VIDEO: Ontario's public health system on life support

Coalition says the Doug Ford government is manufacturing a crisis to privatize public hospitals
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A healthcare coalition is calling for people to “pour into the streets” in Ontario to protest Premier Doug Ford's deliberate inaction on the ever-worsening hospital crisis.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), which organized rallies in December in cities across the province, says provincial funding cuts are directly causing the crisis.

Healthcare workers have been sounding the alarm for months that the Ford government is intentionally manufacturing a crisis to justify privatization.

NDP MPP for Toronto-Danforth Peter Tabuns said that if Ford succeeds in privatizing Ontario’s health system, it will mean a “real drop in people’s standard of living.”

“The reality is when you have privatized services, it’s more money coming out of people’s pockets, which means some people have to borrow money, beg for money, move money away from things like food and rent for something as critical as healthcare,” he said at the December 12 rally in Toronto.

Adil Shamji, a physican and Ontario Liberal MPP for Don Valley East, said Ford’s policies have directly led to the demoralization of health workers. “It’s not just nurses. It’s respiratory therapists, paramedics, lab technologists, all of whom are leaving their profession in droves because they don’t feel valued.”

Daylon Dickhout, a nurse who attended the Toronto rally, says patients who have been forced to wait for hours in a crowded emergency room often take their frustration out on frontline workers like him. “It’s just at a point where it’s not worth it anymore.”

“The reality is when you have privatized services, it’s more money coming out of people’s pockets, which means some people have to borrow money, beg for money, move money away from things like food and rent for something as critical as healthcare”

The Ontario Health Coalition has been tracking hospital cuts and service closures for more than two decades, and said in a news release that it “has never seen the crisis in our public hospitals reach the extreme state in which we find ourselves currently.”

The OHC reports:

  • Almost 100 emergency departments have been temporarily closed in recent months along with ICUs, maternity services and others. These closures are continuous.
  • Sick and disabled children are being turned away from overwhelmed pediatric emergency departments.
  • More than 1000 occurrences of Code Zero, in which all ambulances are taken and there are none left in a region, have happened in the last year in Ontario.
  • Patients’ surgeries and diagnostic tests are being cancelled and delayed.
  • Nurses, health professionals and other staff have left in very significant numbers and continue to leave.

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, says that people’s lives are at stake. “This is not the time for games, denial or lies. Enough. We demand action to address this crisis and we demand the Ford government stop using the crisis as cover to privatize our public hospitals.”

The OHC says Ontario needs more than 50,000 long-term care staff and more than 40,000 hospital staff as well as more funding for its hospitals instead of privatizing health care services.

“A recruitment drive in the magnitude of tens of thousands is what is actually needed to stabilize the system,” it states.

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