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Looming health care privatization in Ontario


Photo: Brady promotes the Peterborough Health Coalition joining the Ontario-wide referendum, March 11. Photo by Clifford Skarstedt/ Peterborough Examiner.
Photo: Brady promotes the Peterborough Health Coalition joining the Ontario-wide referendum, March 11. Photo by Clifford Skarstedt/ Peterborough Examiner.

Written by Roy Brady

This past month there has been a massive health care campaign in Ontario by the Ontario Health Coalition and its chapters to challenge a very dangerous intention by the Province to transfer surgeries from the hospital setting to private clinics, which invariability have been for profit. Five cities – Windsor, London, Kitchener, Sudbury and Peterborough – conducted major local campaigns culminating in a citizens’ referendum vote on Saturday, April 5. Other Ontario communities conducted community-wide education and voting on a smaller scale. CoC chapters were thoroughly engaged in Windsor, London and Peterborough, with considerable support in Niagara, Guelph, Thunder Bay and Hamilton, at least. There were 55 767 votes opposed to the government’s plan.

There was a need to initially educate the public about the plan which the Province had kept from the public eye. People became enraged that so much health care privatization was being withheld from their attention, and that already existing private clinics in Canada were 97% ‘for profit’ operations, according to the Auditor-General of Ontario’s 2012 Annual Report. This was despite the Health Ministry’s claim that these existing clinics were not for profit. User fees, extra charges, unnecessary testing and, on a small number of cases, actual double-billing were being inflicted upon patients who would otherwise have received their treatment in a hospital setting paid by OHIP, Ontario’s public health care insurance plan.

The plan to contract out hospital services is privatization, would invariably lead to two-tier health care, and would violate accessibility guarantees in the Canada Health Act. The Ontario Government must listen to the public and withdraw its plan to contract out services, particularly surgeries, to private for profit clinics.

Further reading
Brady organizing toward April 5 health care referendum
Two-tier referendum message was clear
Health coalition taking vote on privatization of hospital services to private clinics