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"No, no, no": health minister pushes back against privatization

The minister’s comments come a day after she wouldn’t rule out the idea of privatization to help ease Ontario’s ongoing healthcare crisis.
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Ontario’s health minister is emphasizing today that people in the province will always be able to access health care without paying out of pocket, a day after she came under fire for refusing to rule out further privatization in the system.

“No, no, no,” Sylvia Jones replied when asked if Ontarians could be forced to pay for care they currently receive under OHIP. “What I referenced yesterday was innovation. We should not be afraid of innovation.”

Jones went on to say that access to healthcare through OHIP “is never going to change.” However, she did not rule out more of a role for private corporations to deliver public services, which already happens in Ontario’s system.

The minister’s comments come a day after she wouldn’t rule out the idea of privatization to help ease Ontario’s ongoing healthcare crisis. The current health staff shortages have led to emergency departments across the province closing for hours or days at a time.

A spokesperson for Cambridge Memorial Hospital said Thursday eight surgeries have been cancelled due to high patient volumes in the hospital’s emergency department, which have been compounded by staff shortages and staff vacancies.

The hospital also warned earlier this week that emergency wait times were “much higher than normal” due to high patient volumes and ongoing staff shortages.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is also tabling a motion at Queen’s Park to try to hike wages for workers across the province.

“It calls for an end to Premier Doug Ford’s wage cap policy, Bill 124. It calls for raises for all healthcare workers. It calls for better working conditions for healthcare workers,” said interim NDP leader Peter Tabuns.

It’s a motion that’s already gaining support among some union leaders.

“If you privatize some of healthcare, the public system will deeply suffer and people will suffer in Ontario,” said Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

NDP Health Critic France Gélinas also moved a motion asking for an emergency debate on healthcare in the legislature. That motion was quickly rejected.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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