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Ontario Health Coalition campaign: people before profit

Pam Johnson

April 19, 2022
The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), a long-time healthcare advocate organization, has launched a bold province wide campaign to expose the Ontario PC government’s plan to privatize healthcare under the cover of the COVID crisis. OHC has hosted summits in cities across the province to inform the public of the sheer scale of the healthcare devastation that has taken place and to call for a mass public outcry.   
Ford’s appalling healthcare record
Doug Ford’s handling of the pandemic has been a series of disasters that continue to be repeated through wave after wave of COVID. Speakers at the summit in the Toronto, North York and Scarborough area outlined some of the devastating facts. Natalie Mehra, leader of the Ontario Health Coalition and Michael Hurley, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions president, spoke about the nightmare conditions in Ontario’s long-term care (LTC) homes. Ontario has the highest rate of deaths in LTC homes of any jurisdiction in the industrialized world - 4,500 LTC residents have died since the beginning of the pandemic. As well as COVID, many died from dehydration, starvation and neglect due to chronic understaffing. 
Three quarters of those deaths happened in for-profit LTCs, while executives, like former Premier Mike Harris, and shareholders raked in profits. Not a single fine was laid or licence revoked as this information came to light. In fact, the Ford government recently passed legislation to allow for more for-profit homes, and created a law that shields these pandemic profiteers from lawsuits related to their criminal neglect of residents.
Speaker Michelle Jones, who lost her grandmother in an LTC, reported that there was only one overnight nurse and three Personal Support Workers treating dozens of sick and frail residents needing constant care. Jones found out too late that her grandmother had a necrotic wound caused by neglect which contributed to her death.      
Dr. Dick Zoutman, former Scarborough hospital administrator, outlined the reality of healthcare funding. Ontario’s funding for healthcare is the lowest per capita in Canada. Stunningly, Ontario also has the lowest ratio of beds per capita of any jurisdiction in the industrialized world. 
But the Ford government response to the health care deaths and worker burnout has been to blame individuals for getting sick and to use the crisis to hand lucrative contracts to the private sector. A video was played of the press conference at the summit where Christine Elliott, Ontario Minister of Health, called for private hospitals to pick up the slack. Ford’s agenda was also exposed when it came to light that private schools were offered more rapid tests than the public systems and public hospitals. Covid vaccines are available at Shopper’s Drug Mart, but not your doctor’s office. Ontario no longer provides the more accurate PCR tests for Covid for free, but you can pay for them. 
Say No to healthcare privatization campaign
The Ontario Health Coalition is sounding the alarm and organizing a mass campaign including street protests, door-to-door canvasing, lawn signs, windows signs and stickers to raise the pressure on the Ford government and all politicians to say no to healthcare privatization. In poll after poll, respondents support a public healthcare system by an overwhelming majority. The Ford government is vulnerable on this issue and the opposition parties need to be pressured to step up. The Ontario Health Coalition is calling for everyone to get involved to build the momentum. There are dozens of locations where campaign material can be picked up and local contacts can plug you into activity across the province. The OHC campaign website has a wealth of information and materials. Pick up your sign today!
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