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Ford government ‘rotting from the inside’: OPSEU President Thomas

Toronto – A leaked health care privatization bill gives a glimpse into a Progressive Conservative Party that is rotting from the inside, according to OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who says the leak exposes internal party conflict and proves that Doug Ford’s government is out to lunch on health care.

“Health care is the third rail of Canadian politics – touch it and you’ll get burned,” said Thomas. “Ford’s flirtation with privatized health care shows just how little he values the people’s priorities. This leak smells like mutiny on the horizon.

“It’s time for Ford to smarten up and listen up,” said Thomas. “It’s time to listen to the people of Ontario and to the frontline health care workers and their unions who are the real health system experts.”

OPSEU represents more than 50,000 health care workers in Ontario’s hospitals, ambulance services, long-term care homes, community health care, mental health care and blood services and diagnostics. 

A draft bill leaked this week revealed the Ford government’s plan to dismantle Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and replace them with a health care “super agency” with the power to force mergers and closures of any health care institutions in Ontario.

“Restructuring always costs taxpayers more for less,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Despite a lot of buzzwords like ‘integration’ and ‘efficiency,’ it’s really about finding ‘innovative’ ways to make money off health care. This is privatization by stealth and it’s a plan that’s sure to backfire – no wonder Ford threw his rarely-seen Health Minister Christine Elliott in front of this one to take the heat.   

“We mustn’t forget former premier Mike Harris’s failed attempt at health care restructuring,” said Almeida. “His government cut $800 million from Ontario’s health care budget, but spent $880 million on the restructuring to do it, all in the name of ‘finding efficiencies’. Ford should know, the people won’t be fooled by sleazy slogans.” 

“The LHINs aren’t perfect, but creating a new super agency won’t fix those problems,” said Thomas. “It’ll be more of the same, but with a huge price tag. If Ford cared about improving health care, he’d redirect money from the tiers of administration and management to the frontlines of care. He’d focus on investing in public services like health and education that make life more affordable for Ontarians and he’d meet with the frontline experts and their union immediately.

“Government by chaos is no prescription for Ontario’s health.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931