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London chapter at regional day of action protest against health care cuts

London chapter

The Council of Canadians London chapter recently participated in a regional day of action protest against health care cuts and privatization.

CTV reports, “About 200 people gathered to demand an end to health care cuts outside MPP Deb Matthews’ office on Piccadilly Street Friday afternoon.” AM 980 adds, “Demonstrators brought signs, balloons, sang songs and chanted despite Matthews not being there to witness the event. The rally, led by the Ontario Health Coalition, is in response to cuts being made by the Liberal government, which is having a detrimental effect on London’s hospitals.”

The evening before the chapter also hosted a sign-making party to prepare for the protest.

London chapter

AM 980 notes, “The coalition says London’s hospitals are facing $32-million in cuts, which will affect departments like vascular cardiology, mental health, oncology, and others.” Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra says, “The gaps between the actual costs for hospitals and their funding has grown every year and Deb Matthews is the cabinet minister in charge of forcing through the cuts.” The London North Centre MPP is both the deputy premier and the President of the Treasury Board. That means that she has direct responsibility for the provincial government’s austerity agenda and planned cuts to public services, including cuts to hospitals.

The coalition highlights that, “In this, the eighth consecutive year of real-dollar decreases to community hospitals’ global budgets, cuts are happening everywhere. Maternity wards are under threat of closure; entire community hospitals serving hundreds of thousands of patients being closed down; outpatient clinics are being privatized, small town hospitals losing entire wards; large hospitals are facing deficits in the millions of dollars; and thousands of nurses, health professionals and hospital support staff positions being cut and eliminated. As public hospital services are being slashed, ownership and control over vital care is being privatized to for-profit companies, patients are hit with new user fees and two-tier health care is taking over. And with the recommendations of the government’s panel on home care, the last remaining public and non-profit home care services are under renewed threat of privatization.”

The AM 980 news report also notes, “The coalition says since 2012, more than 475,000 hours per year of hands-on nursing care have been cut across the region. In addition 194,000 more hours of care per year are on the chopping block at LHSC [London Health Services Centre].”

Toronto-based Council of Canadians health care campaigner Michael Butler says, “We must send the message to all political parties that our health is not for sale. Too many people have fought too hard and too long to end up being left with so very little. Unlike like this government, the people of Ontario think access to quality health care in their community is right and not a privilege. These hospital cuts are about two different sets of values, ours and theirs.”

On May 22, the Council of Canadians South Niagara and Hamilton chapters also took part the Ontario Health Coalition’s regional day of action protest outside Liberal MPP Jim Bradley’s office in St. Catharines.

Further reading
London chapter protests closure of Leamington hospital’s obstetrics unit (March 2015 blog)
South Niagara, Hamilton chapters at day of action to stop health care cuts and privatization (May 2015 blog)

Photos by Kevin Jones.