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Privatized health care a ‘dirty and dangerous gamble’: OPSEU President Thomas

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is sounding the alarm about the growing number of red flags being raised about private clinics and says the provincial government should give them greater scrutiny.

As striking OPSEU members at an Owen Sound clinic face an employer that is willing to eliminate their jobs to increase profit, media reports say that 4,600 patients were exposed to Hepatitis and HIV, because of unclean equipment at a privately-owned Ottawa clinic.

“It’s clear that privatized health care is a “dirty and dangerous gamble,” Thomas said.  “Are we seriously willing to put the health of our communities in the hands of private business owners?

“Patients and profits don’t mix, and that’s because greed is the most rampant disease eating away at our health care system today,” said Thomas. “It’s the patients that suffer as a result.”

For years, OPSEU has warned about the dangers of private clinics, and their penchant for cutting corners, to cut costs and increase profits on the backs of Ontario patients and workers. According to Thomas, this week’s news is the latest reminder of what we’ve known all along.

“With a new government in office, I hope this serves as a stark wake-up call,” said Thomas. “This model of health care, where clinics are privately-owned and operated is wreaking havoc and it’s costing us all dearly.

“These owners have money, and lots of it,” said Thomas. “They’d just prefer to keep it for themselves at the risk of patient safety and the well-being of workers.”

Thomas is calling for the provincial government to audit these clinics to ensure public money is being devoted to health care and not profits.

“We’ve got to remember that these clinics can only survive by sucking up public dollars,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Ontarians should be horrified to see how these private owners behave, and what they’re allowed to get away with.”

Thomas noted this isn’t the first public health fiasco that’s resulted from privatization.

“Premier Ford’s government has the power to fix our system and put patients first, but they’ve got to listen to the experts in the field. That’s where we can help. We know that universal public health care is the safest and most cost-effective model. It’s the cure our health care system needs.”

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