71% of residents polled in PC-held ridings in Ottawa, Glengarry, Renfrew and Pembroke say they don’t support the massive changes the PCs are planning to make to the province’s health system.

Initially, these health system changes included merging the province’s 150 hospitals into 30-50 mega hospitals, privatizing services and subsuming care coordination done through Local Health Integration Networks and the province’s highly regarded Cancer Care Ontario into a new “super agency.” However, recently the Ford government announced even more changes to health services. Over a billion dollars in provincial funding is being cut from public health prevention programs as well as the amalgamation of 35 public health units down to 10 and the merging of 59 municipal ambulance services into 10.

Commissioned by CUPE Ontario and CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), the poll was conducted at the end of February in ridings that elected a PC MPP in the June 2018 election. The poll did not include the most recent PC plans for public health cuts and paramedic services amalgamations.

“The poll results show clearly that even in ridings where just 10 months ago PC MPPs were elected, the majority of people are not on board with any of these changes. We believe that most Ontarians inherently understand the magnitude of the chaos and upheaval Premier Ford and the PCs are unleashing on patients and they don’t support it,” says OCHU/CUPE President Michael Hurley.

“Further,” says Hurley, “because privatization of clinical and support services is at the heart of this government restructuring, ultimately, our members will do what needs to be done to protect the services that they deliver. We are building widespread opposition against this PC plan and recently formed an alliance with other health care unions and community public health care advocates to ensure public health care is not attacked.”

Residents, in Nepean, Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, Kanata—Carleton, Carleton, Ottawa West—Nepean ridings held by PC-MPPs, were asked whether they supported different aspects of the PC restructuring of hospitals, long-term care and home and community care. The poll also probed whether there was support for privatization of several health services and whether respondents thought this kind of restructuring would save any money.

Only respondents who completed the poll in its entirety have been included in the data findings, which include the following:

  • 71% don’t support the proposed PC plans to restructure health care;
  • 76% don’t agree that Ontario’s 150 hospitals should be merged into 30-50 super hospitals;
  • 77% don’t think merging health care providers will save the province money;
  • 69% don’t think that merging hospitals, long-term care and other providers, will end hallway health care at their community hospital;
  • 76% don’t think that Ontario needs another level of bureaucracy in the form of a super-agency;
  • 66% don’t support using for-profit corporations to provide health care services;
  • 66% don’t support increasing privatized delivery of home care.

CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn says that the PCs “didn’t consult with Ontarians about these health system changes, and they don’t have the public’s support to make them, the polling shows. Keep in mind, this polling was done before the PC cuts to public health. We believe Ontarians understand the value of public health prevention programs – like containing infections and communicable diseases. Cutting them is dangerous and the PCs are putting us all at risk.”

Hundreds of health care staff and their allies in Ottawa and surrounding eastern Ontario communities will be joining thousands more for a provincial rally opposing the PC health care restructuring tomorrow, (Tuesday, April 30) at Queen’s Park.

Heather Duff, chair of CUPE Ontario’s health care workers group, notes that 1,594 people and groups applied to speak on the restructuring bill the PCs rammed through the legislature earlier this month. Only 30 people and groups were heard. “Public health care is very important to Ontarians and it’s why thousands are going to tomorrow’s rally at Queen’s Park; they are opposed to this restructuring and demanding to be heard by the PCs at their doorstep – our provincial Parliament.”

Similar polls were conducted in PC-held ridings across Ontario and the findings will be released throughout April and May.