Ontario's government is forging ahead with the most aggressive plan ever to systematically strip local community hospitals of services and cut or privatize them. They are already closing down outpatient services: physiotherapy, labs, pain clinics, fertility clinics and so on. They are planning to cut as many surgeries and diagnostic tests from local public hospitals as possible and contract them out to regional private clinics. Draconian cuts to chronic care (complex continuing care) beds are planned -- in some areas, the government is planning to cut 50% of the remaining beds. (Note: Ontario already has the fewest hospital beds left of any province in Canada, having undergone two decades of cuts.)
Patients are faced with driving further for care as it is taken out of local hospitals and centralized into one factory-like private clinic per region. Small community and rural towns will be hit hardest, but even large cities will be impacted as care is concentrated in fewer locations and patients face growing user fees. Local hospitals have been told to shrink the scope of the services they provide and specialize in only a few things. Patients will have to drive from site to site to get care.
Costs for patients are going up. User fees and co-payments are required for virtually every service moved out of our public hospitals. Private clinics are charging user fees in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars in violation of the Canada Health Act and the principles of Public Medicare in Canada.
Without any exaggeration, the community hospital that we have all fundraised and volunteered for -- the local hospital with a range of needed services close to home -- will not exist anymore if we don't stop this. Single-tier public health care without user fees and extra-billing will be destroyed because community care is subject to private ownership, harsh rationing of access to publicly-funded care, and almost all private clinics extra-bill patients. Public community ownership and governance over vital surgeries, tests, procedures will be gone.
It is under the radar -- even most politicians don't realize the extent of the plans
Even most politicians do not realize the full extent of the radical plan to dismantle our community hospitals. A group of highly-paid elites based in Toronto and the province's largest cities are leading the policy advice on this, and public interest voices are being totally cut out. The dedication of regular Ontarians to building and funding our local community hospitals is considered emotional and is disparaged by these policy advisors. No actual evidence regarding new costs for monitoring, oversight, enforcement and profiteering have ever been revealed if they have even been assessed, and the high costs of user fees and extra-billing to patients has been virtually ignored by officials in the Health Minister's office. As we have seen for decades, these cuts and privatization will not save money -- at least not for patients -- but they will fragment care, worsen access, and lead to wholesale privatization and two-tier health care.
It is time to draw a line in the sand.
STOP private clinics
SAVE our local public hospitals
OUR RESPONSE MUST MATCH THE THREAT
For more information, please contact Sue Hotte : firstname.lastname@example.org
Our response must be equal to the size of the threat. It is time that we stand up and make ourselves heard, before it is too late. Regular Ontarians from every walk of life -- local businesses, seniors, care workers, health professionals, students, all of us who care about equal access to health care based on need not wealth -- we all have a vital interest in saving our community hospitals.
We are calling for our biggest demonstration ever. We are asking everyone to take one day to lend your voice to protect vital services that everyone in our communities need.
Over the spring and summer, we gathered more than 90,000 votes to stop the cuts to public hospitals and the plans for private clinics. So far, no contracts have been issued and the Toronto Star recently exposed horrific stories of damage to patients' health as a result of poor infection control and poor quality of care practices in private clinics.
We have a window of opportunity to stop the private clinics and force the government to deal with the fact that the public does not want a model of fragmented, privatized, inequitable and poor quality regional hospital care. This is a key issue in virtually every community. We need to get the word out and ask people to take a stand now.
Buses will be organized from communities across Southern and Mid-Ontario as far north as Sudbury and North Bay.