Jim Stewart of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition returns to CKMS Community Connections to talk about the latest developments in Doug Ford’s privatization of the public healthcare system in Ontario, and tells us of the referendum to stop the privatization of public hospitals to for-profit hospitals and clinics. Polling stations are open on Friday and Saturday, 26 and 27 May 2023 at locations throughout Waterloo Region, and Ontario. You can vote online at https://publichospitalvote.ca/.
But to start, Bob reminds listeners that the deadline for signing Government of Canada petition E-4268 is Friday 26 May 2023. This petition requests parliament to extend to transgender and nonbinary people the right to claim asylum in Canada by reason of eliminationist laws in their home countries. It’s set to be one of the most-signed petitions in Canadian history, sign now before it closes!
The interview starts at 3m28s.
Waterloo Region Health Coalition:
- Website: https://www.waterloohealthcoalition.org/
- Twitter: @health_region
- Facebook: Waterloo Region Health Coalition | Facebook
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ontario Health Coalition:
- Website: https://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/
- Twitter: @OntarioHealthC
- Facebook: Ontario Health Coalition | Facebook
- Instagram: @ontariohealthcoalition | Instagram
- YouTube: Ontario Health Coalition | YouTube
- E-mail: email@example.com
The Waterloo Region Health Coalition previously on Radio Waterloo:
- 20 February 2023 with Jim Stewart
- 14 March 2022 with Barbara Shumacher and Jim Stewart
- 9 November 2020 with Jim Stewart and Riani de Wet
- 27 May 2019 with Riani de Wet and Jim Stewart
Download: ckms-community-connections-2023-05-22-episode127-Jim-Stewart-of-the-Waterloo-Region-Health-Coalition.mp3 (53 MB, 57m20s, episode 127)
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CKMS Community Connections
Bob recognizes Victoria Day, with some ideas for changing the focus away from Queen Victoria. And he gives a reminder that the Friday 26 May 2023 is the deadline for signing Government of Canada petition E-4268,
To extend to transgender and nonbinary people the right to claim asylum in Canada by reason of eliminationist laws in their home countries.
|Introducing Jim Stewart of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition . Jim talks about the province-wide citizens’ led referendum on the privatization of our core hospital services. Leaking information about privatization to the press. Documenting the discrepancies between what the Progressive Conservative Pary of Ontario promised during the election in June of 2022 with what they said eight weeks later.
|Jim tells us about the exisiting capacity of our public hospital system. There are enough operating rooms and time available that we don’t need for-profit health care. The public health capacity exists, but the funding is lacking. Jim quotes some figures of mis-spent budgets and shortfalls from lack of budgeting in the billions of dollars.
|Talking about Bill 60, now the law as Your Health Act, 2023. There are secrecy regulations built in since public health care funding is re-directed to for-profit corporations, there is no longer fiscal accountability and transparency. We don’t have a lot of options to hold the government accountable since the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario holds the majority of seats in the Legislature. As a result, they completely ignored the opposition parties when the opposition made recommendations to modify Bill 60. When WRHC visits PCO MPPs they just give the usual talking points.
|A quick digression about the number of votes, 17.8% of eligible voters, that elected a majority of seats for the Progressive Conservatives. A strong argument for proportional representation!
|Jim tells us about court cases dealing with double-billing in British Columbia. The British Columbia government disallowed double-billing, but it was appealed, and appealed to the Supreme Court, who refused to hear the case. But the Ontario government has not learned any lessons from that. Jim gives more examples of the higher bills from for-profit health clinics, which are charging for unnecessary procedures that don’t improve health outcomes. You can avoid extra billing by asking “Is this medically necessary?” and then refusing treatments which aren’t necessary. But how are non-medical citizens supposed to know? Jim refers to studies that show that for-profit health care is inferior to public health care, eg. for-profit clinics using less-skilled staff to save money (and maximize profits). Bob relates the disaster in the Long-Term Care homes, where at the start of Covid for-profit homes had far greater rates of death among residents than the publicly-funded homes.
