public money over to profit seeking corporations to privatize our public hospitals’ services,” she added.

It’s a bold claim, but the OHC backed up its statements that the premier and his cabinet lied to Ontarians, comparing pre- and post-election quotes from cabinet members like former Health Minister Christine Elliott, who in 2021 stated, “We are opening up pediatric surgeries, cancer screenings…Making sure that we can let independent health facilities operate private hospitals.”

It was a different story post-election, when Jones said that Ford’s government would work with private health clinics to find more “opportunities” for private companies in the public health system.

The Private Hospitals Act banned private hospitals in Ontario a half-century ago, so these statements came across as particularly curious.

Though the Minister’s spokespeople have repeatedly claimed that the Minister either misspoke or was misinterpreted, denying plans to expand private health clinics and hospitals.

The OHC’s findings include a report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario stating that in the final quarter of the 2021 fiscal year, the Ford government increased funding to private clinics by more than $13.6 million.

The allegations were aired out in a press conference on Wednesday morning, where the OHC demanded Ford immediately cease his “privatization of our public hospitals’ services and take real action to deal with the emergency in health care that his government had a significant hand in creating.”

In conjunction with the press conference, the OHC has launched a campaign to protect public hospitals, and has partnered up with Democracy Watch to call for an honesty-in-politics law that would hold political parties accountable for activities that engage in misleading the public.

“The misleading statements made by Ford government representatives before and during the 2022 provincial election about their plans for Ontario’s health care system are just one of many examples of the need for an honesty in politics law to penalize misleaders who violate voters’ rights by baiting them with false statements and election promises,” said Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher.

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