Ontario health care unions call on feds to consider risks of privatization

Five of Ontario’s largest health care unions say the premier’s plan for “American-style, private for-profit hospitals” throughout the province puts their members and those they care for at risk and want the federal government to consider that when negotiating Canada Health Transfers.

On Tuesday, the leaders of CUPE, SEIU Healthcare, OPSEU/SEFPO, ONA, and Unifor, sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland urging them to think about that as their cabinet meets this week in Hamilton.

The unions, which represent 295,000 workers, say Doug Ford has already “attacked” their members in a “number of destructive ways” in recent years by infringing on their right to freely negotiate a collective agreement and by underfunding the healthcare system through the reallocation of federal transfers that were intended to support public services during the pandemic.

“Funding private clinics will further damage the ability of Ontario’s public hospitals to provide high-quality care and make it even more challenging to retain front-line staff. It’s a dangerous plan that will undermine safe staffing levels and universal access to healthcare,” read the letter, which also pointed out Ford’s recent admittance in a media interview that “more options will be available to those able to pay the cost.”

“The very definition of two-tier health care is when the wealthy have special access to services and products that others cannot afford. Denying people access is about the pursuit of profits, as exemplified by the often cited but poorly understood private hospital profiteer, Shouldice, known for refusing service to people with complex or pre-existing conditions.”

Unifor, ONA, OPSEU/SEFPO, SEIU Healthcare, and CUPE also said their concerns stem from “evidence in the broken heath care system, where outcomes for people are objectively worse when delivered by for-profit nursing home chains.”

“We should not double-down on a system that diverts taxpayer funds to corporations that prioritize dividend payouts despite the suffering of seniors in care,” they said.

Last week, Trudeau said he’d be watching closely as the Ontario PCs plan to expand the private delivery of public health care.

As Ontario moves to allow private clinics to perform more surgeries, the Prime Minister said he wants the principles of Canada’s universal public system to be respected.

“It is one of the primary responsibilities of the federal government in matters of health-care delivery, to ensure that the Canada Health Act is always respected,” Trudeau told reporters at an event in Saskatchewan, referencing the law that outlines Canada’s publicly funded health -care insurance system and spells out national health policy objectives.

“That’s what we’re going to continue to watch across the country as people are responding in different ways to delivering better services to Canadians in health care.”

CP24.com has reached out to Freelanda nd Ford for comment, but we have yet to hear back.

With files from CTV National News.

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