Ontario Health Coalition --- Niagara Health Coalition

June 22, 2005 09:48 ET

ST. CATHARINES COMMUNITY-WIDE PLEBISCITE MAKING WAVES:

GEARING UP TO KEEP HOSPITAL 100% PUBLIC Attention: Assignment Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Media Editor, News Editor ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - June 22, 2005) - A plebiscite (community-wide vote) called by the Niagara Health Coalition has reached almost 100,000 people and votes are streaming in, in advance polls. The campaign - called "Build It Right" was formed in response to the provincial government's announcement that they would seek private financing for new hospitals in Ontario. The coalition is concerned that the government is covertly planning to build up to 23 privatized P3 (public-private partnership) hospitals.

The coalition is supporting a new redevelopment for the local hospital, and wants to make sure that the hospital remains publicly financed and non-profit.

Campaign Highlights To Date:

• On June 20, St. Catharines' City Council passed a resolution advocating for public finance and public
non-profit delivery at the new local hospital.
• 95,000 leaflets have been distributed to community members in St. Catharines.
• Over 2,000 voters have voted in advance polls as of June 20 and volunteers are out every day
canvassing their neighbourhoods.
• Approximately 130 volunteers are planning to staff over 60 voting stations across the cities of Thorold,
St. Catharines and Niagara-On-the-Lake.
• Over 350 lawn signs have been requested by area residents in the last week. Hundreds more will go up
before the end of the week.

The vote will be held on Saturday, June 25 in locations across St. Catharines. Community members are asked to answer the question: "I support a new hospital for St. Catharines that is 100% publicly funded, owned, administered, and operated. Keep our hospital public and non-profit. Yes or No."

"The phones are ringing off the hook with residents asking for lawn signs and wondering how to vote," said Sue Hotte, Niagara Health Coalition co chair. "People really do not want to see P3 hospitals. We are overwhelmed by the support for keeping the hospital public."

"St. Catharines is the first plebiscite, but the community here is not alone," noted Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition. "We will be working with local residents to hold plebiscites in communities across the province where there is a threat of privatization. Public Medicare is not for sale."

Background:

The provincial government released a 5 Year Infrastructure Plan that includes private financing of public infrastructure including up to 23 new hospitals. The coalition is concerned that the provincial government is attempting to obscure plans to privatize hospitals by renaming the P3 (public private partnership) privatization deals "Innovative Alternative Financing Mechanisms"! The coalition has reason to be skeptical. It had received promises that the Liberal government would not proceed with hospital privatization during the election campaign. Those promises were broken. The government tried a second time to pretend it was not proceeding with P3s when it announced the Brampton and Ottawa hospital P3 deals. This claim has since been rejected by all informed observers and the P3 deals in those communities include 25 - 66 year privatization of public lands, facility management and services from patient records to patient transport, disinfection, food and support work. These hospitals now contain the deepest and longest-term privatization of any hospital since the inception of public medicare.

Of the new hospitals announced in early June, to date, no government Member of Provincial Parliament has confirmed categorically that the new hospitals will be publicly financed, have public facility management, and maintain public support services. The goal of the campaign is to build support to stop the province's attempts to bring in for-profit corporate finance along with the long-term service, lands and management privatization that are conditions demanded by private corporations in privately financed hospitals around the globe. The coalition points to evidence that privatized P3 hospitals are more expensive, suck money out of clinical budgets, cutting doctors, nurses and beds, invite into the centre of the health system corporations with an interest in creating a two tier health system to increase their profits, and bifurcate the management of the hospital handing half over to for-profit corporations inviting legal wrangling, bankruptcies, service charges and declining patient care. /For further information: Natalie Mehra
Ontario Health Coalition
416.230.6402/ IN: HEALTH, LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Sue Hotte, Niagara Health Coalition
    Primary Phone: 905-932-1646