Ontario Health Coalition

Ontario Health Coalition

April 25, 2016 14:52 ET

Volunteer-Led Referendum Launched Across Ontario to Save Local Hospitals: Ontarians to Vote Saturday May 28

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 25, 2016) - People all across Ontario will be asked to vote on whether they want local hospital cuts to continue or be stopped, the Ontario Health Coalition announced in a press conference this morning in Toronto. Local health coalitions held media launch events in tandem across Ontario. More communities are joining in every day and there will be a second round of launches next Monday.

The coalition plans an ambitious and novel protest. We plan to hold a grassroots, volunteer-led referendum on Saturday May 28. This is a mass vote. Volunteers are asking busy corner stores, drug stores, local grocery stores and other businesses to host voting stations outside their stores on Saturday May 28. Ontarians will be asked to vote, YES or NO to the following statement: "Ontario's government must stop the cuts to our community hospitals and restore services, funding and staff to meet our communities' needs for care."

As Ontario heads into the nineth consecutive year of real-dollar budget cuts to community hospitals' global budgets, the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the hospital cuts that are biting deeper and deeper every year. The Ontario Health Coalition has been working with hundreds of community groups to hold town hall meetings, launch petitions, bring delegations to the Ontario Legislature and hold rallies. While we have, collectively, saved a number of local services, in general the cuts continue.

"We are calling a volunteer-led referendum to try to make the public's overwhelming opposition to the cuts to their local community hospitals so visible, so impossible to ignore, that the Ontario government is forced, finally, to listen," said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "We know that the overwhelming majority of Ontarians want the cuts to be stopped and services restored as a top priority issue, but people need a way to make their voices heard. That's what we are trying to do."

The challenge in this referendum is not getting people to vote in support, but rather getting huge numbers of votes. To do so, hundreds of volunteers are organizing workplace votes in the weeks leading up to Saturday May 28, dropping leaflets off around their neighbourhoods and communities, and asking for volulnteers to help staff voting stations on the big vote day.

Ontario is currently in the longest stretch in Ontario's history. These cuts mean that hospitals across the province cannot keep up even with basic inflation. Hospitals have been cut to the point of dangerous overcrowding and understaffing. Emergency departments are backlogged, wards are full, patients are discharged when they are too frail and re-admission rates have soared. We are calling in the provincial government to stop the devastating hospital cuts and improve hospital funding to at least the average of the other provinces, and also to ensure our health care dollars go to direct, front-line patient care and vital support services.

Cross-Province Launches

Monday April 25

Toronto 10 a.m., northwest corner of Gerrard St. W. & Elizabeth St. with hospital emergency sign visible in background. Visual: giant prop ballots, ballot box and scissors. Contact: Natalie Mehra 416-230-6402 or Kim Johnston 647-381-7025.

Niagara 10:30 a.m., sidewalk near King St. entrance of Welland Hospital. Visual: crowd with "Save Welland Hospital" signs Contact: Henry Miron 905-735-4999.

Ottawa 10:30 a.m., Centretown Community Health Centre (Room 209), 420 Cooper St. Visual: balloons, giant prop ballot, ballot boxes and banners. Contact: Al Dupuis 613-808-7710.

Stratford 10:30 a.m., corner of John St. & Cambria St., near Stratford General Hospital. Visual: giant prop ballot, ballot box and red balloons. Contact: Treena Hollingworth 647-537-4357.

Kawartha Lakes 11 a.m., sidewalk near Ross Memorial Hospital (east side of Angeline St.), Lindsay. Visual: giant prop ballot, banners and red balloons. Contact: Marlene Beaman-McQuay 705-324-6028.

Peterborough 11 a.m., sidewalk outside of emergency department on Hospital Dr., Peterborough Regional Health Centre. Contact: Charlene Avon 705-761-4408 or Roy Brady 705-745-2446.

Windsor 11:30 a.m., Windsor Campaign Office, 3719 Walker Rd. Visual: giant prop ballot box, ballot and balloons. Contact: Ken Lewenza Jr. 519-819-0830.

Oxford County 12 p.m., Thames St. S. Gazebo, Ingersoll. Visual: balloons and brightly coloured umbrellas. Contact: Bryan Smith 226-228-8309 or Connie Searles healthcutshurtus@gmail.com.

Sault Ste. Marie 12 p.m., sidewalk at corner of Great Northern Rd. & Lukenda Dr. near entrance to Sault Area Hospital. Visual: Massive visual unveiling of campaign with red balloons and umbrellas. Contact: Margo Dale 705-254-2885.

Guelph 1 p.m., sidewalk near emergency sign at Guelph General Hospital (Delhi entrance). Visual: giant prop ballot and ballot box. Contact Magee McGuire 519-767-0084 (home), 519-830-5340 (cell).

Hamilton 1 p.m., sidewalk at corner of Barton St. E. & Victoria Ave. N., near Hamilton General Hospital. Visual: banners and umbrellas. Contact: Janina Lebon 905-545-5514 (home), 647-773-1914 (cell).

North Bay 1 p.m., North Bay Campaign Office, 573 Fraser St. Visual: giant prop scissors, ballot and ballot boxes. Contact Mike Bisaillon 705-492-8818.

London 4:15 p.m., sidewalk near emergency department entrance, east side of Victoria Hospital, 800 Commissioners Rd. E. Visual: red balloons, banners and more! Contact: Jeff Hanks 226-448-3067, Peter Bergmanis 519-860-4403.

Chatham-Kent Contact: Shirley Roebuck 519-677-4460 or Rick McLean 519-401-2334.

Leamington Contact: Kim DeYong 519-817-6328.

Sarnia Contact: Shirley Roebuck 519-677-4460.

Wallaceburg Contact: Shirley Roebuck 519-677-4460.

Scarborough Contact: Kingsley Kwok, 416-835-3377.

For photos of the event, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ontariohealth/posts/1698463327084828

Contact Information

  • Natalie Mehra
    Executive director
    Ontario Health Coalition
    416-441-2502 (office)
    416-230-6402 (cell)

    Kim Johnston
    647-381-7025 (cell)