Today will likely be the biggest Ontario Health Coalition demonstration at Queen’s Park since 2008.
Across Ontario seniors groups, union activists and family members frustrated with their own access to care will be boarding more than 40 buses, some in the pre-dawn darkness on an abnormally cold November morning.
The coalition has spent weeks organizing the day’s event to convince the Wynne government that privatizing more hospital services is not the road to good quality care or sustainable long term costs.
When: Friday, November 21 / 12 Noon
Where: Queen’s Park and University Avenue
Last spring the government was set to begin competitions for hospital services. Theoretically these competitions were to be between not-for-profit private clinics and the public hospitals, although the reality is there are very few not-for-profit clinics in the province. You might say most people were thinking of the not-for-profit edict with a wink.
Hospitals complained that it made it difficult for them to plan when their services would be left up to the caprice of the market.
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s new health minister, at least pressed the pause button on the competitions for everything from cataracts to diagnostic services.
Since then the Toronto Star has revealed that 13% of private clinics don’t meet provincial standards. By comparison, all Ontario hospitals have passed accreditation inspections.
Stories have also been circulating for months that talks are taking place around the further privatization of medical laboratory testing done by public hospitals. The government confirms they did commission a study by Deloitte on this issue. While they have freely distributed the Deloitte study to private stakeholders in the medical laboratory sector, they have withheld it from us. The officer dealing with our freedom of information request has suggested we may be able to get a redacted copy – that was months ago and nothing has arrived. Obviously they have something to hide.
Since being elected in 2003, the Liberals reversed their initial stance on public-private partnerships and have become world leaders in the privatization of public infrastructure, including many hospital buildings. This is despite flimsy evidence around the benefits of this method of infrastructure development.
If the government truly believes in evidence-based decision-making, they should extend the moratorium on privatizing public services and make the process much more open, fair and transparent. Ontarians deserve to know what the real choices are. Telling us that we can’t participate in their secret lab reform is not good enough.
If you care about the future of Ontario’s health care system, please come down at noon today and participate.
Wouldn’t it be great to tell your grandchildren you played a roll in preserving the public Medicare system Canadians continue to cherish?