Andrea Horwath Vows to Fight for Healthcare

New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath
New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath

New Democrats Say Healthcare Can’t Become a ‘Cash Show’

QUEEN’S PARK — “Doug Ford’s calculating plan to cut, add bureaucracy and turn our health care system into a cash show for private corporations is wrong, and I’m not letting it happen without a fight,” charges Andrea Horwath, leader of the New Democrats.

Horwath’s comments come as the Ontario Government has released a report on the future of healthcare in Ontario. The Premier’s Council on Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine in its first report provides an overview of the problem of hallway health care in Ontario. “There’s much to be proud of in our health care system. However, there are also many barriers that make the system difficult to navigate for patients and providers,” said Special Advisor and Chair of the Council Dr. Rueben Devlin. “This report is a first step in advising the government on how to transform Ontario’s health care system.”

The goal of this Council is to provide strategic advice to the Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care that will help to ensure Ontarians have a health care system that has the right mix of health care professionals, the right number of hospital and long-term care beds, and that care is available when and where it’s needed.

The Devlin Report and a troubling health care privatization bill obtained by the Ontario NDP reveal that Doug Ford is revving up for severe cuts and privatization in Ontario’s health care system — cuts and privatization NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she’ll fight to stop.

Internal government documents obtained by the NDP, including a draft of the legislation, lays out Ford’s plan to create a new “Super Agency health bureaucracy,” with a specific mandate to privatize health services such as hospitals. On Thursday, the Ford government released a report from a member of Doug Ford’s inner circle, Reubin Devlin, which appears to set the stage for that health care privatization and the deep cuts. Ford is paying Devlin, who comes from his political campaign, about a million dollars to craft that and other reports.

“Every Ontarian who’s ever rushed a sick child to the emergency room, or seen an elderly parent through a medical crisis, knows that our world-class health care system is hanging by a thread after decades of cuts and underfunding by Liberal and Conservative governments — including 15 years of the Wynne Liberals’ cuts,” said Horwath. “But the people of Ontario don’t believe the solution to cuts is more cuts, and they certainly don’t believe the answer is privatizing our health care system.”

Ford’s plan for super-bureaucracies would make the current LHIN system worse, making the bureaucracy bigger and further away from the community level. For rural and Northern Ontario, where services are already harder to access, the concern is even greater.

“Ontarians deserve a government that invests in front-line health care to shorten wait times and end hallway medicine. In short, when it comes to health care in Ontario, people deserve more from their government, not less.”

Labour Determined to Fight “Leaked” Legislation

The Ontario Federation of Labour demands that the Premier throw out the draft legislation leaked today and scrap all plans for the privatization of health care in Ontario. The leaked draft includes the government’s plan for creating a super-agency with extraordinary powers over the delivery of health care across Ontario.

“By destroying the public health care system, this draft bill clears a pathway for privatization. This bill would make it difficult or near impossible for many to get the care they need, increase costs for all, and put Ontarians at the mercy of a for-profit health care system,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “This Bill would put our public health care system on its death bed. The Premier can save lives in this province by ensuring this shameful bill is never tabled at Queen’s Park. Instead of gutting the health care system, he should be rebuilding it.”

The leaked draft legislation details the creation of a super-agency that would have the power to force the closure of any institution that provides health services, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community health centers.

“The labour movement is vehemently opposed to any plan to reduce, underfund or privatize public services, anywhere in Ontario,” said Buckley. “Ontarians certainly didn’t give Doug Ford a mandate to privatize our healthcare system, and we are going to fight like hell at every step, and across this province to make sure that he doesn’t.”

Ontario has the fewest hospital beds, the highest number of hospital readmissions and the lowest number of nursing hours per patient of any province in Canada.

“Forced mergers and closures are not what Ontario needs. What we need is a plan for better publicly funded health care,” said Buckley. “We need a health care system that provides for every person in this province, with sufficient infrastructure to support the number of beds that are actually needed to care for Ontarians when they are sick.”