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Ontario Health Coalition warns about more privatization of healthcare

Posted: February 20, 2022

(Feb. 18, 2022)

By: Lyndsay Aelick, CTV News

The Ontario Health Coalition continues to sound the alarm about healthcare privatization in the province. (Photo from video)

The Ontario Health Coalition continues to sound the alarm about healthcare privatization in the province.

Friday, the group held one of several zoom news conference events, focusing on the Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and North Shore regions.

Executive director Natalie Mehra focused on comments made by Health Minister Christine Elliott during a Feb. 1 press event.

“Making sure that we can let independent health facilities operate private hospitals,” said Elliott.

Mehra said the comments are alarming.

“What the minister just announced there is that she is going to let private clinics in Ontario — the independent health facilities, so over 97 per cent of which according to the provincial auditor are for-profit — to operate private hospitals,” she said.

“It’s a bombshell and it would be devastating at any time to our public hospital system, but at this time when we’re facing the worst staffing shortages that we have ever seen.”

Mehra said the facilities would only take profitable patients.

“So what we’re talking about are hospitals that would take the lightest, easy-care, profitable patient out of our public health care system, leaving the heavier-care patients behind with too few staff and fewer nurses even to provide for them,” she said. “That would be absolutely disastrous.”

A spokesperson from Elliott’s office said Mehra’s description is not accurate.

“Independent health facilities and private hospitals that perform publicly funded procedures already exist in Ontario,” said a statement from press secretary Alexandra Hilkene.

“Her comments were in reference to the resumption of previously scheduled non-urgent procedures that may have been paused as part of Directive No. 2.”

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas was one of the people attending the virtual event. She said privatization has been going on for a long time.

“If you remember in Sudbury people who had hip and knee surgery you would go to the hospital to have the physiotherapy,” Gelinas said.

“Now it’s not available to us anymore, you have to go into a private physiotherapy clinic in town. The independent health facilities, the IHF, are all — except for one – for-profit and they’re all biting at the bit to be allocated more cases.”

Mehra said it’s not just Elliot’s comments that have the coalition concerned. She said the privatization of surgeries and diagnostics is also listed in the province’s pandemic plan.

Coalitions across the province will be holding meetings over the coming days to further explore what this could mean for healthcare in each region.