Referendum on Ontario Bill 60 coming to Cornwall-SDG
Posted: March 22, 2023
(March 20, 2023)
By: Greg Peerenboom, Special to the Standard-Freeholder
PHOTO BY GREG PEERENBOOM /Greg Peerenboom/Special to the Standard-Freeholder
It would ask participating Ontarians whether they oppose privatization of the province’s public health-care system.
The group met in the upstairs, public area of the Benson Centre, and were told by co-organizer Elaine MacDonald the importance of Bill 60 would normally require months of consultations before a vote in the legislature took place.
Instead, the legislation is expected to pass within several weeks, after having been introduced last month. MacDonald described Bill 60 as “alien to the Canadian (health-care) landscape.”
She said Bill 60’s two-fold approach of allowing more for-profit clinics while enticing nurses from other provinces is a “smoke and mirrors show.”
MacDonald claimed there would not be enough out-of-province nurses, so the shortfall could result in further hollowing out of hospitals.
As an example, she said the Riverside campus of The Ottawa Hospital has seen a privately run clinic start using operating rooms on weekends to perform certain surgeries; its ‘hefty’ compensation is luring nurses away from their other jobs.
MacDonald described this scenario as criminal as it goes against the Canada Health Act that requires province’s offer only publicly funded health care.
Bill 60, she said, is a continuation of the strangulation of taxpayer-funded institutions in favour of tax cuts. After explaining the current and foreseeable repercussions, MacDonald and co-organizer Louise Lanctot discussed, with feedback from attendees, on running the plebiscite.
One attendee questioned whether the provincial government would even acknowledge the results, citing the Ontario Legislature only formally recognizes petitions. MacDonald said she believed the strong opposition, regardless of how this is achieved, would be too politically dangerous to ignore.
“We have two months before that, to get signs out, go door-to-door, so we have to have a commitment for volunteers to sign up,” Lynch said.
The organizers are currently setting up voting locations throughout the city and the counties. Because it does not have a formal organization, its finances will be operated through the Cornwall & District Labour Council.
MacDonald, although a long-time NDP member and candidate, stressed the health coalition is non-partisan. She noted former candidates from other political parties were in attendance.
A fundraising chicken dinner on April 23 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 294 in Cornwall is being organized to help offset costs.