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Stop Ontario Tory plan to privatize healthcare

Posted: February 20, 2022

(February 18, 2022)

By: Sid Lacombe, Socialist.ca

Ontario Health Minister, Christine Elliot announced that the Tories are going to introduce private hospitals in Ontario. She said that more health services will be delivered by ‘independent’ health facilities to overcome a backlog in cases resulting from the pandemic. Those independent facilities are mainly for-profit.
This is a major assault on the public heath care system and will have devastating effects for years to come. It is a further erosion of the public system that has been reeling from cuts over the last decades. Those cuts are the reason there is a backlog. They have resulted in a system that is underfunded, understaffed and barely able to cope.
Private hospitals have been banned since 1972 but there have been many attempts to bring in private clinics for certain procedures. COVID is being used by the government as an excuse to expand the services covered by for-profit health centres.
The Tory plan will take resources out of the already underfunded public system and the result will be worse care and a further scarcity of nurses and doctors.
The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) held press conferences across the province to denounce the plan and to spread the word about their campaign to stop the privatization scheme.
At the conference, Nathalie Mehra from OHC said, “We are here to raise the alarm. This is an unprecedented privatization of our health care and plans for austerity budgets after the election will lead to more privatization if they are not stopped. It is a mortal blow to our public health system.”
Long term care
Ford has been eying private healthcare since elected and has cut healthcare funding to the lowest levels per capita in Canada.
He has recently privatized COVID testing services and announced that the government will pay for 18,000 long-term care (LTC) beds in private for-profit homes
Cathy Parkes whose father died in the for-profit Orchard Villa LTC home described the situation in the private system. She said that seniors face horrible conditions from catheters inserted improperly to 24 hour spans without food and told of seniors who died of dehydration.
But people have little choice because of cuts to the public LTC system. Many people are forced onto long wait lists which means they have to go to the worse care in the for-profit system.
Not only has Ford not stopped this he is expanding privatized care and giving money to Orchard Villa and other LTC homes. These LTCs are being rewarded for killing seniors with cash and extended operating licences.
And there is a close relationship between the Tory party and the for-profit system. For example, former Premiers, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves are both making money off the private LTC homes. Harris has $7 million in investments in LTCs alone.
Michael Hurley, President at Ontario Council of Hospital Unions said that we, “lost 4,000 residents in LTC homes during the pandemic but death rates were much higher in for-profit facilities. This case shows why for profit care doesn’t work.”
He cited a recent US study that found worse outcomes from the private system. As an example, the study found that death rates at private dialysis clinics were 8 percent higher because they were using watered down blood cleaning products to increase profits.
Hurley closed his presentation by saying, “We need a popular uprising against for profit health care.”
Crying poor
Ontario director for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Randy Robinson said that the government isn’t being truthful when they say they don’t have the money. COVID has had a tiny effect on the provincial budget because of billions in funds coming from the federal government. Revenues in Ontario are 19 billion higher than was estimated in the budget documents one year ago. The Financial Accountability Office has said that Ontario’s program spending is not keeping up with population growth and the needs of the people. It is expected that this will be worse under the next Tory budget should they win the election.
He said, “Why are you reducing revenues by 5 billion through tax cuts for the rich if you say you are so broke?” He also noted that revenues lost from the elimination of the licence plate sticker program could pay for 11,000 new nurses.
The OHC conference also outlined a campaign to push back against the Tory plan.
Mehra described it as, “the largest fightback campaign ever taken.” Emergency summits will begin soon across the province to mobilize people to stop Ford.
Canadians overwhelmingly support the public health system and will fight to stop this erosion of services. Please see: https://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca for more details.
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