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Save public healthcare: Mass rally, May 30

Faline Bobier

April 8, 2024
Last spring saw an incredible mobilization by the Ontario Health Coalition, a network of local health coalitions in cities and towns across the province. Currently the Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 500 member organizations and a network of local Health coalitions and individual members. OHC members include: seniors’ groups; patients’ organizations; unions; nurses and health professionals’ organizations; physicians and physician organizations that support the public health system; non-profit community agencies; student groups; cultural organizations; residents’ and family councils; retirees; poverty and equality-seeking groups; women’s organizations, and others.
Member organizations held a public citizen’s referendum asking whether or not people in Ontario support the privatization of public hospital services into for profit clinics, currently being pushed by Doug Ford’s Tory government.
Polling stations were set up across the province for a two-day vote – on street corners, in workplaces, in front of public libraries, in housing co-ops, etc. The results affirmed what poll after poll tells us – that people want to defend their public health care system and don’t want to see the healthcare for profit model that exists south of the border. More than 400,000 ballots from this community-run referendum found 99 per cent of those who voted are against publicly funded hospital services being privatized.
Mounting the referendum was a Herculean effort which involved several months of outreach by members of OHC, recruiting new volunteers in order to get the word out about the vote and the dangers of Ford’s privatization by stealth of public healthcare.
In spite of the evidence of last spring’s poll, the Ford government is pushing ahead with this wrecking operation. In the most recent budget Ford tried to pretend his government was doing something to address the chronic underfunding of public hospitals, which his government has been spearheading.
As CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE) pointed out “the increase in hospital funding announced [by the Ford government] is not enough to ease the hospital crisis and will actually cause further deterioration.
“It doesn’t keep up with hospital inflationary pressures (of 5.6 per cent) let alone the pressures of an aging and growing population, even as we witness an unprecedented crisis in our hospitals. It’s not enough money to improve the staffing and capacity we desperately need. It’s not enough to halt ER closures, reduce surgical waitlists, or seriously address hallway healthcare. It’s just enough funding to maintain a perpetual crisis of care,” said Michael Hurley, president of OCHU-CUPE.
Ford is copying his Tory predecessor and former premier of Ontario, Mike Harris. Harris laid out the blueprint for privatization: starve public hospitals of funds to pave the way for for-profit clinics that bill patients for “extras” that used to be covered in the public system.
Under the Mike Harris government there was a deliberate strategy of privatizing long-term care facilities so that today over two-thirds of LTCs are privately owned. And of course this benefited Harris and his Tory buddies who sat on the boards of these LTCs and profited personally from the deteriorating conditions for both staff and patients.
We saw the results of this cash grab on the part of Harris and his wealthy buddies during the Covid outbreak, when thousands of people died in LTCs where standards of care had been steadily declining because the bottom line was the amount of profit that could be squeezed out of the LTCs, not the quality of life and work for staff and patients.
The Ontario Health Coalition, led by tireless fighter and OHC Executive Director Natalie Mehra, is launching a new front in the ongoing campaign to save public healthcare. OHC has begun campaigning and leafleting for a mass mobilization against the privatization of our public hospitals to be held on Thursday May 30 at 12 noon at Queen’s Park. 
They want to hand out two million leaflets in the lead-up to May 30th and to build the largest mobilization yet against the Ford government’s privatization plans but more than that, to build a network of individuals and organizations who understand what’s at stake in this fight.
We are fighting for a health care system where people come before profit. The devastation that is already being caused by Emergency departments shutting down in unprecedented numbers, by people being extra-billed for procedures that used to be provided for free in public hospitals, by public money and staff being siphoned into for-profit clinics must be halted if we are to preserve public health care for future generations.
You can take action in several ways:
  • Hand out leaflets in your neighbourhood, at work, in community groups.
  • Join your local Health Coalition:
  • Join the May 30 protest-and bring friends, family and co-workers.
  • Tell your MPP to stop the privatization of our health care.
We know Ford and the Tories won’t voluntarily end their attacks on public healthcare. But they can be stopped when healthcare workers and people who depend on healthcare unite.

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