PHM Canada has signed onto a joint statement created by the Ontario Health Coalition aimed at stopping the unprecedented privatization of our health care services and to set some key election issues to safeguard and improve public health care.
More information about the statement and the Ontario Health Coalition can be found here.
The crisis that COVID-19 has presented, cast an unflinching light on all of us. Heroic efforts have been made by public health, public servants, public hospitals, and hundreds of thousands of health care workers at every level. Selflessness and self-sacrifice have been demonstrated by so many. Our public health care system and our society have shown extraordinary resilience even after decades of planned undercapacity.
Like nothing we have experienced, COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the immeasurable value of public health care in Canada and its foundational principles of equity and compassion. Through the pandemic we have been moved by the countless acts that we have witnessed of care, social solidarity and love by families, communities, local businesses, our health care institutions.
At the same time, COVID-19 has laid bare unconscionable inequities and shortfalls in care for the elderly; patients waiting for diagnosis, treatment and care across our health care system; people with chronic conditions and the immunocompromised; low income and racialized communities; and other vulnerable people who face discrimination. In particular, the suffering of the residents and staff in long-term care has indelibly marked the soul of our province. It is in the memory of those we have lost, and in support of those who have experienced the terrible toll of COVID-19 in our province, that we issue this statement. We hope that it will contribute to righting the injustices they have experienced and will result in fundamental reform of and improvements to health care in our province.
“We the undersigned call on all political parties in Ontario to commit to the following in this provincial election:
Unprecedented for-profit privatization of our health care is underway and being planned, including the for-profit privatization of public hospital services such as surgeries and diagnostics, privatization of an entire new generation of long-term care, privatization of the last remaining public parts of home care, privatization of COVID-19 testing, privatization of vaccinations, privatization of the planning functions of our civil service. We are asking all political parties to commit to immediately stopping the privatization of health care. As a priority, all parties must make concrete urgent plans to safeguard and expand our public and non-profit health care institutions and services.
Decades of austerity budgets and downsizing have reduced our health care services beyond anything supported by reason or evidence. Ontario funds our health care at the lowest rate of any province. We fund our hospitals at the lowest rate in the country and as a result we have the fewest hospital beds left per person of any province. We have the fewest nurses per person. These are political choices: —to prioritize tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations over the people of Ontario leaving patients suffering with long waits, neglect, woefully inadequate care. We are asking all parties to make a commitment to bring Ontario’s funding for health care up to the average of the rest of Canada, as a priority.
More than 4,500 residents in long-term care have died of COVID-19 alone. That does not capture what must surely be thousands of others who died as a result of horrific negligence, yet care levels have not improved. There has been no accountability. Comprehensive surprise inspections have not been reinstated. Not one single LTC home operator has been fined or lost their license, not even the very worst of the for-profit corporations responsible for the deaths of thousands of frail elderly residents in their care. Now, the government is midway through giving more than 18,000 beds paid by public dollars to the same for-profit chains in 30-year licenses. The suffering in long-term care requires an unequivocal commitment to “never again”. We demand that all political parties:
- Commit to a minimum requirement of 4-hours of care per resident per day in each and every long-term care home. It is not acceptable to set that this as an unenforceable average province-wide.
- Reinstate the comprehensive inspections that were cancelled by the current government, and conduct a surprise inspection of every home within one year.
- Hold operators responsible for egregious negligence and non-compliance, including meaningful fine, revocation of licenses, and criminal charges where warranted.
- Recognize, respect and uphold the human rights of residents, including the right to have family caregivers, the right to consent to care, the right to be treated with dignity and quality.
Public Medicare in Canada is founded on the deeply held belief that we all have an equal right to care. That care is based on our medical need, not our financial standing…based on our human dignity. Our governments are supposed to be stewards of that public health care system – protecting it and nourishing it for future generations. We demand that every party commit to upholding the principle of single-tier health care and stop two-tier charges for needed health care services in private COVID testing & other private clinics, and as a result of the erosion of our public health care services.
Ontario is one of the wealthiest provinces, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world at one of the wealthiest times in human history. There can be no excuses; there can be no more redirection of the resources of our society overwhelmingly to those who are already the wealthiest. We cannot go back to the same patterns of growing inequality and inadequate care before the pandemic. Let us together safeguard our principles and rebuild a health care system in the public interest to serve Ontarians for the next generation.”