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The Attack on Public Health Care

The provincial Conservative government began by contracting out all home health care. It then cut $100 million in OHIP coverage. It gave some nursing homes to corporations that donated to the Conservative party. Then it allowed cancer care to be privatized in Toronto, despite an auditor’s report that said it costs more.

Now They Want to Privatize Hospitals

Two “public private partnerships” (PPPs) have been announced for hospitals in Brampton and Ottawa (The William Osler Health Centre and the Royal Ottawa) . For-profit corporations would build, design, finance, own and operate these facilities. Most CUPE jobs will be up for grabs.

Just a few months after this announcement, the Eves government announced 25 for-profit MRI and CT clinics. These are vital hospital clinical services. Until now, MRIs could only be provided in hospitals by law. Even worse, if you have several hundred dollars to spare, you will be able to buy your way to the front of the line. And now, Health Minister Tony Clement has speculated that day surgery may be privatized – core hospital services.

If they can privatize these services, then nothing is safe.

The Sorry Record of For-Profit Hospitals

Britain has the most experience with PPP hospitals. The British PPP hospitals are much more expensive than public hospitals due to corporate profits and higher borrowing costs. The result? On average, they have had to cut 30% of beds and a 25% of the staff in PPP hospitals. Canadian research has shown that you are more likely to die in a for-profit hospital.

In Brampton, the local community will be stuck with part of the extra costs. Already hospital officials have speculated that costs may be $50 million more than first thought.

We Can Win – Now More than Ever!

In Prince Edward Island, a private hospital was stopped by a massive public outcry. In Nova Scotia privatized “lease-back” schools were abandoned due to public opposition.

The government hopes to sign deals for the MRI and CT scans in the next few months. It hopes the hospital deals will be signed in the spring of 2003. But the reality is – with thousands protesting and an election on its way, the government will be in major trouble if it proceeds. Now, more than at any time in recent memory we have the ability to put real pressure on this government.

The time to organize and step up the pressure is now!