New bill allows for private for-profit hospitals and more private clinics in Ontario

"Leaving things like the quality of care, safety, monitoring and enforcement to the whims of cabinet places politics ahead of our health care. It's no way to ensure the system will be available to all who need it." — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer

Toronto (27 Nov. 2017)  — The Ontario government is moving forward with legislation that lifts the ban on private hospitals, rolls private hospitals in with private clinics and renames them, offensively, Community Health Facilities. The legislation will make it easier for private hospitals and clinics to expand, and more difficult for the Minister to stop them.

In just 4 days, Ontario Liberals to eliminate 44-year ban on private hospitals

This legislation was brought in with no prior public consultation. It is a massive omnibus bill that repeals or enacts 7 entire Acts, and amends more than 30 Acts. The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) was given 5 minutes to present to the Standing Committee on this massive piece of legislation. Now there is only 4 days to try to get the worst part of it withdrawn. "Without due consideration of the consequences, the government is making a grave mistake that could easily usher in very significant new privatization and threats to our local public hospitals," says Natalie Mehra, OHC Executive Director. 

"Adding a for-profit angle to health care in Ontario is not only wrong, it's dangerous," says Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "Privatization of our health care system leaves Ontarians vulnerable to a number of risks, not only to their health but to their overall well-being."

There are problems already with how private clinics function in the province. They include patient deaths, serious safety breaches that have risked, among other things, potential infection of more than a 1,000 patients with HIV/AIDs, other serious health care quality concerns, for-profit privatization of our local hospital services, and new user fees for patients which violate of the Canada Health Act.

"We know that private health care costs everyone more and does nothing to deal with long wait times. This government either does not understand what it is doing by allowing private hospitals and increased private clinics, or they don’t care, both are not acceptable." said Ballermann. "We are calling on the government to repeal these provisions immediately and recommit to quality public health care in Ontario."

Withdraw schedule 9 now!

Schedule 9 repeals the Private Hospitals Act, the Independent Health Facilities Act and the Healing Arts Radiation Protection Act. It replaces them with euphemistically named Community Health Facilities. These changes cover more than 900 private clinics — more than 98 per cent of which are not “community health facilities” but are in fact private for-profit clinics and are often chain-owned — and 6 private for-profit hospitals. The Private Hospitals Act was brought in in 1973 and banned all future private hospitals.

"This legislation gives cabinet complete discretion to make changes to regulations that govern our health care but without public consultation and input," Ballermann said

The act empowers the Minister of Health to have wide latitude in oversight of private hospitals, and in particular, enables the Minister to revoke licences and refuse transfers. These powers are critically important. When one of the largest for-profit multinational mega-health companies in the world tried to move in and buy the Shouldice Hospital, advocates were able to ask the Minister to intervene under this act.

Call your MPP today — protect public health care

"We will work with our members and allies to pressure the government to withdraw Schedule 9. We urge people to contact your Member of Provincial Parliament to urge them protect our public health care for all Ontarians," Ballermann said. The OHC has sent an open letter to all MPPs, advising them of the long-term consequences of lifting the ban.

Please email or call your MPP and ask them to help withdraw Schedule 9 of Bill 160. 

More information:

Read Ontario Health Coalition submission on Bill 160

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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