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Protesters against healthcare privatization gather at Queen’s Park

Posted: September 26, 2023

(September 25 2023)

By: Samantha Lawson, CHCH News

As members of the provincial parliament returned to Queen’s Park, several thousand people gathered on the lawns outside.

They say there’s a healthcare crisis in this province, and they’re calling on Premier Doug Ford to fix it.

And advocates say the first step is reversing the government’s push for privatization.

Around 80 buses brought in several thousand people from right across the province to the rally on the lawns in front of Queen’s Park.

Earlier this year, the Ford government passed a bill allowing private, for-profit clinics to perform minor procedures like cataract surgeries, MRI and CT scans.

It’s part of the Ford government’s pledge to reduce provincial surgical backlogs.

Ontarians can use their health card to access the service, but advocates are concerned it will divert staff and government money away from the public system which is already understaffed.

“We don’t have enough nurses, enough doctors, PSWs, it is a human resource issue,” Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles said.

“Having said that, instead of putting more resources into our operating rooms, into our hospitals, into our community clinics, this government has chosen to put it in the pockets of shareholders. That’s precious dollars that need to be in healthcare.”

And the concern also spreads to local areas in the Golden Horseshoe.

“We see the wait times, we see people struggling. We know that people can’t afford to pay extra for what they need in the healthcare system,” NDP MPP for Hamilton Mountain, Monique Taylor said.

“We all work in hospitals, we see the issues that are happening. we see services leaving the hospital,” St. Joseph’s healthcare worker, Kevin Cook said.

Earlier this year, Niagara Health announced urgent care centres in Port Colborne and Fort Erie would permanently shorten their hours to close overnight in order to redeploy staff across the region.

“There shouldn’t be one hospital service closure in Niagara, in Hamilton, across Ontario. There’s no surplus capacity. So the fact that we’re seeing cuts to public hospitals, these massive, major closures like emergency departments — what could be more of an emergency than seeing 500 emergency departments close in Ontario?” Natalie Mehra from the Ontario Health Coalition said.

The opposition says they’ll continue to bring the topic up in question period.

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