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Renfrew County Health Coalition sounds alarm over Bill 60 and private healthcare

Posted: May 20, 2023

(May 19, 2023)

By: Pembroke Observer and News

Some Renfrew County residents are calling code red on the healthcare system proposed by the province’s Bill 60, which they believe allows for private companies to arrange healthcare services with less qualified health caregivers, less transparency and less accountability.

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“When our public hospitals and clinics become private, it won’t be nonprofits such as the VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) and the Salvation Army running them – it will be for-profit businesses. That is not well understood by all.” said Leona Haley, chairperson of the Renfrew County Health Coalition.

Haley said consistent underfunding of the public healthcare system by the present provincial government has left Ontario with the lowest funding for public hospitals, in addition to the fewest nurses per patient in Canada.

Thousands of residents across the province and a third of the residents in Renfrew County are without family doctors, in part due to this underfunding, she continued. Healthcare workers are overworked from inadequate staffing all while there is a historical shortage of long term care beds for our senior citizens.

“Residents need to understand that more corporations will make a profit from our residents’ failing health as further privatization occurs. Even the scenes from Ontario’s private for-profit long term care during the pandemic can become a reality here,” Haley said.

Years before Ottawa Valley hospitals charged for parking, bigger centres had been, Haley said. “Likewise, for years Ottawa clinics have been offering less complicated surgeries such as cataract removal. As a result there are fewer surgeons to perform them in Renfrew County hospitals, our waitlists lengthened and local residents began driving to Ottawa for the service. The surgeries are paid by OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) as they should. However, patients are unnecessarily charged for medical testing and products,” a press release from the  Renfrew County Health Coalition stated.

Haley said the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) provides strong evidence that the ultimate goal of Bill 60 is to privatize healthcare further.

From now until May 27, a non-partisan group of concerned Renfrew County residents are holding a referendum initiated by the OHC. All provincial political parties have been invited to promote this referendum.

There is one simple yes or no question on the ballot: Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?

Ontario residents 16 years-of-age and older can voice their opinion by voting in the referendum. Booths will be set up throughout the county in Renfrew, Cobden, Pembroke and Barry’s Bay, to name a few. Volunteers will be hosting voting booths in work places, malls, stores, churches and community events. There will also be an option to vote online if you choose.

“We wouldn’t have serious surgery without a consultation. We are requesting the consultation that the public was not offered from the government before we allow the government to profit from patients’ needs,” Haley said.

LINK TO vote, volunteer, donate or find more information 

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