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Tories pushed to revisit health care changes

Posted: December 1, 2019

(November 30, 2019)

By: Brian Kelly, The Sault Star

Ontario Health Coalition protest at Algoma University’s George Leach Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)

Ontario Health Coalition is pushing the provincial government to amend planned changes to Ontario’s health-care system.

The activist coalition wants the Progressive Conservatives to rethink what executive director Natalie Mehra calls “major health care restructuring” that includes reducing the number of health care units and ambulance services, while boosting support for autistic children, hospitals and long-term care.

A protest at Algoma University’s George Leach Centre last Saturday is one of four planned across the province by OHC. Earlier gatherings were held in Chatham and Toronto. Ottawa follows this coming weekend at TD Place Arena.

“We can afford health care for all,” said Mehra during the afternoon protest. “But we have to demand it.”

Health care improvements can be paid for, she says, by increasing the amount of tax paid by the wealthy and large corporations.

“We’re trying to put as much pressure as we can on the Ford government to stop the health care cuts,” Mehra told The Sault Star following the rally. “If people know what’s happening enough in Ontario,they will stand up and we’ll be able to stop this.”

About 120 protesters, many of them wearing pink Canadian Union of Public Employees shirts, carrying union flags and signs with messages including “Public health care for people not profit,” “Stop cutting our hospitals!” and “Save our public healthcare, no more cuts, no privitization” attended.

Seven speakers, representing areas affected by planned government actions,were meant “to really bring home what the cuts mean to people,” said Mehra.

Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha attended, as did former Sault Ste. Marie NDP candidates Sara McCleary, Celia Ross and former Sault Green candidate Kara Flannigan.

Postcards, addressed to Premier Doug Ford, were distributed to participants to sign and mail.

“It really does make a difference to stand up for these services,” said Mehra.

Ontario Health Coalition counts keeping the emergency room open at Matthews Memorial Hospital on St. Joseph Island as among its past successes.

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