Conservative premiers will bring in American-style health care if we don’t stop them, say labour federation presidents

Ontario Federation of Labour is among the provincial labour federations to join the plea to PM to invest and save Canada’s public health care

Don Mills, Ontario, CANADA


TORONTO, March 15, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The presidents of provincial labour federations are putting pressure on the federal government to step up their contributions to public health care and protect Canada’s public system from Conservative right-wing provincial privatization schemes.

Through letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on behalf of workers across their provinces, federation presidents are calling for improvements to the capacity of our publicly-funded and publicly-delivered health care system. This comes in response to some provincial governments throwing open the door to private, for-profit health services—funnelling public dollars into the pockets of private corporations and their shareholders by outsourcing medical procedures that will further burden the public system with more costly and complicated care requirements.

“Health care workers in Ontario are at their breaking point,” said Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). “As we enter the third year of the pandemic, Doug Ford’s government is still refusing to provide the resources and supports health care workers have been telling him they desperately need. As a result, Ontario is facing a deepening staffing crisis, which is only getting worse as more and more health care workers are driven out of the system—from fatigue, exhaustion, and demoralization.”

Health care workers and their unions have been unanimous in their call for the immediate repeal of Bills 124 and 195, legislation that suppresses wages and limits supports for health care workers and threatens their collective bargaining rights. This legislation has made it nearly impossible to recruit and retain health care workers. Instead, it has made the staffing crisis worse.

We must recognize that the pandemic has highlighted several weaknesses in our care system. The solution to filling these gaps and shortcomings in our public system is sustainable, appropriate funding and better planning, not duplicating services in a private shadow system. Private clinics are in direct conflict with the pride that Canadians feel when we talk about our universal, quality public health care system.

“Under Doug Ford, our health care system is facing its most serious privatization threat in years,” added Coates. “We could see the privatization of 18,000 long term care beds in the years ahead, the expansion of private hospitals, and the privatization of vaccines and COVID testing. Imagine how much worse the pandemic would have been if we had to rely on private, for-profit health care. We can’t—and wont—let that happen in Ontario.”

Health care workers provide so much to people, the emotional and social support needed when facing illness. Labour representatives are also desperately asking for a national workforce plan to address the critical staff shortages that have been exasperated by COVID-19. We must ensure that all money coming from the federal government is invested into our public health system and stop those who want to undermine it and profit from it. Using public funds for private services violates the Canada Health Act, but recent attacks show us we must be vigilant in protecting our public health care.

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact: 

James Clark
Interim Director of Research and Education
Ontario Federation of Labour

jclark@ofl.ca l 416-795-5863

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