Sudbury protesters rally against Ontario Bill 175
SUDBURY -- A dozen protesters braved the bleak weather on Wednesday to send a message to Premier Doug Ford: they want Bill 175 scrapped.
Armed with signs, they gathered outside the Rainbow Centre over the noon hour calling for action.
"We are demanding that the Ford government withdraw Bill 175 and that we sit down all together and get much more public input and design a program, a system for home care, for community home care that can be applicable to all communities or especially to regional communities," said Dot Klein, of the Ontario Health Coalition.
Protesters were also parading their cars around Sudbury MPP Jamie West's office at the same time. West is against Bill 175, and his colleague, Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, has proposed 20 amendments to the bill. All have been voted down by the Progressive Conservatives.
"I think what we're seeing today is the reaction that people across Ontario are going to have about this bill, that people have seen the side-effects of de-funding and privatization for health care and that's what's hidden in this bill -- that's what it's all about," said West.
West left his office during the noon hour to meet with protesters and to let them know he stands with their cause.
Fear of for-profit health care
One of those protesting was Roma Smith, whose husband required home care for the last three months of his life.
"There will be no more LHINs and the government instead is going to set up a different array of organizations to run home care and community care," Smith said. "What these organizations are, we don't know yet. Some may be for profit because lots of home care is for profit."
Smith said there are not enough personal support workers when dealing with private companies, and she fears this will make an already bad problem worse.
"A lot of the deaths in long-term care homes, most of them occurred in for-profit homes and now he also wants to privatize community care and turn that into a profit," said protester Terry Martyn. "Health care is not a commodity that can be bought or sold."
Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan is the co-chair of the seniors advisory panel. He said the city is facing a real dilemma when it comes to long-term care and available space.
He said a lot of people will have to be treated at home and much of this is going to come down to neighbour looking after neighbour.
City may not be able to wait
Kirwan said the city may not be able to wait for help with the province. There are 1,425 beds seven long term care homes in the city, but the beds are all occupied and the wait list is typically years long.
"We have to be able to bring the services to them rather than … have them wait years to get a place in a long-term care home, so that's where the real priorities are right now," said Kirwan.
CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Health to inquire about Bill 175 and the concerns of the protesters.
In a statement from the Minister's spokesperson, they write:
"Home and community care will continue to be managed and overseen by non-profit health service providers, such as hospitals or primary care teams, as outlined in Bill 175. These non-profit health service providers will be able to contract with non-profit and for-profit home care organizations, as LHINs do now."
"Community services will continue to be delivered by non-profit organizations. This legislation in no way enables the privatization of home care."
West, however, doesn't buy it. He said he's asked the government several times about how it feels about privatization and each time he's been told people will pay with OHIP.
"They don't say it's going to be publicly funded and the problem with privatization is that part of that money has to go to the shareholders, you can't compete with non-profit and public, when you have to pay shareholders as well," said the Sudbury MPP.
Similar protests were also held in other cities including Toronto, London and Thunder Bay.