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Public health care under threat says London Health Coalition

Posted: July 3, 2020

(July 2, 2020)

By: Bryan Bicknell, CTV News London

LONDON, ONT. — Demonstrators gathered outside Covent Garden Market Thursday to protest a bill they say could lead to the end of public health care as we know it.

“We’re very concerned that if home care gets privatized the last vestiges of what we have in the public system are under threat,” warned Peter Bergmanis of the London Health Coalition.

The event attracted about a dozen people. They are worried the government is attempting to push through Bill 175 in the summer, and with little notice.

Coalition spokesperson Jeff Hanks says the bill would privatize home care in the same way that long-term care has been privatized.

“For-profit nursing homes, a lot of people died. Like right now there’s a crisis in long-term care for staffing, and that’s going to be the same with home care. And if you let corporations that are driven by making a profit oversee something with no public oversight, we’re headed for another disaster.”

The coalition also claims the bill would also open the door for reintroducing private, for-profit hospital beds into public facilities.

The province has said Bill 175 will not privatize home care.

In a statement released to CTV News amid similar protests last week, a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot said the bill would “enable the delivery of flexible care models” and “in no way enables the privatization of home care.”

Similar rallies were also held at Queen’s Park and in cities across the province.

Ontario Health Coalition also takes issue with Bill 161

The legislature is also expected to vote on Bill 161 when it resumes next week, which would place limits on bringing class-action lawsuits against corporations like those that run for-profit long-term care homes.

Funding and staffing issues at long-term care homes have been blamed for significant COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths at a number of facilities in Ontario.

The pandemic has also made those issues worse, the coalition said in a statement, “Staff and families report that if anything, the staffing emergency is much worse than it was prior to COVID-19 when it was already a crisis. Overtime is off the charts. Agency staff, who travel from home to home are more common than ever. Shortages are severe across the province.”

– With files from CTV’s Amanda Taccone and CTV Kitchener

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