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COVID: gateway to privatized healthcare

By: 
John Bell

December 31, 2021

The Ontario government’s long-awaited announcement about measures to deal with the unprecedented surge of COVID Omicron proved one thing: the Doug Ford Tories have stopped even pretending they care about public health and public healthcare.

They have scrapped publicly funded PCR tests for all but a handful of people. At the same time a boutique-style PCR testing store has opened in a downtown mall: pricetag $180 per test. Expect more testing stores to pop up soon.

Speaking to CP24 TV news, UHN nurse practitioner Anshumi Joshi implored the government: “Can we have these PCR tests that are going into the private sector, into the public sector so that it doesn’t fall apart? That would be great. I don’t understand why the community should pay so much. Are you trying to tell them, if you don’t have money you don’t deserve healthcare?”

Precisely.

Omicron has spread so quickly that services like hospitals and, more importantly, private industries were threatened with stoppages as exposed workers isolate for the necessary 10 days. Their answer is to cut the isolation time to 5 days. This solution was cooked up by corporate HR offices, not science, and satisfies workforce requirements, not public health.

They also announced school reopening will be postponed – for 2 days. What is to be gained by that? Your guess is as good as mine. To look like you’re doing something when you’re really doing nothing?

Oh yes, they promised to deliver better quality PPE for all teachers. But there was no announcement of funding to buy the N95 masks. Are cash-strapped school boards supposed to pick up the tab?

We don’t know the answer to these questions because the Education Minister, Stephen Lecce was AWOL, unavailable to answer questions from the press. So was the Health Minister, Christine Elliott. So was the Long Term Care Minister Rod Phillips. And so, of course was Doug Ford himself. Ford has not been sighted since December 17, when he fled to spend the holidays in his cottage/bunker.

The level of political cowardice is matched only their public health hypocrisy.

They left Dr. Kieran Moore, so-called chief officer of health, to take the heat. Moore is a Ford lackey, but not a very good one. He let slip the real bottom line: “5 day isolation is less burdensome for employers.”

Palliative care doctor Naheed Dosani responded on twitter: “Let's get one thing straight: The Ontario government's decision to shorten the COVID-19 isolation period to 5 days without also providing workers with free N95 masks, rapid tests & adequate paid sick days is a business decision, not a public health decision.”

True, but it does more. It opens the gate to 2-tier healthcare and privatized for-profit medicine a bit wider. 

 

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