Attempt at health care privatization sign of conflict within Ford government

“Government by chaos is no prescription for Ontario’s health.” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Ottawa (04 Feb. 2019) — A leaked health care privatization bill gives a glimpse into a Progressive Conservative Party that is rotting from the inside, according to  Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). Thomas says the leak exposes internal party conflict and proves that Doug Ford’s government is out to lunch on health care.

Privatization of health care the opposite of what people want

“Health care is the third rail of Canadian politics — touch it and you’ll get burned,” said Thomas. “Ford’s flirtation with privatized health care shows just how little he values the people’s priorities. This leak smells like mutiny on the horizon.

“It’s time for Ford to smarten up and listen up,” said Thomas. “It’s time to listen to the people of Ontario and to the frontline health care workers and their unions who are the real health system experts.”

OPSEU/NUPGE represents more than 50,000 health care workers in Ontario’s hospitals, ambulance services, long-term care homes, community health care, mental health care, and blood services and diagnostics. 

Restructuring costly way to privatize by stealth

A draft bill leaked this week revealed the Ford government’s plan to dismantle Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and replace them with a health care “super agency” with the power to force mergers and closures of any health care institutions in Ontario.

“Restructuring always costs taxpayers more for less,” said Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer of OPSEU/NUPGE. “Despite a lot of buzzwords like ‘integration’ and ‘efficiency,’ it’s really about finding 'innovative’ ways to make money off health care. This is privatization by stealth and it’s a plan that’s sure to backfire — no wonder Ford threw his rarely-seen Health Minister Christine Elliott in front of this one to take the heat."   

“We mustn’t forget former premier Mike Harris’s failed attempt at health care restructuring,” said Almeida. “His government cut $800 million from Ontario’s health care budget, but spent $880 million on the restructuring to do it, all in the name of ‘finding efficiencies.’ Ford should know the people won’t be fooled by sleazy slogans.” 

Super agency will have same problem as LHINs, but with higher price tag

“The LHINs aren’t perfect, but creating a new super agency won’t fix those problems,” said Thomas. “It’ll be more of the same, but with a huge price tag. If Ford cared about improving health care, he’d redirect money from the tiers of administration and management to the frontlines of care. He’d focus on investing in public services like health and education that make life more affordable for Ontarians, and he’d meet with the frontline experts and their union immediately."

“Government by chaos is no prescription for Ontario’s health.”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE