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Opinion | Doug Ford’s familiar refrain on private health care

Posted: August 31, 2022

(August 30, 2022)

By: Paul Kahnert in the Hamilton Spectator

Doug Ford is following the usual Tory script to privatize health care in Ontario.

First, as John Snobelen of the Harris government said, “you have to create a crisis.” The COVID crisis is tailor made.

Taking advantage of or creating a crisis is only the first part of the plan. Then they will claim the public system is broken and we need private sector “innovation” to fix it. They are already making this claim. Health minister Sylvia Jones has claimed decades of inaction has caused the health care crisis as well as constantly repeating “the status quo isn’t working.” The facts are that decades of underfunding and cuts to pay for revenue shortfalls, caused by Tory tax cuts, is the untold truth about the health care crisis.

As well as endlessly using the word “innovation,” watch for the promise of “increased efficiencies.” They will then make a big deal out of the word “choice.” People should have the right to “choose” their health care provider and choose how they get their health care needs met. 

It was once unthinkable that our non-profit public power hydro system would be turned into a for-profit system. While making the false claim that the public system was bankrupt and endlessly promising “lower rates and increased efficiencies,” the Harris Conservatives turned every publicly owned hydro commission in the province into a for-profit corporation. Everyone knows how those promises worked out. This is the plan they used to mislead the people and conduct the heist of Ontario’s Hydro system. To this day no one has been held accountable for that failed scheme.

Tax cuts, cutting red tape and “innovation” make for nice sound bites, but the reality is those Conservative policies make us all much poorer.

The Conservatives are largely to blame for this crisis that they created with funding cuts to pay for tax cuts. When you think about it, it should be illegal. It is important to note that the tax cuts and cuts to health care made by the Harris Conservatives in the 1990s resulted in the loss of over 10,000 nurses. It was a loss the health-care system never recovered from.

Just how are private owners going to staff their clinics with doctors and nurses? There is only one way, pay a premium to lure them away from the public system and then charge more so they can make a profit off of them. 

Will care or profit be the primary concern? As Peter Tabuns interim leader of the NDP says, “private owners are in it to make a buck. “

Since 1980, the wealthiest people and their corporations have successfully lobbied Conservative governments for massive tax cuts in the multiple billions.

What we really need to do to fix our health-care system is to reverse tax cuts. Reversing tax cuts on the wealthy and their corporations is not raising taxes, it is restoring funding to build and pay for a civil society.

History will judge us poorly If we don’t act to stop the theft of our health-care system. Contact the Ontario Health Coalition to find out how you can help stop this. 

We have decades of proof, public universal health care works when properly funded. Our very lives depend on it

Paul Kahnert was spokesperson for Ontario Electricity Coalition which fought Mike Harris’s bid to privatize hydro 

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