Ontario Rally Defends Public Health Care

Thousands Demand Ford Government Improve Not Cut Investments in Health Care

Some 10,000 health care workers and people from all walks of life, from cities and towns around Ontario, converged on Queen's Park April 30 to demand the Ontario government stop its planned draconian cuts to public health care.

Buses came from across southern Ontario and as far away as Ottawa, Timmins, Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) alone brought 35 buses. Many took time off work to be there.

There were contingents at the rally from health care locals of OCHU/CUPE, the Ontario Nurses' Association, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Service Employees International Union, Unifor and the Carpenters' Union. They represented many fields in the sector from nurses to paramedics and other first responders to personal support workers, along with students in nursing and other fields. All came to make their voices heard.

They spoke of the difficult situations they already face due to understaffing and lack of funding of public health care and affirmed their determination to prevent further cuts and privatization and to fight to protect and expand public health care. The health care system belongs to the people of Ontario and we must have a say in how it is run, speakers emphasized.

Health care workers were joined by contingents of other unions representing steelworkers, elementary and secondary school teachers and education workers, postal and food workers and many others.

People who, following the last round of restructuring, formed citizen's committees to save their local hospital services told the crowd that they face a far bigger threat now. The Ford government has pushed through a new law giving the government and their appointees to the new health care super agency extraordinary powers to restructure, cut, transfer, close and privatize health services. They vowed to stop any new attempts to dismantle their services. A number of the speakers were patients who spoke to their experience with and concerns over mega-mergers and health restructuring.

The Ontario Health Coalition gave the call for the rally and organized townhalls in a number of cities to mobilize for it. "For the first time, more than 150,000 health professionals, nurses, support workers, doctors and tens of thousands of patient advocates are joining together in a health action day, unified in their deep concern that the Ford government intends unprecedented health care privatization," the coalition said in a statement.

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition stated at the rally "Doug Ford's government has no mandate to impose cuts and privatization of public health care. Not a word of this was breathed in the election." Further she said "Health care belongs to the people of Ontario, we fund it, and we have worked in our communities for a century to build our public hospitals and local health services. Mr. Ford, we are demanding that you improve it as you promised. No to cuts, privatization and mega-mergers. If you try to close down or privatize our local health care services, we will fight these in every community, every step of the way."

(Photos: TML, CUPE, OFL)

This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 16 - May 4, 2019

Article Link:
Ontario Rally Defends Public Health Care: Thousands Demand Ford Government Improve Not Cut Investments in Health Care


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