In the News May 12
Ontario Election 2022
Consequences of the Privatization of Health Care
In Ontario as across the country, the people are striving to re-establish a properly resourced publicly administered and controlled health care system at the highest standards commensurate with the technological advances attained today, available to all. In this election, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) is putting forward demands for an agenda which serves the needs of workers, staff, patients and the people of Ontario as a whole.
The OHC is comprised of more than 750,000 members, affiliate organizations and chapters throughout the province and has been at the centre of the battle against government cuts to health care spending and privatization of health care for more than two decades.
The organization put out a press release on May 5, drawing attention to the plans of the Conservative government of Doug Ford to further privatize health care, particularly in the area of long-term care. It points out that through the inaction of the Ford government more than 4,500 seniors died during the COVID-19 pandemic — many from neglect, dehydration, abuse and other avoidable circumstances, yet no one has been held accountable. Not a single operating license has been revoked.
The OHC points out that the majority of those who died were in private long-term care facilities which are owned by private monopolies and real-estate speculators. Far from punishing those responsible for the crisis conditions that caused so many seniors’ deaths, the Ford government rewarded them by extending their operating licences for another 30 years and protecting them by making changes to the Long-Term Care Homes Act which makes it almost impossible to hold the owners legally responsible for their criminal neglect.
The OHC points out that the Doug Ford Conservatives are in the process of allocating 18,000 new long-term care beds to private operators under 30-year contracts. The licences for another 31,000 long-term care beds which need refurbishing expire in July 2025. The public is paying for the refurbishing of those beds, many operated by the monopolies. In other words, seniors’ care is one big pay-the-rich scheme in which hundreds of millions of public funds are handed over to private interests whose bottom line has been thriving because of it.
The OHC points out:
“We are at a crossroads. The 46,000 new and rebuilt beds can tip the balance in Ontario’s long-term care back to a majority of non-profit and publicly owned homes; a balance that was tipped to become majority private for-profit when the Mike Harris government privatized thousands of long-term care beds. The Coalition has called on all Ontario political parties to stop the handover of these tens of thousands of long-term care beds that we — the public — are paying for, to for-profit companies and instead to build them as public and non-profit beds.”
“We watched in horror as thousands of long-term care residents died, many preventably, and most of them in for-profit homes,” Natalie Mehra of the OHC pointed out.. “Here, in modern day Ontario, people died of dehydration, of starvation, of complete lack of care and negligence. At the same time, the for-profit owners of the long-term care homes responsible for their well-being took literally tens of millions of dollars each month in profits for themselves.”
“It is a blight on the soul of our province and our nation,” she warned. “Not only has the Ford government failed to hold the companies responsible for such suffering accountable in any way, he is actually rewarding them with thousands of 30-year contracts. It is horrific.”
“As a people, as a province, we cannot let the deaths and suffering of the thousands of human beings and their families go in vain. We are asking media to tell this story. We are asking Ontarians to make sure that when candidates come to their doors, they are told to stop the privatization of long-term care and improve care. It will matter for millions of Ontarians for an entire generation to come.”
The Coalition is calling on all political parties to stop the for-profit privatization of health care and finally really make the improvements needed in long-term care.
The fighting experience of the OHC and frontline health care workers and other workers in Ontario shows, particularly in the context of the pandemic, that it is the workers, the health care professionals and people of the province that know what is required to have a modern health care system that meets the needs of all. Meeting their demands is an important election issue.
Ontario Political Forum, posted May 12, 2022.