By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Worried about the Ontario government privatizing public hospitals?
Now’s your chance to speak out about it.
The Ontario Health Coalition is hosting a province-wide feedback vote on the issue May 26-27. Votes can be cast at various locations in most communities, with the question on the ballot reading, “Do you want our public hospitals to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?”
Chatham-Kent Health Coalition co-chair Shirley Roebuck said the referendum is an opportunity for ordinary citizens to make their concerns known.
According to Roebuck, the concept of using public spaces for private health care doesn’t jive with what she’s hearing from the public.
“We want to show our elected officials what the public wants,” the long-time health care advocate said. “Everywhere I go I talk to people who are against what Mr. Ford is proposing.”
Roebuck said the Ford government is paving the way for the privatization of some public hospitals spaces, adding the health-care crunch could be alleviated by funding current public hospital spaces, such as vacant operating rooms, that have been closed for some time.
The voting schedule in Chatham-Kent is as follows: Voters can mark their ballots early on May 24, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Chatham Farmers Market, in Wallaceburg also on May 24 at the Knox Presbyterian from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For May 26 and 27, ballots can be cast in Chatham from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ribs and Rims event at Tecumseh Park; Sarah’s Farm Market; Lenover’s Quality Meats and Seafoods; Giant Tiger; Mercato Fresh and Food Basics.
Other stations open on both dates outside Chatham are the Thamesville Legion Branch 367, the Tilbury Royal Canadian Legion Branch 206, Cove’s Landing at the Lighthouse in Tilbury; Mitchell’s Bay Variety & Bait; the Dresden Plate Quilt Shop in Dresden; Tacq’s Garden Market in Tupperville, as well as No Frills and Your Hometown Deli in Wallaceburg.
One-day-only voting stations include: Foodland Ridgetown (May 26) and Pinnell’s Bakery (May 27) and Bothwell Royal Canadian Legion Branch 252 on May 27 beginning at 4 p.m.
On May 26 ballots can be cast at Hidden Hills Golf & Country Club at Dover Centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.