More than 10,000 Protesters Tell Ford Government to Stop Cuts to Public Health Care

Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra addressing thousands attending April 30th rally at Queen’s Park

“Doug Ford’s government has no mandate to impose cuts and privatization of public health care. Not a word of this was breathed in the (Jume 2018) election.” – Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition

A News Release from Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition

Posted May 1st, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Toronto – They came from across Ontario in the middle of a work day by the
thousands with a message for the Doug Ford government.

From a stage in front of the Ontario Legislature Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition called on the crowd of more than 10,000 to make enough noise that it would be heard by legislators inside the building –

More than 10,000 came from regions across Ontario, including Niagara, this April 30th to rally at Queen’s Park for Ford government to support quality public health care.Ontario Health Coalition file photos

“Doug Ford’s government has no mandate to impose cuts and privatization of public health care. Not a word of this was breathed in the election,” she said.

“Health care belongs to the people of Ontario, we fund it, and we
have worked in our communities for a century to build our public hospitals
and local health services. Mr. Ford, we are demanding that you improve it
as you promised, no to cuts, privatization and mega-mergers. If you try to
close down or privatize our local health care services, we will fight these
in every community, every step of the way.”

Patients spoke out about concerns over mega-mergers and health
restructuring. Mr. Ford has used his majority to push through a new law
giving the government and their appointees in the new Super Agency
extraordinary powers to restructure, cut, transfer, close and privatize
health services.

Cancer care patient Paul Kahnert told the crowd that previous cuts to
colonoscopy screening tests meant that his colon cancer remission was not
caught quickly enough.

He said, “I had to have chemo, and developed complications that have changed my life forever. It’s been a lot of loss.

But my experience is two stories…On one hand I came as close as a person
can to dying because of health care cuts that were made to fund corporate
tax cuts, just like Doug Ford is planning. On the other hand, the care I
got in Ontario’s cancer care system was amazing. It is no exaggeration to
say that the Ford government’s cuts and privatization plans will risk lives
if not stopped.”

Lyyli MacDonald is an organ donation recipient who had a lung transplant:
“The Trillium organ donation program saved my life, it is a model for the
world and doctors from Europe and Asia come here to learn how we do it,”
she said. “Doug Ford’s cuts and mergers and privatization are a huge threat
to patients like me. We need improvements to our health care, not the
destruction of our social safety net.”

They were joined by Shalon Armstrong, a chronic pain patient who is fearful
about leaked plans to cut almost half-a-billion in OHIP services,
potentially including chronic pain shots: “If Doug Ford wants to increase
emergency visits, worsen the mental health crisis, this is how to do it,”
she warned.

NDP leader and leader of the Official Opposition, Andrea Horwath spoke at
the rally, committing to, “Stand up for our public in government and
outside.”

She was followed by John Fraser, Leader of the Liberal Party who warned
about the Ford government’s plans for “Corporatization of our public health
care” and pledged to stand up against it.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner thanked the crowd for all their work to
protect public health care. He said, “The majority of Ontarians did not
vote for this and do not support it,” calling on Mr. Ford to stop
privatization and cuts.

Leaders of Ontario’s unions, including CUPE, Unifor, OPSEU, ONA, the
Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress were featured
as speakers, with thousands of their members who work as nurses, health
professionals, PSWs and support staff cheered.

They were joined on stage by UFCW, COPE, OSSTF, USW, ETFO and SEIU Healthcare and together they pledged to build a fightback and work with community organizations to protect and expand public health care, not privatize and cut it.

Physician Dr. Ritika Goel and dozens of paramedics spoke of their fears
about the impact of cuts, restructuring and privatization on patient care.

Local community members who have formed citizen’s committees to save their
local hospital services following the last round of restructuring told the
crowd that they now face a far bigger threat, with massive scale
restructuring planned. They vowed to stop any new attempts to cut and close
their services.

The crowd from every part of Ontario left having sent a clear message to
the Ford government: this is just the beginning, Coalition leaders said,
committing to fighting in every town across Ontario to protect our services
and insist that the Ford government live up to the election promises.

~ Protecting Public Medicare for All ~

About the Ontario Health Coalition – The Ontario Health Coalition is comprised of a Board of Directors, committees of the Board as approved in the Coalition’s annual Action Plan, Local Coalitions, member organizations and individual members. Currently the Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 400 member organizations and a network of Local Health Coalitions and individual members. Our members include: seniors’ groups; patients’ organizations; unions; nurses and health professionals’ organizations; physicians and physician organizations that support the public health system; non-profit community agencies; student groups; ethnic and cultural organizations; residents’ and family councils; retirees; poverty and equality-seeking groups; women’s organizations, and others.

For more information on the Ontario Health Coalition and its advocacy work, click on – www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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