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URGENT UPDATE: FORD GOV’T SWEEPING HEALTH CARE RESTRUCTURING BILL

Posted: March 27, 2019

Ford government gives 2-days notice for public hearings to be in Toronto only
The new health care law that the Ford government is pushing through has been “time allocated” for public hearings. That means that the Ford Conservatives have limited the time for public hearings. We have been asking for broad public hearings on this sweeping legislation, After all, it impacts 1,800+ local health care service providers and all of our health care from hospitals to nursing homes, home care to mental health care, addictions and community care, community health centres, palliative care, non-profit family health teams, cancer care, organ donation, quality reporting and more. The NDP wrote to the government and asked for public hearings across the province. Instead they have opted for minimal public hearings (2 part days) with almost no notice and in Toronto only. This was decided yesterday late afternoon and the deadline is tomorrow at noon.
 
The Ford government has limited public hearings to 2 part-days in Toronto only. You must get in your request to present at the hearings by THURSDAY (at noon). 
The hearings aren’t even up yet on the Standing Committee website but the deadline to apply for standing is a day and a half from now.
This process is appallingly undemocratic.
Previous legislation was subject to actual public consultation. It was not perfect — in fact far from it —  but in every previous case of health care restructuring, there has been more public input, more democratic protections, more process, more access to information. This Bill was written in secret with no public consultation. Now it is being steamrolled through with minimal notice and minimal public hearings. The legislation itself wipes out all pre-existing public input, appeals and public interest protections in health care restructuring from existing and previous laws.
 
Sweeping new powers to force through mega-mergers, transfer services from one community to another, close services, privatize services
The new law gives sweeping powers to the Minister and the government appointees in their new Super Agency to force through mergers, mega-mergers, amalgamations, transfers of services, closures of local services, and entire closures of service providers. In five separate areas in the legislation these restructuring powers enable the government, its appointees, and health service providers to transfer our public and non-profit health care services to for-profit companies. Already for-profit hospital companies are making bids to take over surgeries in London Ontario.
Unfettered powers to force health care providers to restructure, close, privatize
The legislation allows the Minister and the government appointees that run their new Super Agency the power to order, direct and coerce through funding power, local providers of service to comply with these restructuring edicts and pressures. It does this in multiple sections of the legislation. In most of these sections there is no fetter on these extraordinary powers and no public process. It takes away any last vestiges of local control over health care.
No public interest protections, no appeals, no access to information, no clear rulings: worst ever
There are no public interest protections in the legislation. There is no public notice at all for most of the sections that give new restructuring powers. There is minimal public notice in one section. There is no right to appeal anywhere in the legislation. There is no public access to documents anywhere in the legislation. The new Super Agency is not subject even to the conflict of interest rules of the Ontairo Public Service. There are no principles to guide restructuring. There is no requirement that any one, not the Minister, not the Super Agency, no one, actually measure and plan to meet population need for health care, protect any local health services at all, ensure that patients have access to care,  worry about the workforce that will be subject to massive upheaval. There are no procedural protections.
With the way the Ford government chose to write this legislation, and given all the public interest protections they chose to strip out of it, there is no longer any shadow of doubt. The fight to protect public non-profit health care is on. The fight to protect local services from centralization and mega-mergers is on. The fight to stop billions of public dollars from being wasted in restructuring and turmoil is on. Without exaggeration, it is the most dangerous health care legislation in terms of privatization and risks to local services we have ever read, and it has the fewest public protections ever. 
 
More resources: 
We have produced briefing notes and media releases and other information and resources for you on this new law. You can find all of these on our website here: https://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/index.php/safeguard-health/
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You can take action that matters now. 
Please apply for standing to make a presentation at the public hearings. Let them know that the public cares about this issue and wants to have a say.
You have one day only to ask to make a presentation. Please do it right away. 
This is what you say: “I would like to apply for a spot to make a presentation on Bill 74.”  If you do not live in Toronto, the government will have to take measures to include you by phone or video link if you are selected to make a presentation. (There are only a few spots since they have cut the hearings to so little time so you may not be selected, but we are still asking you to apply so that they know how much the public cares about this.)
We will send out our submission and recommended amendments tomorrow. If you need help making a submission please call or email me and we will support you to do this.
Thank you. The information is below —
Natalie
 
Bill 74 referred Standing Committee on Social Policy
[all deadlines HARD]
Committee contact info: comm-socialpolicy@ola.org | 416.325.3506) 
This is the email and phone number you can use to ask to make a presentation to the Standing Committee as per our note above.  
Deadline to request to appear: Thu 28 Mar, 12:00pm 
 
PUBLIC HEARINGS (two part-days)
·       Mon 1 Apr – 9:00-10:00 a.m. AND 2:00-6:00 p.m.
·    Tue 2 Apr – 9:00-10:00 a.m. AND 2:00-6:00 p.m.
 Witnesses to receive up to eight (8) minutes for presentation followed by twelve (12) minutes of questions by Committee members from recognized parties (six minutes each for NDP, PCs)
Deadline for Written Submissions: Tue 2 Apr, 6:00pm
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Please don’t forget: 
 Mass Rally to Protect Public Health Care
 Tuesday April 30 at noon outside the Ontario Legislature 
(Queen’s Park, Toronto)
Now, more than ever, a show of strength is required. Please spread the word.

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