Ontarians Raise Their Voices Against Government's
Privatization of Health Care

Vigorous Campaign to "Stop the Ford Government From Privatizing Our Public Hospitals"

Rally against privatization of hospitals in Windsor, December 12, 2022.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) organized rallies in Ottawa and Niagara on December 9 and in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo and Windsor on December 12 as part of their campaign to stop the Ford government's privatization of hospitals. The actions rallied public support and appreciation for the doctors, nurses and other frontline health care workers in Ontario who have carried on courageously to serve the people of Ontario despite an unprecedented health care crisis in the province.

Speakers at the actions highlighted the consequences of the massive cuts to health care carried out over the last three decades as a result of the restructuring of the state and privatization of the public sector. They denounced the particularly vicious attacks by the Ford government in cutting funds to public health care, attacking frontline health care workers, and privatizing more and more health care services.

In the weeks before these actions hundreds of people participated in a dozen virtual town hall meetings organized by the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) in cities throughout Ontario. Another series of town hall meetings will be held in the New Year.

At the town halls local activists in the communities and representatives of the Ontario Health Coalition discussed practical actions, local and province-wide, to force the government to stop its aggressive agenda to cut back on public health care in favour of shifting work to private for profit operations. The main focus of the discussion was on hospitals which have been hard hit by government policies including Bill 124 which has imposed intolerable working conditions on hospital staff and pushed the staffing crisis to unprecedented levels.

At the Hamilton town hall on December 1 a member of the board of the OHC and representatives of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-CUPE and the Ontario Nurses' Association and local activists gave various examples of the consequences, including the temporary closure of almost 100 Emergency Departments and the closures of Intensive Care Units and Birthing Units due to lack of staff, patients stuck in Emergency Departments because there are no beds to admit them, communities without ambulance service because paramedics have to wait with their patients until their care is taken over by hospital staff.

Several speakers denounced the cavalier attitude of the government including statements by the Minister of Health that ER closures and staff shortages are all "planned" and do not constitute any sort of emergency. Ontario Health, a government agency, has also said that hospitals are expected to remain at 120 per cent capacity until at least March. 

In recent weeks children's hospitals have been overwhelmed and forced to cut services, hold children and families for hours before children can be admitted and transfer children to adult hospitals. In Hamilton a severely burned child had to be taken to hospital in London because the McMaster Children's Hospital could not treat him.

The spirit of the discussion reflected a determination to stop the Ford agenda of wrecking public health care by massive mobilization of workers, retirees, patients and families in communities all across the province, with conviction that the government's plan to privatize more and more of the public health care system can be defeated. Examples were given of past successful campaigns by people in large and small communities to stop plans to close departments or whole hospitals, and to stop the privatization of cancer care and ambulance services.

The Ontario Health Coalition has launched an ambitious campaign which includes the town halls and protests as well as a broad social media appeal to people to sign up as a Public Medicare Defender, a form of a petition to the government which has a target of a million names, "to tell Doug Ford in no uncertain terms that he does not have a mandate from Ontarians to privatize our public health care." 

To join the campaign and for further information on upcoming events click here

(Photos: TMLD, ONA, OHC )

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 60 - December 16, 2022

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