Council chapters join thousands in rally for public health care in Ontario

Council of Canadians chapter activists from Peterborough, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Guelph and London joined with thousands of people for a rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto today in support of public health care.

Organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, the rally included people from across the province, representing health care workers, doctors and patients. The message was clear: Ontarians do not support any form of health care privatization.

Premier Ford, who made an election promise to “end hallway medicine,” has recently been revealing his true agenda. A few weeks ago he appointed former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell to lead an independent inquiry into the previous Liberal government’s spending and make recommendations on “efficiencies.” It is very likely that the recommendations he makes will relate to health care. According to the Ontario Health Coalition, Mr. Campbell’s government cut and privatized hospitals and health care services in B.C. “Under his leadership, user fees for patients ballooned to the worst in the country. As a result of his policies, B.C. is ground zero for health care privatization in Canada, two-tier medicare is rampant, long waits and poor access to care exist throughout the system.”

There has also been growing speculation that Premier Ford’s plans for health care include creating mega-hospitals where services would be consolidated. The fear is this would lead to the closure of smaller and more rural hospitals. The Ford government has already announced a reduction in funding for hospital beds in the province, despite the fact that Ontario has the fewest number of hospital beds per capita in Canada.  Ontario also funds its public hospitals at the lowest rate in Canada.

Statistics provided by the Ontario Health Coalition show Ontario has an average of 2.24 beds for every 1,000 people. Newfoundland ranks the highest, with more than four beds for every 1,000 people. A 2015 Canadian Institute for Health study also shows that Ontario spends about $500 less per person on public health care than other provinces.

The Council of Canadians, through our chapters and work with health coalitions across the country, supports publicly funded and delivered health care. Privatization is not the answer – it leads to longer wait times, higher costs and worse care. We will continue to stand up for public health care in Ontario and across the country.