Tough talk was used to describe the Dalton McGuinty Liberal government cuts to health-care funding, at a town hall meeting held at Chateau Cornwall.
A panel of local doctors, hosted my Conservative MPP Jim MacDonell expressed their concern about the cuts which will directly affect patients in SD and G, they say, adding access to vital treatment and tests will be more difficult to come by.
Speaking to a group of more than 100, mostly seniors, Dr. Thomas Baitz, did not mince words, comparing McGuinty’s government to a dictatorship.
“I have lived under both Hitler and Stalin; I do know what dictatorship is,” he said. “And we, the medical profession, are getting closer and closer to total control.
“Not only what I can earn but how I can practice medicine. This degree of government control over the medical profession is only in two countries in the world, North Korea and Canada.”
Other doctors agreed with Baitz.
“Physicians are getting older and eventually they will retire and you need new young physicians to come to Cornwall,” said Dr. Ronald Tremblay, who explained that the only way to attract new doctors to the area is to give them conditions that are as good as they can find elsewhere.
“It’s very important for every one of you to get involved in this situation and to let the Liberal government know that it’s important,” said Tremblay.
It is feared that physicians and new medical school graduates will choose to leave Ontario to work in other provinces or the United States where their opinion and input is respected, said doctors at the town hall meeting.
About six years ago waiting lists for ultra sounds and CT scans were six to 18 months, said Dr. Tasso Boubalos, chief radiologist at the Cornwall Community Hospital. Since then, he says, things have improved dramatically – no waiting list goes beyond two weeks.
“If this is the beginning, then pretty soon,” he warned, “we are going to return very quickly to the state we were in six years ago.”
Following the doctors’ presentations the floor was opened to comments from the gallery.
“I have a big problem with a government official who is not a medical person, deciding my medical care. I want a doctor to decide what care I need, not a government official,” said Audrey Payne, an attendee at the meeting.
City Councillor Elaine MacDonald, who is also a member of the local labour board, was in support of the doctor’s complaints.
“Every labourer, doctor, janitor, judge should have the right to negotiate and not just suffer the legislation of the recompense for their labour,” she said. “We hope that the (Ontario Medical Association) will spread this across the province so that this type of meeting will go on in other areas as well,” said Ray O’Collin, another attendee.
McDonell said the message from doctors is adament
“The doctors of our community spoke loudly and clearly last night about their passionate concern for the future of health care in Ontario,” he said. “The McGuinty government’s reckless arbitrary cuts, without an in-depth review of the system, just reinforces their lack of strategic planning.”