OPSEU in the News
OPSEU in the News

Fighting for the future of public health care

Publication Date

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 12:30pm

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas calls on the people of Owen Sound to stand with the striking family clinic workers in their community who are fighting for "the very future of public health care."

"What will the owners do next to boost their profits?" Thomas asks in the Owen Sound Hub. "Eliminate all the custodians and hang more hand sanitizers? Eliminate all the receptionists so you're forced to use one of their self check-in machines?

"Striking workers, patients, doctors — you all call Owen Sound home. Together, you can look after what you love about living in this beautiful place."

Here's the complete text of the open letter:

For more than two months, a number of front-line health care workers have been on strike.

It started as a fight against meagre wages and deplorable working conditions at Owen Sound's only family health clinic.

But these courageous workers are now fighting for something much bigger. They're fighting for the very future of public health care, and it's time for Owen Sound's citizens and community leaders to join the fight.

If they don't, the city could very well become known as the place where public health care in Canada began to die. The place where we allowed profit-driven clinic owners to send us down a path towards an American-style system where people end up bankrupt or dead when they can't afford the care they need.

Profit before patients — what other conclusion can you draw from the owners' plan to eliminate all nursing positions from the clinic and replace them with something called "patient flow coordinators" who are paid less and have less training and oversight?

What will the owners do next to boost their profits? Eliminate all the custodians and hang more hand sanitizers? Eliminate all the receptionists so you're forced to use one of their self check-in machines?

On Monday, Deputy Mayor Arlene Wright refused to get involved, saying it's not within the city's "purview." She couldn't be more wrong. This is an issue that affects every person, child, and family in Owen Sound, in Ontario, and across the country.

60 years ago, Canadians had to fight for public health care, and fight hard. One of the groups we had to fight hardest against: doctors. They didn't want to give up power over the shape — and prices — of health care, and they resisted public health care tooth and nail.

Fortunately for all, we overcame those profit-hungry doctors, and public health care was established for all Canadians from coast to coast.

But the profit-hungry are still with us. They are right here in Owen Sound, spending a fortune on high-priced Toronto lawyers and private security guards to protect their profits at all costs.

It's not too late to stop them, and continue to take care of each other through public health care.

Striking workers, patients, doctors — you all call Owen Sound home. Together, you can look after what you love about living in this beautiful place.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union