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REPEAT ? Health Coalition Calls on Ontarians to Pour Into the Streets to Protest Ford Government Inaction on Hospital Crisis and Attempts to Privatize

TORONTO, NIAGARA, OTTAWA, WATERLOO, and WINDSOR, Ontario, Dec. 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Health Coalition has tracked hospital cuts, closures, service closures and overcrowding for more than two decades and are experts in the history and scale of these events. The Coalition has never seen the crisis in our public hospitals reach the extreme state in which we find ourselves currently.

The Ford government is destroying our public hospitals. The Health Coalition is calling on Ontarians to come out en masse:

Friday December 9th at 12 pm
At Faircrest Heights Park on 550 Smyth Road - across from the CHEO & Ottawa Hospital General Campus

Friday December 9th at 12 pm
At Fourth Ave & First Street Louth - across from the St. Catharines General Hospital

Monday December 12th at 12 pm
Outside the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre on 583 University Avenue

Monday December 12th at 12 pm
At Waterloo Public Square on 75 King Street South ? with a march to the Grand River Hospital in Kitchener

Monday December 12th at 12 pm
At Tecumseh and Walker Road

In the face of this crisis, we would expect an Ontario government of any political stripe to do everything possible to address such a humanitarian catastrophe. However, the Ford government has not even repealed Bill 124. For more than a year, it has responded to media and public queries about the unfolding hospital crisis with the claims that it is hiring 6,000 staff, fast tracking international graduates and the status quo is not working. These are PR lines crafted to simply end the discussion and make it look like the government is doing something, but they are meaningless. In context, Ontario requires more than 50,000 long-term care staff and more than 40,000 hospital staff. A recruitment drive in the magnitude of tens of thousands is what is actually needed to stabilize the system. Ontario has floors, even entire hospitals, where beds have been closed down due to underfunding and now understaffing. There are all kinds of capacity that could be opened up, were there only the political will to do so. In large hospitals across Ontario, there are operating rooms that are closed for weeks or months or even permanently due to underfunding and more recently understaffing.

Ontario funds its hospitals at the lowest rate of any province in the country by every measure: both as a percentage of provincial GDP and per person. Doug Ford is completely wrong when he says more money will not solve anything. The fact is that underfunding has forced Ontario hospitals to downsize more than anywhere in Canada and virtually anywhere in the developed world. Going into this crisis, Ontario already had the fewest hospital beds left of any province in the country, and is 3rd from the bottom of the entire OECD. The Ford government doubled funding for the for-profit private clinics in the last quarter of the most recent fiscal year. Instead of taking action to support our public hospitals, he has taken action to privatize their services.

"How dare the Ford government downplay and deny the crisis or play political games with it and blame everyone but themselves," said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "These are peoples' lives, their health ? children's lives and health, the elderly's lives and health. This is not the time for games, denial or lies. Enough. We demand action to address this crisis and we demand the Ford government stop using the crisis as cover to privatize our public hospitals."

For more information: Natalie Mehra, Executive Director (416) 230-6402 (cell); Salah Shadir, Administration & Operations Manager (647) 648-5706 (cell) 

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