NDP Health Critic France Gelinas with OPSEU’s Sara Labelle.
The organizers had to put out more chairs as the audience filled the small room in the Oshawa Seniors Centre.
Upstairs they were playing Bingo, downstairs about 50 people came to talk about their frustrations with a health care system that is failing them.
NDP Health critic France Gelinas said there was a silver lining to the proroguing of the provincial parliament – it was an opportunity for her to get out and talk to citizens across Ontario about the care they are receiving.
Gelinas was part of a panel of three this night: OPSEU’s Sara Labelle and the Ontario Health Coalition’s Natalie Mehra rounded out the bill. An Oshawa civic politician, Amy England, did the facilitation. But most of the talking this evening would come from the audience, not the front of the room.
The owner of a supportive housing facility railed against a forced merger by the Local Health Integration Network.
Another complained about having to leave a crowded ER at Lakeridge Health because the noise was “like a rock concert.” He wanted to know what the statistics were on people who left the ER against medical advice.
One of the event organizers told the heartbreaking story of her lengthy struggle to reunite her elderly parents in the same long-term care facility.
“This is cruel – there is no reason for this,” Gelinas said.
Dennis Howlett, coordinator of Canadians for Tax Fairness, will be at all three public health care forums this week in Eastern Ontario. The forums are hosted by the Ontario Health Coalition.
Given the focus on debt, deficit and public sector job cuts, much of the media coverage has overlooked the impact of the provincial budget on Ontario’s health care system. The March provincial budget slowed funding further than most had predicted, leading to concerns about longer waits, crowded ERs and the delisting of some health services.
As coordinator of CFTF, Howlett is building a national campaign to promote fair taxation. CFTF believes the tax system should be reformed to fund the comprehensive, high-quality network of public services and programs required to meet our social, economic and environmental needs in the 21st century.
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Tagged Ann Clark, Canadians For Tax Fairness, Dennis Howlett, False Positive: Private Profit in Canada's Medical Laboratories, Kathleen Lahey, Marlene Rivier, Michael Hurley, Natalie Mehra, Queen's University, Ross Sutherland, Sara Labelle
Poverty kills more people than cancer according to Dennis Howlett, Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness.
Speaking Thursday night at the Peterborough health care forum organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, Howlett addressed false economies in our present health system.
Panelists at the Peterborough health care forum Thursday night.
“There were going to freeze social assistance rates until the NDP negotiated a better deal,” said Howlett.,“yet the best way to reduce health care costs is to reduce poverty.”
Howlett told the town hall meeting that poverty condemns people to a lifetime of poor health, yet the government is doing little to address these upstream issues.
While the media have portrayed health care as one of the winners of the spring budget season, the reality is the 2.1 per cent average increase in health funding over the next three years will represent major restraint on services. Last summer the Auditor General of Ontario described the previous target of 3.6 per cent as “aggressive” in his pre-election report, suggesting it would lead to a choice between hospital deficits and cuts to services.
The situation is particularly clouded for hospitals, which not only face a zero base budget, but are contending with a new funding formula that could see them receive even less than they did last year.
The Ontario Health Coalition is holding a series of town hall forums across the province in May and June to talk about the impact of the budget on the delivery of public health care.
Confirmed speakers include economist Hugh Mackenzie (Hugh Mackenzie and Associates), Dennis Howlett (Coordinator of Canadians for Tax Fairness), Trish Hennesey (Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Income Inequality Project) and Natalie Mehra (Director, Ontario Health Coalition).
Speakers from OPSEU so far include Sara Labelle (Chair, Health Care Divisional Council), Sandi Blancher (Vice-Chair, Hospital Professionals Division) and Marlene Rivier (President of Local 479, Royal Ottawa Health Group and Chair of the Ottawa Health Coalition.)
Speakers will vary by location.