Citizens’ Referendum coming to Cornwall/SDG

Provided by Elaine MacDonald
Citizens’ Referendum coming to Cornwall/SDG
MacDonald and Lanctot with ballot boxes in Winchester and Martintown. (Photo : Submitted photo)

Referendums are rare political events and citizen-led ones even rarer. Ontario hasn’t experienced one since the provincial election of 2007. The issue then was electoral reform, and it was government led. However, the people of SDG and Cornwall will soon experience exactly the opposite: a citizen-led non-partisan referendum.

The referendum is being conducted by the members of the local SDG/Cornwall Health Coalition, in concert with local health coalitions across the province. The coalitions claim the issue cannot wait till the next election. Elaine MacDonald and Louise Lanctot, co-chairs of the local coalition, say a sea change in the healthcare system is underway on the province now.

Under the guise of tackling the surgical backlog that built up during COVID, they claim the province is using public taxpayer dollars to stimulate and support the development of a private for-profit surgical industry that will be rapidly entrenched into the public sphere. And given the chronic underfunding and shortage of personnel that are destabilizing the public system, the group fears the outcome of the very unequal contest between the moneyed interests on one side and the wellbeing of Joe and Josephine Public on the other.

Those who want to monetize healthcare are a powerful and compelling lobby, so the coalition wants the citizenry to weigh in. They want Queens Park to know that the people of Ontario are not in support of the transformation of the public system into a private, for-profit industry. They point to the comparative shortcomings of private vs public care in longterm care and homecare as ample evidence of danger. MacDonald said that the nightly news exposed the horrific consequences in facilities where profit trumped care.

So on the 26 and 27 of May, in the towns and villages of SDG and in the city of Cornwall, polling stations will be set up by volunteers and citizens are invited to stop, sign an attestation and fill out the one-question ballot. Each ballot is a small gesture but taken together and delivered to Queens Park on May 31, Lanctot claims they will speak truth to power.





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