Today thousands of people traveled from all corners of Ontario and gathered at the provincial legislation (Queens Park) to stop the cuts/closure of their local hospitals and to stop the increasing number of private clinics in the province.
Over 3000 people came out to save our community hospitals and stop the contracting-out of hospital services to private clinics. From across Ontario people were saying they had enough after almost 20 years of cut and arguably the deepest seem in Canada (and the fewest hospital beds left per person of virtually every country in the OECD). We are now seeing the most aggressive attempt to close down entire towns’ hospitals, to systematically cut public hospital services and privatize them. It is nothing short of the complete dismantling of community hospitals as we know them. And we know what the Ontario government has in store for us, more private clinics.
As we speak the Wynne government is planning to cut as many surgeries and diagnostic tests from local public hospitals as possible, and contract them out to private clinics. With these private clinics we will see more and more user fees, ‘ad-ons’ and co-payments are required for virtually every service moved out of our public hospitals. They are also planning unthinkable cuts to chronic care beds, in some areas up to 50% of the remaining beds. As local hospitals are closed down in favour of regional P3 mega-hospitals, patients are forced to drive long distance for care and services they should be getting in their community.
What this all leads to is not cost savings or better care which is based on the need and not the ability to pay. This plan to fracture our public health care will worsen access and patient outcomes, while leading to a privatized two-tier American style of health care. We have already seen through the Liberal government’s Orange and E-health scandals how ‘efficient’ this care is, and we will not accept it.
For just one example, as this must read article pointed out, under the watch of Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne, “nurses are furious with a fresh wave of cuts in home- and community-care services by CCACs, which govern such services across Ontario, that are affecting thousands of sick and elderly patients.” And while Hoskins avoids mentioning this in speeches or concede that this is happening, “papers as the Windsor Star and Ottawa Sun publishing detailed articles about how patients suffering from strokes, multiple sclerosis and cancer have seen their services cut off.” At the same time that patient services and care is being cut, “the Liberal government had been pressuring hospitals to discharge patients quickly in order to save money,” and “wages for the top employees at Erie-St. Clair CCAC are rising. Over the past five years, the number of employees earning over $100,000 a year more than doubled, to 21 from just nine. At the same time, the salary for the chief executive officer position jumped 37 per cent, to $220,000 from $160,000 a year.”
We deserve more dignity, respect, and humanity.
Council of Canadians Chapters from South Niagara, Peterborough Kawartha, and Sudbury joined thousands of other people from all walks of life today to demand the Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario government stop the cuts, closures, dismantling and privatization of our community public hospitals. Patients deserve quality public health care based on need, and that it is provided with dignity and safety.
Here’s more of what they had to say.
The Peterborough Kawartha Chapter emphasized that, “We’re challenging, again, for-profit clinics that the government is allowing to proliferate right across Ontario…Brady said that the government has put a stop for contracts for the surgeries out of the hospitals since then (March), but said that the previous private clinics that are charging user fees and extra charges are still there and they won’t change them to not-for-profit status. They insist they are not-for-profit – they are not.”
Traveling all the way from Sudbury for the rally, the newest Council of Canadians Chapter in Ontario highlighted, “We traveled to Toronto from Sudbury to protest severe and ruthless cuts to our health services.” Also recognizing that what we see from the provincial government falls in line with what the federal government is doing, and that, “It has become quite clear that Harper intends to privatize Canada’s health plan and his caucus of subservient MPs will continue to do his bidding. Our federal government no longer represents the people and it is time to actively oppose his agenda.”
Enough is enough. It is time for the Wynne government to get real and start treating the people of Ontario with dignity and respect. The people of Ontario will not sit by as idle patsies as our public health care is dismantled.