Official Opposition vows to keep leading effort to protect public system, shore up hospitals
QUEEN’S PARK – The NDP says new polling from the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) shows that people across the province are worried about the health care crisis, and they’re rejecting Doug Ford’s scheme to send surgeries to for-profit companies. Interim Ontario NDP Leader Peter Tabuns and NDP Health critic France Gélinas are vowing that New Democrats will keep leading the effort to stop Ford’s privatization scheme, and protect and shore up the province’s precious public health care system.
Polling released by the OFL Tuesday confirmed most Ontarians are worried about the state of health care in Ontario, and 55 per cent of Ontarians blame the Ford government for the current crisis. What’s more, the poll found 59 per cent of respondents opposed relying more on private for-profit health care providers to solve the health care crisis, which is exactly what the Ford government is doing.
“Ontarians recognize the health care crisis for what it is, and they reject Doug Ford’s scheme to sell off parts of our precious public health care,” said Tabuns. “Hospitals across Ontario are overburdened. Parents with sick little ones are waiting more than 10 hours just to get someone to see them. ERs in remote communities are shutting down. But instead of sending help to hospitals, this government has been focused on privatization.”
In November, Gélinas introduced a private member’s bill to stop for-profit clinics from improperly billing Ontarians for OHIP-covered services. But the Conservatives voted down the Health Care is Not for Sale Act, which would have introduced penalties such as fines and licence suspensions for clinics and professionals who force patients to pull out their credit card.
“We have proof that the Ford government believes it’s okay for Ontarians to be forced to use their credit card to access essential OHIP-covered health care services,” said Gélinas. “They rejected my proposal to crack down on the exploitative practice of charging patients extra fees for services that are covered by their OHIP card.”
The OFL also found that 76 per cent of Ontarians believe it is not fair to cap wages for nurses and other health professionals at one per cent when inflation is so high. Meanwhile, Ford’s government is plowing ahead with an appeal of the court decision overturning its wage-capping legislation, Bill 124.
“We know that Bill 124 pushed nurses away in droves, and the Ford Conservatives refuse to offer incentives to bring them back,” said Gélinas. “Time and time again, Ford’s Conservatives have rejected the NDP’s solution to recruit, retain, and return health care workers by giving them competitive benefits and wages.”
Other solutions the NDP has been calling for include investments in health care and stronger safety standards to improve working conditions for hospital staff.
“Ontarians hold public health care near and dear,” said Tabuns. “They see the crisis in our hospitals. They know what’s at stake. They know privatization would be disastrous. And they want the Ford government to act with urgency and take the steps to fix the staffing crisis so we can restore the world-class public health care system Ontarians deserve.”