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CKMS Community Connections for 20 February 2023 with Jim Stewart of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition

Show Notes

Jim Stewart in 2022

Jim Stewart of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition joins Bob Jonkman by phone to discuss the state of public health in Ontario, and to talk about the upcoming pickets in support of the Ontario Nurses’ Association this Thursday, 23 February 2023 at St. Mary’s Hospital and Grand River Hospital.

Waterloo Region Health Coalition:

Ontario Health Coalition:

The Waterloo Region Health Coalition previously on Radio Waterloo:

Upcoming Events

The Waterloo Region Health Coalition has confirmed that Thursday’s pickets are on, regardless of weather.

Better Staffing Care Wages | ONA Ontario Nurses' Association (pink and white lettering on a black background. "Better" is tilted on its side so it's an adjective for all three of "Staffing", "Care", "Wages")

  • Picket at St. Mary’s Hospital
    • When: Thursday 23 February 2023, One Hour commencing at 11:00am until Noon
    • Where: St Mary’s General Hospital
    • Location: 911 Queen’s Boulevard, Kitchener Map 1
    • Contact: Jennifer Cepukus, ONA Local 139 Coordinator/Bargaining Unit President
  • Picket at Grand River Hospital
    • When: Thursday 23 February 2023, One Hour commencing at 12:30pm until 1:30pm
    • Where: Grand River General Hospital
    • Location: 835 King Street West, Kitchener Map 2
    • Contact: Deanna Dowsett, ONA Local 55 Coordinator/Bargaining Unit President
    •  or: Stephanie Hamill, ONA Local 55 Vice President

More information on pickets across Ontario:


Download: ckms-community-connections-2023-02-20-episode114.mp3 (49.2 MB, 51m09s, episode 114)


All songs today are new releases from (B&W solarized, elongated, wiggly photo of four men)Living Room for Small.

