With over 100 residents who came to the Bill 74 Town Meeting on March 27, the Kawartha Lakes Health Coalition members and residents are growing concerned with the impacts of Bill 74.
This new legislation is being pushed through the legislature quickly, notes a press release, with an expected passage on April 10, just one day before budget day. As there is a PC majority, this bill will pass and the KLHC says it is prepared to fight the implementation of this massive restructuring of our health care system.
Executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, Natalie Mehra, released a statement regarding the public hearings at the Standing Committee on Social Policy this morning.
“The process by which this legislation was introduced and has been moved through our provincial parliament is reckless and profoundly undemocratic. Major policy changes regarding vital health care services impacting more than 18 million Ontarians require proper public consultation, meaningful feedback and honest debate. This legislation was forged in secret without any public consultation. The Health Minister has never admitted publicly to the sweeping new powers she has written into the legislation giving herself and the government’s appointees in the Super Agency to order, direct, coerce and otherwise force the largest round of health services restructuring our province has ever witnessed. She has never admitted that there are more than five separate sections in the new law that grant the government and its appointees powers to force health service privatization. This legislation has been rushed through first and second reading in the Ontario Legislature at extraordinary speed so as to limit debate and reduce the time allowed for Ontarians to learn what the legislation means for them.
“Worse, Cabinet created the Super Agency and has even named most of its Board Members before the Legislation has even been passed in our provincial parliament. In so doing, they have made a mockery of our system of parliamentary democracy.
“The public was given, at most, one-and-a-half days of notice to apply for standing to present before the Standing Committee on the new legislation. Even with the scant notice, more than 1,500 Ontarians applied for standing. There are only two part-days of hearings in Toronto and no hearings elsewhere in the province in which there are 30 spaces to present to the Standing Committee. Approximately 1,500 people and organizations that applied for standing will not be heard. We object in the strongest possible terms to what can only be described as an attempt to circumvent public scrutiny and debate. Ontario’s health care system is understood to be a public system. Ontario residents fund it, we have contributed more than a hundred years in our local communities to building our local health care services, and we rely on them from birth to death. This legislation takes away all last vestiges of local control over our health care services…”
(To read Mehra’s full statement, go here.)
The coalitions will be pushing the Committee to amend Bill 74 that specifies that no integrations shall result in a cut to or closure of any local, small, or rural hospital, and that our health care services shall not result in loss, closure, or reduction in any form.
This “poorly written legislation,” according to the Coalition, offers no procedural protections and the people of Ontario should have the right to be involved in the decision-making process and have the right to appeal any such decision that the Minister or Agency make.
The Kawartha Lakes Health Coalition will be circulating a petition in order to guarantee that health care is protected and local control is maintained.
“We are preparing an upcoming day of action in which leaflets, buttons, and stickers will be circulated to bring awareness to this issue and show the Government of Ontario that doors that open up our health care to privatization is a non-starter in Kawartha Lakes,” according to a press release.
On April 30 the KLHC is offering a free public bus to residents around Kawartha Lakes to attend a ‘Rally to Protect Our Health Care’ at Queen’s Park. The bus will leave the Lindsay Square Mall at 9:30 am. Anyone interested in attending should contact the KLHC to book their spot.