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Poll shows 8 out of 10 Ontarians want hospitals fixed, not privatized

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says that Ontarians want the hospital capacity crisis fixed, not privatized; a position that was backed up this week by new public polling research. “This poll reflects what we public service workers already know,” said Thomas. “After a year of COVID-19, Ontarians want their government to deal with capacity problems at our hospitals by increasing funding and staffing levels.”

Between May 30 and June 2, 2021, Nanos Research conducted a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 520 Ontarians. It found that nearly six in ten Ontarians believe that Ontario hospitals have a major problem when it comes to managing capacity to meet health care needs. The research, commissioned by OPSEU/SEFPO, had a margin of error for this survey of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

“With deadly variants on the rise and the threat of future crises, Ontarians are deeply concerned about their health, and the health of their loved ones – now and in the future,” said Thomas. “They recognize what our union has said for years; that Ontario’s hospitals have a capacity crisis, and it must be fixed urgently.”

“But recognizing you have a problem is just the first step,” added Thomas. “Ontarians are telling the government how to fix it, and it’s not by privatizing.”

“Universal public health care will always be our best bet in a crisis,” said Thomas. “It’s not surprising that eight out of ten Ontarians think having a properly funded public health care system is better for Ontario in preparing for future health threats, than privatized health care services. That might seem obvious to many, but it’s worth repeating to the politicians who have long tried to sell-off our public system, piece by piece.”

While the union argues that Ontarians have always largely supported universal public health care, they believe that the COVID-19 crisis has helped to solidify and embolden people’s belief in its fundamental value.

“The COVID-19 crisis has given the public a glimpse into the horrors of private, for-profit care,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “They’ve seen the rampant neglect and unnecessary loss of life when care is left to for-profit providers, and they recognize that the scale of this crisis could have been reduced under a fully public model. Now, they’re looking for meaningful progress.”

Almeida believes that Ontarians’ fierce support for public health care will help to transform the political and social landscape, especially in the next year leading up to the provincial election.

“We already know that support for public services, and the front-line heroes who provide them, is at an all-time high,” said Almeida. “These poll results prove there’s a public appetite for more funding and staffing for Ontario’s hospitals – not more cuts, and certainly not more privatization.”

“Ontarians have come to expect, and will demand, better preparedness for the next crisis,” said President Thomas. “But most importantly, they think a properly funded universal public health care system is the way to go. My advice to those in power is listen to the people.”

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

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