Time Title
0m00s Theme for CKMS Community Connections ccc Steve Todd
0m59s what’s my issue (idk) (Living Room for Small)
4m29s Welcoming Jim Stewart back to the studio. Jim explains the crisis in Ontario health care. Funding for the pandemic came from the Federal government ($6.5 billion for all of Canada by March 2022, according to a government press release).
6m48s Premier Doug Ford has capitalized on the backlog in surgeries as a result of the pandemic, but surgical backlogs are happening globally. Taking advantage of Ontario’s backlog to begin privatization is “absolutely despicable”. Nurses in New York are striking over their work conditions, we have the same conditions in Ontario. Nurses in Ontario aren’t on strike yet, but there will be pickets by nurses in front of hospitals across Ontario, including St. Mary’s and Grand River hospitals in Kitchener.
9m52s Doug Ford’s do-nothing strategies has resulted in Ontario being in last place for per-capita health care funding, last in numbers of beds per-capita, and dead last in the number of nurses per-capita. The Health Coalitions would like to see Ontario get back to an average rating, but the current privatization strategy will only make it worse. The right-wing mantra is to create a crisis, then claim that privatization is the only solution. But it is well known that privatization only makes these metrics worse. The Ontario government has been underfunding health care by $900 million, according to finance critic Catherine Fife, NDP MPP for Waterloo. And the plan in the new budget is to reduce health care spending by 2024 even more, by $5 billion dollars, according to Liberal health critic Dr. Adil Shamji. It is unlikely that we will ever be able to come back to a public health care system. At the same time, Doug Ford has been transferring funds from our public hospitals to independent health care facilities, to move 50% of our surgeries to for-profit, private clinics. And Doug Ford has introduced Bill 124 to reduce the wages of nurses and other medical professionals, resulting in nurses leaving our public hospitals, and making recuitment for new nurses dreadful. We have massive vacancies in nursing staffing levels. The crisis Doug Ford has created is a political decision, to proceed with privatization of the public health care system. There are over 1137 pro-privatization health care lobbyists at Queen’s Park. The WRHC thinks privatization is a disaster for public health care, a fatal blow for our hospitals, especially small and medium hospitals.
16m18s Privatization has been happening for several years with diagnostic imaging and blood tests, now transferred to cataract surgeries and other opthalmic procedures. Private clinics will only take the easiest, most profitable cases. OHIP will pay $610 per cataract, but only $400 when done in a public hospital. In addition there are facility fees for maintenance and administration in private clinics. In 2014 OHIP paid $198 million in procedural fees, but $434 million for facility fees. OHIP is paying this extra money for building and administering private clinics. This is not in the public interest, since we have the surgical capacity in our existing hospitals.
20m01s Private clinics take the easy surgeries at greater expense, so our underfunded and understaffed public hospitals will need to deal with the more complex surgeries. Jim again calls this despicable. There are 24,000 vacancies for health care professionals, 140 in Waterloo Region alone. Then the call drops, and Bob introduces the next song.
22m11s the death of u (Living Room for Small)
26m48s Jim was talking about the band Kroka, and Bob suggests they come in to the studio for a Live, On-Air, In-Studio performance!
27m28s Are we losing the health care battle? We have the capability of stopping privatization. Jim explains the structure of the Ontario Health Coalition and the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, non-partisan organizations. Everyone Jim knows supports the public health care system, which is why Jim is so disturbed by the announcements to privatize. The former Ontario minister of health, Christine Elliott, made an announcement in February 2-2022 that they would privatize health care. This was an existential threat to public health care. Jim was interviewed by The Record about this announcement, but when The Record contacted the Ontario ministry of health for a response they said what the WRHC was saying was categorically false, although Jim had a recording of Christine Elliott’s announcement. The OHC and WRHC launched a campaign with lawn signs and radio spots. All during the election the Ontario PC Party denied any plans to privatize. They offered no campaign platform and didn’t show up for all-candidate meetings. But two months after the election they announced 50% privatization again. Jim and the health coalitions are finding out from Ontarians whether the government has a mandate to privatize.
34m48s There are other organizations that care about public health care. We have to take some ownership; if Ontario decides to privatize health care it will happen across the country. We’ll have American style medical debt and medical bankrupcy. Some 150 million Americans have at least $10,000USD of medical debt; 50% of all American bankrupcies are due to medical debt.
36m27s What’s the trend for privatization in the rest of the world? No, it’s not happening globally. The OECD countries all have publicly funded systems. There are some examples of alternative systems, we could consider adopting some of those strategies. There are some countries that have some privatization, but it’s difficult to compare those systems to ours; Jim describes the French system, which includes pharmaceuticals, dental, and eye care. There may be private insurace for a private room, but that’s the ancillary care, not the primary health care. Germany has private health care only for the very rich, but the overwhelming majority of Germans are covered by their national health care. By contrast, in Ontario all our doctors have private practices, all our laboratory services are private, much of our medical imaging is privatized, about 70% of our long-term care is privatized, and home care is almost 100% privatized. All we have left is our public hospitals. And now 50% of surgeries are to be privatized. We are working against the global trend, we need to think about re-establishing public health care system we believe should be there.
40m29s Would there be some advantage to having a national health care system instead of a provincial one? Constitutionally we have the Canada Health Act with requires the provinces to administer health care in a public fashion, but it doesn’t force provinces to deliver health care in any meaningful way with a public methodology. In Alberta their private health care delivery hasn’t work; surgical wait lists grew. But it has been a lucrative business. The proposed Ontario privatization will still be paid through OHIP, so surgeries will be paid at a premium rate; surgeons can make an extra $200 by performing surgery in their private clinics. And who is deliver the care now? Where do the nurses, medical technologists, and physicians come from? They come from the public system, there are only a limited pool of human resources. And so the public system will have enormously long wait lists for surgeries and other procedures. But a fully public health care system has better outcomes at lower costs. This can be seen between the partly private NHS system in England compared to the public NHS in Scotland. NHS in England is barely surviving, will never go back to a public system, and that’s Jim’s big fear for Ontario.
45m30s What are the Ontario and Waterloo Region Health Coalitions doing? They’re lobbying the government directly, and talk to the media, and support local initiatives such as the ONA picket lines Thursday 23 February 2023. Come out and tell the media we are not supportive of privatizing our public health care system; we want the reverse, a fully funded public health care system, to grow it and strengthen it and finance it properly with the right kind of human resources and financial resources. Join the Waterloo Region Health Coalition which is made of concerned citizens who want to take action. The best way to join is through their Facebook website or send Jim an e-mail at Also the OHC website, WRHC has regular monthly meetings on Zoom, Jim hopes to go back to in-person meetings soon. There are also individual memberships to the OHC, join up and be a Health Care Defender. They’re looking for people to report on fees being charged for surgeries &c. Pickets at the hospitals are right at the main entrance, an hour at each hospital, just show up.
50m09s End credits.

CKMS Community Connections Hour One airs on CKMS-FM 102.7 on Monday from 11:00am to Noon, and Hour Two airs alternate Fridays from 3:00pm to 4:00pm.

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Bonus Video

YouTube: CKMS Community Connections for Monday, 20 February 2023

Show notes and podcast interview content is Copyright © 2023 by the participants, and released under a CC BYCreative Commons Attribution Only license. Copy, re-use, and derivative works are allowed with attribution to Radio Waterloo and a link to this page. Music selections are copyright by the respective rights holders.

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