On April 18, 2023, a press conference was held by the SDG/Cornwall Health Coalition outside the Cornwall Community Hospital. A local chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, the SDG/Cornwall coalition is participating in a province-wide community referendum on May 26 and 27 to stop the Ford Government from privatizing our public hospitals.
“In the name of reducing the backlog in surgeries, the government is facilitating the development of private, for-profit surgical facilities, at the same time it maintains the public hospitals on an austerity budget,” explained co-chair, Elaine MacDonald, “The government could invest in re-building the public system and strengthening public hospitals. But they don’t. According to the FAO of Ontario, the government has underspent on public healthcare to the tune of $1.25 billion in 2023 alone, and continually increases its support for the private for-profits.”
Since the provincial government is making big changes to the Ontario healthcare system without consulting the public, health coalitions across Ontario are taking matters into their own hands. They have identified over 1,000 poll sites for citizens to have their say in this issue.
SDG and Cornwall will have 21 poll locations.
The referendum will consist of a one question ballot open to all Ontario residents over the age of 16:
Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?
Dr. Juliet Gill, an anesthesiologist who has practiced in Canada and the United States, shared her opinion on the issue:
“It’s foot in the door at the moment, but can you imagine what obstetric care would be like privatized? It’s expensive on a good day and we know that some obstetric units in the country have closed because there’s not the staff and not the money invested. In the private sector obstetric care will be extremely expensive and accessible only to those who can pay. Those who have bought expensive insurance. And know that insurance in the states for healthcare can run up to $800 a month for a family.”
According to the Canadian Medical Association, provinces and territories generate over 70% of the cost of healthcare spending through general tax revenues with the federal government providing the rest through the Canada Health Transfer. After years of communities fundraising to support local hospitals and keep important healthcare services close, the Ontario government’s support of privatization is an affront to our public system.
For more information on the referendum, visit www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca