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Ontario Health Coalition to hold citizen referendum on Your Health Act in Napanee Friday and Saturday

Posted: May 23, 2023

(May 22, 2023)

By: Adam Prudhomme, The Napanee Beaver

Ontario Health Coalitions across the province will be holding a public referendum May 26 and 27 to gather public opinion on the Ontario government’s Your Health Act.

In Napanee a pair of polling stations will be set up at Metro and downtown at Dundas Street W and John Street. The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will allow anyone over the age of 16 to answer one question on the ballot: Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics? Online votes can also be cast at Voters will be asked to provide their address.

The results of the unofficial vote will be presented during a planned rally outside of Queen’s Park on May 31.

“The government ran on a platform of not bringing in for-profit healthcare, they were extremely explicit about that,” said Ross Sutherland, a co-chair of the Kingston Area Health Coalition. “Fairly shortly after that they announced plans to create these for-profit clinics and for-profit hospitals. They now just passed a bill enabling them to do that. They still haven’t done it on a large-scale expansion but they have started. We’ve got one in Kingston, which is expanding slowly and they’ve created one in Ottawa, so it’s starting. (The public referendum) is a way of asking people of ‘do you really want this?’”

The Ontario government first announced the Your Health Act in February of this year, which they say will reduce surgery wait times.

Sutherland says if nothing else he hopes their referendum will get people talking about the issue. He feels it’s already made some progress, crediting the expansion of more surgeries being offered by hospitals across the province due to the campaign.

“They have started to expand some of the surgery capacities in the hospitals and they’re doing that in a variety of ways,” said Sutherland. “In some places their opening up the day surgeries over night. Some of the other central hospitals are coordinating with sort of more regional hospitals. Ottawa’s doing that with some of the regional hospitals, they’re using the operating rooms out there for a day or two a week. I think that’s in direct response to this campaign. I think people understand there’s room available in our public hospitals to bring those wait times down, substantially to even what they were before the pandemic.”

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