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‘The people have spoken’: Windsor-Essex voters opposed to privatized health care, according to OHC survey

Posted: May 31, 2023

(May 30, 2023)

By: Chris Campbell, CTV News Windsor

Almost 99 per cent of voters in Windsor and Essex County are opposed to privatization of public hospitals, according to the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) referendum results revealed Tuesday morning.

Since April, the citizen-led group had been asking Ontarians to vote in person or online answering if they want public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics.

“In this referendum, the people have spoken,” said Patrick Hannon, co-chair of the Windsor-Essex chapter of the OHC.

Hannon said 98.8 per cent of people in just Windsor opposed privatizing public hospital services, with a total of 5,286 votes cast across the entire Windsor-Essex catchment area last week.

“When the number of ballots, the number of people opposed to privatization, when that is presented to the government, politicians need to hear what their constituents have to say,” Hannon said. “We’ve been very successful with showing the government the results and we anticipate to doing so again with this referendum.”

The vote was in response to the Ford Government’s implementation of Bill 60, which the advocacy group worries will only work for relatively healthy people, and those who can afford it.

They said there’s concern it could lead to people with minimal training put into health care positions.

“We also have not seen any piece in the legislation where there is a budget attached to the enforcement of the private clinic certifications, there’s language for enforcement. We don’t see a budget line item for this yet. And it’s not real, unless there’s money put to that,” Hannon said.

The OHC believes the Ford government will be forced to acknowledge the results, or potentially face fallout at the ballot box in the next three years.

Full results of the province wide campaign are expected to be announced and presented to the government at Queens Park on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford dismissed the OHC’s work.

“I don’t call it a referendum, it was a political poll that was driven one sided,” Ford said on Monday.

He had his own thoughts on how the survey question should have been presented.

“Do you want to wait in line for a hip replacement that could take 18 months?” asked Ford. “Or would you like something that could be done in 60 days from the exact same doctor in a surgical clinic, in a centre?”

Meanwhile, a health ethics, law and policy professor at Western University in London, Ont., told CTV News surveys like this one are important public opinion measures.

“It shows that Ontarians are really not interested in the approach that Doug Ford is taking to privatize health care,” said Jacob Shelley.

“And without these types of measures or initiatives, we have a void. We don’t know exactly what people are thinking. So this definitely gives us important context that people aren’t actually happy with what Doug Ford is doing.”

Shelley expressed concern over the premier’s dismissive response.

“The government represents the people and the people are speaking and the government is choosing to ignore the people that are speaking by ignoring the results of these studies,” Shelley said.

“We know the public system is a more effective, more efficient and more equitable system. The privatized world does benefit some people. There’s no question that there are benefits for some individuals, but it’s not an equitable benefit. It’s not a public benefit. It benefits those that have wealth, those that have opportunity and those that profit from illness and now we have to really question a government that’s making health care profitable. What actual kind of consideration this government might have to ensuring that we remain healthy.”

Shelley added, “This is just not politically justified nor is this something that is evidentiary justified. This is merely opportunities to make people money.”

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