The Peterborough Examiner
Coalition opposes private clinics
Health groups push back against Ontario measures
The Peterborough Health Coalition joined with provincial health coalitions across Canada who held an online press conference on Tuesday to express opposition to privatized health care.
Bill 60, the Your Health Act, approved May 8 in the Ontario Legislature, aims to speed up access to health care services by having private clinics offer more OHIP-paid surgical and diagnostic services, such as cataract, knee and hip surgeries, and giving pharmacists power to prescribe medications for some illnesses, to free up hospitals to concentrate on other services.
The Ontario Health Coalition has vowed to push back against the new measures.
“It’s the underfunding of the system, in my opinion, that is driving and creating a crisis,” said Marion Burton, co-chair of the Peterborough Health Coalition.
“And that’s what they (the Ontario government) want, because they want to be able to say, look what the private system can offer to support this system that’s not giving us everything we need.”
At Tuesday’s press conference, members of various provincial health coalitions from provinces where for-profit clinics have been established argued the clinics have not reduced wait times and have cost patients more money.
“Just this morning, the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta released a new report, looking at the last three years, called the Alberta Surgical Initiative and Declining Surgical Capacity,” said Chris Gallaway, of Friends of Medicare.
“Some of the conclusions I want to highlight include the Alberta Surgical Initiative increased staffing shortages and destabilized our public hospitals. The government of Alberta repeatedly said it would increase the number of surgeries performed in Alberta, it did not.”
The Peterborough Health Coalition does not want private clinics in the Peterborough area, Burton said.
“Primary care is significantly lacking with the retirement of many of
our family physicians, but there’s great multidisciplinary models out there that support the needs of patients of all ages in communities,” she said.
Staffing and wait time problems would be better addressed by putting this funding into the public sector, as opposed to private businesses that are only there to make a profit, she said.
“If they would invest more in those models, I think it would attract a lot more doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, physiotherapists,” she said.
“Because it spreads the burden of care over a larger group of workers.”
Burton said she hopes the legislation will be overturned after provincewide voting in the provincial health coalition’s citizen-run referendum on May 26 and 27, including at 20 voting stations in Peterborough city and county.
“It will maybe force the government to slow down this road that it’s going on,” she said. “And take a look at what the people really want, as far as what their public health care system can provide.”