Opponents speak out against Bill 60 at public hearings
Posted: March 22, 2023
Opponents of Bill 60 are getting their chance to voice concerns directly to the government.
A legislative committee began three days of hearings on Monday on the proposal to expand the role of private health care clinics.
The Ford government sees them helping to reduce the surgical backlog.
The Ontario Health Coalition’s Natalie Mehra says it is a move to privatize hospitals.
“The government has no mandate for it. In the lead into the election, the ministry spokesperson literally said, ‘I categorically deny that we are privatizing the hospitals’ or ‘that we have any intention to expand the private hospitals and private clinics.’ That was two months before the election,” says Mehra.
“And then two months after the election, the government announced their plans to privatize the hospitals. That is not acceptable. This is a democracy. Public hearings should be fundamental to parliamentary democracy. It matters. Most governments actually amend legislation after hearing from people. This has not happened for any of the major health care bills.”
‘The Ford government sees them helping to reduce the surgical backlog.
Mehra says it can be done differently.
“We have operating rooms in virtually every hospital that are closed for days, weeks, months at a time, even permanently, due to underfunding of those hospitals. Most hospitals would have most of their operating rooms operate only from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.”
“They close at night, they close on the weekends. Just by expanding the use of the existing public operating rooms, this government could, in a very short period of time, clear the backlog of surgical delays and obviously also increasing the use of MRIs and CTs in our public hospitals to their capacity.”
Sara Labelle, the chair of the Hospital Professionals Division for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, agrees.
“If we wanted to fix the problem, we could do it by expanding the services and funding them in the public hospitals. We have the infrastructure. We have the staff in those areas and recruit the workers back.”
The proposed legislation does have the support of the Ontario Medical Association.
Executive Director Allen O’Dette says it is the right thing to do.
“It helps reduce wait times, which is critical both for the health of patients and for the health of the system that cares for them. We believe it’ll free up hospital resources to focus on emergency, acute, and complex cases while relieving some capacity issues that are big and they’re real,” says O’Dette.
Doctors also support the legislation for the same region.
President of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Rose Zacharias, says community surgery centres can treat patients in numbers that can’t be achieved in a hospital setting.
“Doctors have been strongly advocating for solutions to eliminate surgical backlogs and reduce wait times which were a major concern even before the pandemic. No patient should be waiting months or years for a surgery that they need,” says Dr. Zacharias.
The medical profession is looking for better clarification in the wording to allow health care workers from other provinces to work in Ontario with prior approval from the regulatory bodies.
The provincial Standing Committee on Social Policy will conclude hearings on the Bill on Monday.
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