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Ford guts public healthcare, rewards profiteers

Faline Bobier

November 10, 2022
At a press conference on October 26, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) delivered proof that the Ford government lied about its plans to privatize Ontario’s public hospital services. 
 “The Ford government lied to the public leading into an election,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the OHC. “You can’t just outright deny you are expanding private for-profit clinics while you are in fact shunting millions over to expand private for-profit clinics. You can’t pretend you are not going to privatize before an election and then, as soon as the election is over, announce plans to privatize."
"By every measure, this is wrong. It is fundamentally undemocratic and cannot go without challenge,” she said.
Before the provincial election in June 2022, then Health Minister Christine Elliot made a bombshell statement: “We are opening up pediatric surgeries, cancer screenings… Making sure that we can let independent health facilities operate private hospitals.” 
The statement came at the same time as the province was privatizing long-term care, home care, vaccines, COVID testing, and allowing for-profit virtual care companies and COVID testing corporations to charge patients for access to doctors and vaccines respectively, in violation of the Canada Health Act. 
The Minister’s spokespeople claimed that she misspoke or was misinterpreted. They denied plans to expand private health clinics and hospitals, and repeatedly said that any such claim was “categorically false”.
But data from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario — a body which reviews Ontario’s fiscal reporting — shows that the government in fact doubled the funding for the private clinics [Independent Health Facilities] in the same time period.
Two months after the election, the Ford government announced that they are going to privatize public hospital services and expand private for-profit clinics and hospitals.
Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones says Doug Ford’s government will work with private health clinics to find more “opportunities” for private companies in the public health system. Jones unveiled the government’s plan to “relieve” the health system’s surgical backlog by “increasing the number of OHIP-covered surgical procedures performed at independent health facilities" [read private for-profit clinics]. 
Ford's privatization is not about “stabilizing” the health system or adding capacity. Every large hospital in Ontario has operating rooms that have been closed for weeks or months or more due to inadequate funding and, more recently, staffing shortages. Private clinics take scarce staff out of local public hospitals, worsening wait times for the public system. The evidence is that the private clinics charge patients illegal user fees and other fees for medically unnecessary add-ons. 
This is not about improving healthcare. It is about expanding a profit-seeking industry that wants access to the billions in public funding for healthcare. 
Doug Ford’s playbook is being copied by provincial governments across the country. At a recent forum with speakers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, representatives from provincial Health Coalitions reported the same rampant privatization and underfunding of public healthcare across the Prairies. As a speaker from Friends of Medicare in Alberta stated, “This [increasing privatization of healthcare] is not about incompetence; it is intentional on the part of our governments.”
How fitting then that Doug Ford inducted former Tory premier Mike Harris into the Order of Ontario on October 24. The Mike Harris government launched the Health Services Restructuring Commission that ordered the closure of 43 hospitals.
Not only did Harris close thousands of public chronic care hospital beds, when he became chair of Chartwell after leaving office he reaped the rewards of the replacement of these chronic care beds with LTC beds, and his privatization of those LTC beds.
Over 18 years, Chartwell paid Mike Harris $3.5 million for his services, the bulk of it in Chartwell stock.
Harris also privatized the majority of Ontario's home care. In 2012 he and his wife started a for-profit home care company, Nurse Next Door.
In August, Harris came out in support of Doug Ford's plans to privatize our public hospitals. No wonder.
Doug Ford and Mike Harris are brothers in arms. They are waging a class war against all of those who depend on the public health system for life-saving care. 
Stop the privateers
The OHC is demanding Ford stop this privatization and take real action to deal with the emergency in healthcare that his government had a significant hand in creating so they could offer the ‘solution’ of private clinics – effectively paving the way for a two-tiered healthcare system. 
OHC has launched a major campaign that is being taken up in towns and cities across the province with townhall meetings, community organizing, protests and escalating actions. We are in the fight of our lives, for our lives, and everyone needs to be a part of ending the drive to turn healthcare into a for-profit nightmare for the vast majority. 
• Join the campaign at
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