|Jim tells us about the replacement of Ministry of Health oversight with for-profit providers overseeing for-profit clinics. This is a huge conflict of interest, but now allowed under the Your Health Act. The Act has the wording that health care can be provided by a medical professional or “another prescribed person”, which might be someone without a medical degree. That cheapens the cost of labour , and increases profits.
|There are now 1037 health care lobbyists at Queen’s Park. Right-wing think tanks like the Fraser Institute are recommending market-driven health care. This is approaching health care as provided in the United States. The people of the US are opposed to this type of for-profit health care, but the politicians are in favour. What’s in it for the politicians? They’re influenced by repetition, arguments for privatization presented in a compelling way.
|Jim gets into some specifics of the costs of proving cataract surgery, and hip and knee replacements, which are all listed in the privatization regulations. There are the procedural fees, which in for-profit clinics are 50% higher than in hospitals, and facility fees can be double in for-profit clinics compared to publicly funded hospitals. The additional fees just for cataract surgeries amount to $30.7 million dollars. Hip and knee replacement surgeries, which are much more complex and dangerous than cataract surgeries, are responsible for an additional $600 million dollars over public health care. But we’ll never know the true costs, because the freedom of information acts don’t apply to private clinics.
|CxViolet and the New People
Jim tells us of the plan: resist this by holding a citizens-led referendum this coming Friday and Saturday. Jim lists some of the locations for polling stations around Waterloo Region. But the referendum is province-wide, from Thunder Bay to Niagara Falls. WRHC is a volunteer organization and can use help to staff the polling booths. But more importantly, they need your vote. Jim reads the ballot question:
Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics? Yes or No. Jim gives a great shout-out to the churches and organizations that are providing assistance in setting up polling stations. There’s a map at https://publichospitalvote.ca/find-voting-station. It’s taken over a month to get this organized, and small army of volunteers.
|Talking about the Waterloo Region Health Coalition: About 50 core members, but membership comes and goes. All people who are constantly fighting for public health care and challenging the decisions made by the Ford administration. Jim re-iterates that public health care costs us less. Ontario is dead last for per-capita funding, and dead last for the number hospital beds per capita, dead last for the number of nurses per capita. Mr. Ford has been in power for five years, this is his responsibility. We can do as we did with Covid, provide additional funding to correct this situation. The money is there.
|Talking about petitions to the provincial government: 20,000 signatures on a petition is a lot; a million votes in the referendum is even more significant. Jim’s literature is available on the Ontario Health Coalition website. Jim lists the supporting organizations, eg. the Labour Council, the Council of Canadians, Ontario Nurses Association, Unifor, the major union groups, the Canadian Federation of University Women, Retired Teachers of Ontario. Canadians really cherish their health care; Tommy Douglas, who was responsible for universal health care in Canada was voted The Greatest Canadian (but Bob voted for Stompin’ Tom, and Jim voted for Terry Fox).
|Even though these grass-roots groups support this referendum, it is not an Elections Ontario referendum. What happens when OHC presents this to the government of Ontario? Jim thinks the government will be embarrassed. Jim hopes the media will pick this up. People across the Region who were unaware of what was happening will have an opportunity to voice their displeasure. Bob fears the government will just ignore the referendum altogether.
|Jim covers some of the financial costs of privatized, for-profit health care. 45% of all Americans typically have a medical debt load of $10,000; 60% of all bankruptcies in America are the result of health care costs. We’re starting to see medical debt in Ontario now. Jim is convinced Canadians don’t want that. Bob recaps the date and locations of the referendum, and says “Go out and vote!” Jim says that this your time to stand up for the public health care system. There is no other moment that is as important as this referendum on Friday and Saturday. Help the WRHC send a message to Mr. Ford.
|Bob thanks Jim Stewart for coming in yet again, and gives the end credits.