Keep privatization out of health care

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Editor: Recently, we have been transfixed by the horrific images out of the Ukraine and the ebb and flow of the pandemic. That’s totally understandable.

But residents of Ontario must be aware that there are other storm clouds on the horizon. I speak now of the looming provincial election, and the ongoing threats to our health-care system that it brings.

The Conservative Party of Ontario has always been a proponent of the increased privatization of health care. Witness the Harris Government’s move, in 1998, to throw the doors open to private ownership in the long-term care sector. We all know how that worked out during the pandemic – 4,000 deaths and the army enlisted to help with the care of residents. The only people who benefitted, it seems, were the shareholders of the private long-term care companies and people like Mr. Harris himself who, upon retirement from politics, quickly moved into long- term care, becoming Chairman of the Board at Chartwell Retirement Residences.

Since its election in June 2018, the Ford Government has quietly continued the trend toward privatizing home care and further opening the doors to the long-term care sector.

Now we have Health Minister Christine Elliott on Feb. 1 of this year saying, “We’re opening up pediatric surgeries, cancer screenings, making sure that we can let independent health facilities operate private hospitals, all of those things are possible …”.

While admittedly not perfect, our health-care system has always been a source of pride to Canadians. We don’t have to look beyond our neighbour to the south to see how their privately funded system performs – per capita by far the most expensive in the world, yet by any ranking system, rated below Canada’s, and occasionally far below.

Private enterprise has been a great engine for generating prosperity. It has contributed mightily to the comfortable standard of living we enjoy. But the for-profit goals of private enterprise are diametrically opposed to those of the health-care system. So the two must be kept separate.

During the coming election campaign, we must ask our candidates to clarify their positions on health care. But when the Conservative candidate denies any desire to move forward with privatization, we must keep in mind his or her party’s record.

Dennis Makowetsky

Chatham

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