April 23, 2023
Ontario Health Coalition
Province-Wide Community Referendum
to Stop Ford Government’s Privatization of Our Public Hospitals
Health Coalitions across Ontario launched a major fightback to stop the privatization of our public hospitals today.
The Coalition is mounting a community-run referendum. Health Coalitions are organizing voting stations outside grocery stores, local corner stores, coffee shops, at Legions and community centres and in every busy part of our communities that we can.
On Friday May 26 and Saturday May 27 we will hold the referendum. More than a thousand voting stations will be open across Ontario. Leading in, throughout the month of May, online voting will be available on the main website PublicHospitalVote.ca and workplace votes will take place.
The Ford government has now announced it is moving forward with plans to “significantly” [their words] expand privatization of surgeries and diagnostics and private hospitals and clinics to for-profit clinics and hospitals. They have brought in new legislation to facilitate this plan. They have used their majority to vote down all recommended amendments to the legislation, and Bill 60, which is in Third Reading debate in the Legislature, is expected to pass this week. They will use their majority to pass the bill, even though Ontarians have never had any say over this plan to privatize our hospitals.
In fact, the Ford government said that they would NOT do this in the lead in to the election, then two months after the election, they announced they were moving forward with the privatization of our core public hospitals’ services.
- The government has already called for bids for three new private day hospitals to do 14,000 cataract surgeries initially as well as diagnostics.
- They have given repeated boosts of tens of millions in new to expand existing private clinics to cover care for “thousands of patients”.
- They are expanding the number of private clinics and intend to further expand the volumes as well as to expand the types of surgeries they privatize. They plan to have private hip and knee surgeries up and running by 2024.
- At the same time the government has underspent the health care budget and the COVID budget every year by billions of dollars. The most recent figures show that while we are underspent on health care by $1.25 billion, the Ontario government has increased funding massively for the private for-profit clinics and hospitals. It is a big transfer of money from our public health care services to for-profits.
Practically every public hospital in Ontario has operating rooms that shut down at 4 p.m. and on weekends, or are closed for weeks or even permanently, due to lack of funding and staffing. We do not need new operating rooms — only now they would be owned by for-profit companies. We need our government to support our local public hospitals which have the lowest funding in Canada.
Our assessment is that this is very serious and extremely urgent. The premier told media that 50% of the surgeries currently done in hospitals are “easy” [and thus could be transferred out of public hospitals]. Surgeries, MRIs and CTs are core public hospital services.
This is not an add on, it is the privatization of our core public hospital services. The loss of these surgeries – and the staff and funding that go with them — would be devastating to all local public hospitals and would gut the services that remain in many of the medium and small hospitals.
While paying lip service to the idea that Ontarians will” pay with their OHIP card not their credit card”, in Bill 60, the Ford government expressly allows the for-profit clinics to sell an increasing array of medically unnecessary add-ons to needed surgeries and diagnostics. The Canada Health Act, which bans user fees and extra charges for patients for access to physicians, surgeries and diagnostic tests, is being ignored by the government. Patients are increasingly reporting exorbitant charges for their needed health care including access to doctors, tests and surgeries — things for which no patient in Canada should ever be charged. There is little question that the Premier is playing both sides, claiming you will always “pay with your OHIP card” and expanding two-tier charges for patients as it privatizes a whole array of services.
If this government succeeds in privatizing our public hospitals, we will lose our public hospital system and with it, single-tier public medicare.
The Fightback: A Community-Run Referendum across Ontario
On Tuesday, April 18, Health Coalitions across Ontario will launch a major fightback to stop the privatization of our public hospitals. The Coalition is mounting a community-run referendum. Health Coalitions are organizing voting stations outside grocery stores, local corner stores, coffee shops, at Legions and community centres and in every busy part of our communities that we can.
On Friday May 26 and Saturday May 27 we will hold the referendum. More than a thousand voting stations will be open across Ontario. Leading in, throughout the month of May online voting will be available on the main website PublicHospitalVote.ca and workplace votes will take place.
Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?
People can vote “Yes” or “No”.
(Please do not use this email to vote! We are not accepting email votes. You will be able to vote online after May 2 at PublicHospitalVote.ca or in your community during the month of May as per the details here.)
Who can vote
All Ontario residents who are aged 16 or older. You must take a pledge to only vote once and on that pledge form, which is separate from your vote, give your address to help ensure the integrity of the vote.
Referendum Campaign Timeline
o April 18, 10 a.m. Press conferences across Ontario to launch the referendum
In these press conferences we will announce the dates of the referendum, the referendum question, and the date that results will be announced.
o May 2, 10 a.m. Press conferences across Ontario to release list of voting stations
In these press conferences we will reiterate the dates of the referendum, the referendum question, advance polls (online voting), and the list of voting stations in each community. Online voting will commence.
o May 8 – 19 – Workplace votes
During this period workplace votes should take place. There is some flexibility for those who need to do it earlier (not before May 2 if possible) or end later (not after May 23 if possible so that the local coalitions have time before the street voting to chase down workplace votes that are not dropped off).
o Friday May 26 – Saturday May 27 – Referendum Street Votes across Ontario
o May 28 – Hard deadline to get voting totals reported to Ontario Health Coalition
o May 30 – 10 a.m. Press Conferences across Ontario to announce results
o May 31 – 12 – 1 p.m. Delivery of ballots to Queen’s Park
Everyone who is able, bring ballots in to Queen’s Park for media event in front of the Legislature.
How You Can Help
- Help find voting stations in your town/regionThe focus this month is to get all the voting stations arranged. We are asking local stores — wherever it is busy — a corner store where there is a gas station, convenience stores, retail outlets, grocery stores, coffee shops. We are also asking community centres, neighbourhood centres, non-profit agencies, seniors’ centres, Legions, and other busy places. It is a community opinion vote and it is about democracy. These are decisions regarding the future of our local public hospitals and the services we need. We will find volunteers to staff the voting stations on Friday May 26 and Saturday May 27. If you will help find voting stations, or if you own a local business and can help, please let your local health coalition know. The list of local coalitions is here and has contact info. If your community is not on the list, please contact us at the Ontario Health Coalition at 416-441-2502 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Organize workplace votes in every workplace possibleduring the month of May. If you own a business, are in a union, work in a business, a public service or a non-profit and you can help hold a vote in the lunchroom or at shift change, or however it works in your workplace, please do help. The list of local contacts across Ontario where you can get ballots, ballot boxes/envelopes and the materials you need to hold a vote – and where you can return them when you are done — is attached. (See pdf attachment to this email.) If your community is not on the list, please contact us at the Ontario Health Coalition at 416-441-2502 email@example.com.
- Donate(click to go to the link) to help build the scale of the referendum. We have thousands of volunteers working across the province now. We have to pay for leaflets, ballots, fact sheets, lawn signs, window signs, car decals, organizers to support the local volunteers and more. We can build the referendum as big as we have the funding and resources to do,
- Help find volunteersfor the votes outside businesses and community hubs at the end of May. We will need tens of thousands of volunteers to staff a thousand or more voting stations outside local coffee shops, grocery stores, at Legions and community centres and more. Volunteers can get in touch with their local coalitions to help here.
- Volunteer with your local health coalition or with the Ontario Health Coalition. Volunteers can get in touch with their local coalitions to help here.
Please note: We are urgently looking for volunteers in the Sudbury Area, Muskoka, Kenora-Rainy River to help set up the referendum in those communities.
Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8