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Province-wide vote on healthcare privatization to move forward despite Bill 60 being set to pass next week

Posted: May 5, 2023

(May 4th, 2023)

By: Casey Taylor, City News Kitcherner

Health coalitions across Ontario continue to gear-up for a province-wide vote on healthcare privatization later this month despite the bill their fighting being expected to pass in a vote at Queen’s Park next week. The Ontario Health Coalition has released a list of the first 500 voting stations for its so-called ‘people’s referendum’, which is currently scheduled to run May 26-27. It includes at least 34 locations in Waterloo Region; 10 each in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge along with one each in New Dundee, Baden, Heidelberg, and St. Jacobs.

The coalition contends Bill 60, the ‘Your Health Act’, will effectively ensure healthcare in Ontario will cost more, deliver less, and take even longer to access. It also claims Ontario voters never got a say.

“[More healthcare privatization] wasn’t discussed in the last election; in fact, the [Doug] Ford Government denied they were going to privatize,” said Jim Stewart, Chair, Waterloo Region Health Coalition. “They denied it and then, after the election, made a complete U-turn.” Stewart further suggested, while the question may have been asked and answered during the most recent election cycle, the answer given was a lie.

“Mr. Ford has had this agenda right from the get-go,” he said. “They had this plan, they just denied it because of the political reality of going into the election, and we really believe this is something that has to be challenged.” It’s a claim which echoes criticisms from Ontario’s opposition parties which have also maintained a belief the push for more privatization was premeditated.

“We’d love to see the mandate letter for the Minister of Health,” said Catherine Fife, the NDP MPP for Waterloo, referencing a case since escalated to the Supreme Court in which the Government of Ontario is arguing against an order from the information and privacy commissioner for it to release its ministerial marching orders. “The government has lost this court case now, I believe, three times and is still fighting the release of these mandate letters,” Fife continued. “It just speaks to the lack of transparency of this government and, really, a lack of trust that the people of this province have in Doug Ford.”

Bill 60, meantime, is expected to go to a vote in the legislature on Monday and Fife did acknowledge the opposition parties are relatively powerless to stop it from passing.

“[The Tories] have a super majority and they are using their super majority to railroad over the healthcare rights of Ontario citizens,” she said, adding she believes, once passed, it may still face a number of potential legal challenges. “We’re [also] going to be making a commitment, of course, to repeal this legislation as soon as possible.”

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