Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

May 16, 2008 08:00 ET

May 17 - International Day Against Homophobia

Statement by Wayne Samuelson, President, Ontario Federation of Labour

Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(Marketwire - May 16, 2008) - May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia. It is a day of action, awareness and affirmation of the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) people and their families to live their lives - Out and Proud. On this Day the Ontario Federation of Labour is proud to stand in solidarity solidly in opposition to homophobia and transphobia.

The OFL endorses the 2008 campaign that highlights health care as a major issue for the LGBT community. We support the call for health services which are free of discrimination. We also firmly believe that supporting a not-for-profit public health care and pharmacare system is the best way to ensure that discrimination does not exist in the system. Here's why:

Public health care and accountability are key. LGBT people historically have faced discrimination in access and provision of health care services. Activists from LGBT communities and unionized health care workers have challenged health care institutions to change their policies and practices and provide care that is free from prejudice and discrimination.

Public control of health care services and accountability through democratic processes are the best options for the LGBT community to continue to demand fair and equal treatment. They are also the best options for members of the disability rights, women's, Aboriginal and people of colour communities.

The LGBT community has a keen interest in medical research and policy development. We need publicly accountable institutions which can be pressured into doing the necessary and critical research on LGBT health care concerns. Private institutions are not likely to invest in research that does not meet their religious/personal/political/financial/pocket book criteria. Profit-driven institutions, like drug companies, may be much more interested in the research of expensive drug therapies for people with HIV/AIDS than into research to find a cure. There is no profit in a cure.

Many members of the LGBT community are health care workers. The public health care system is currently highly unionized and has provided relatively good, secure, well-paid jobs. Unions helped win protection for workers against discrimination and benefits for the partners of LGBT workers.

Privatization of the health care system is a serious threat to the LGBT community. Already, privatization has caused the de-listing of needed health care services. Our health care system no longer covers sex reassignment surgery, hormone treatments, artificial insemination and changes to coverage for drugs and other supplementary therapies have been devastating for the LGBT community.

Private, extended health care plans are not the answer. Private health care insurance means meeting the private insurer's requirements therefore 'pre-existing conditions' such as being HIV positive will disqualify you from coverage. Private insurance costs a lot of extra money. The LGBT community, like everyone else, doesn't have the money to pay for private coverage and care.

For-profit, private institutions, privately controlled and operated are much less receptive to community needs and community voices. How will they be held accountable if they refuse to care for members of the LGBT community on the grounds of moral or religious beliefs? Access to health care is a basic human right and no one should have to go shopping for health care services to find places where they feel safe.

Approximately 80% of health care providers are women. They bear the heaviest burden of privatization when budgets are cut, wages are reduced and their work is de-skilled. When our public health care institutions are downsized the extra burden of care falls mostly on women.

Private, for-profit institutions result in lower wages and benefits, reduced services and the application of private sector management techniques which effectively de-skill workers and contradict the ethics of care which guide public health care workers. Profit, not care is the watchword of privatization.

In 2008 LGBT people are campaigning to preserve and expand public health care in Canada. The LGBT community wants everyone to write your elected representatives and Premiers and insist that health care dollars be spent on public, not-for-profit health care. Explain why public access to non-profit health care meets the needs of the LGBT community.

It is time to make the voices and needs of LGBT communities heard. Health care is a human right. Let us make sure the LGBT community gets respectful, accessible care through a strong public health care system.

cope343 /For further information: Wayne Samuelson, President, Ontario Federation of Labour
416.571.7408 (cellular)

Contact Information

  • Dana Boettger, OFL Communications Director
    Primary Phone: 416-441-2731 ext. 665
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7665
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138