CORNWALL, Ontario – The Ontario Health Coalition held a Zoom presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 23 to raise awareness for their campaign to fight back against what they perceive as health care privatization by the provincial government and for urgently needed improvements in our public, non-profit healthcare system.
The presentation started by showing the audience a clip of Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario speaking to the press about privatization.
“To continue we’re opening up pediatrics surgeries, cancer screenings, making sure that we can elect independent health facilities to operate, and private hospitals,” Elliott said.
Rainer Pethke, a member of the Cornwall Chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, spoke about his personal experiences dealing with Ontario’s current healthcare system.
“In my personal experience, it was a significant downgrade for my mom to be moved from non-profit care to for-profit care. Naturally they would have a bare minimum staff, because they have to turn a profit,” said Rainer Pethke. “For my mom that means they sometimes call late in the afternoon and say ‘I’m sorry, but we don’t have anyone available today,’ when they were supposed to be there for breakfast. This happened consecutively for a number of days.”
Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and First Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario spoke on Ontario’s current problems with hospital capacity, and the disadvantages of moving towards a privatized healthcare system.
“Ontario’s got a tremendous capacity problem in healthcare. It has the least number of hospitals and staff. Not only of any province in Canada, but of any country in the OECD, and any country with a developed economy. In long-term care, it’s got the second least capacity of any province in this country,” said Michael Hurley.
Michael Hurley also emphasized that during this pandemic, 4,000 Ontario residents died in long-term care, resulting in the most long-term care deaths of any country with a developed economy.
According to a study published in the journal of the American Medical Association, done by Canadian researchers, death rates were found to be two per cent higher in private hospitals, compared to non-profit hospitals.
Randy Robinson, Ontario Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, highlights the lack of funding for Ontario’s public services, compared to other provinces.
“When it comes to program spending, Ontario spends $2000 less per person, per year than the average of the other provinces,” said Randy Robinson. “With 15 million Ontarians, we’d need to spend an extra 30 billion dollars more just to be average, and that would be about an 18% increase in spending.”
The Ontario Health Coalition is doing a two month campaign to raise awareness, running from April 9 to June 2.