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LivingHealthMay 26 & 27 referendum on accessible healthcare: Have your say

May 26 & 27 referendum on accessible healthcare: Have your say

Do you care about accessible healthcare? This is your opportunity to make your opinion heard!

On January 16th, the Ontario government announced plans to take thousands of surgeries and diagnostic tests out of local public hospitals and move them to for-profit hospitals and clinics. In response, the Ontario Health Coalition is mounting a province-wide community-run referendum to be held on Friday May 26th and Saturday May 27th.  The question on the ballot will be: “Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics? “Yes or No”

Online voting is happening now and will continue until May 27 at www.publichospitalvote.caTens of thousands of votes are already pouring in.  Additional information on the referendum can be found at www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca.

Across the province, volunteers have been setting up over a thousand voting stations outside of grocery stores and coffee shops, at Canadian Legions and community centres. Our Almonte Committee has been working hard to inform the Community about the referendum and has been distributing information in the Millstone, on social media, in rural mailboxes, at community events and posting signs in various spots around town.

We have now confirmed a voting location at the Rexall Mall, 430 Ottawa Street, Almonte.  The poll will be open from 10 am – 4 pm on May 26 and 27, fully staffed thanks to the many who volunteered in response to our original request.

We also plan to distribute leaflets and background information in pop-up locations around Almonte and are seeking volunteers for a shift (or perhaps two) at those locations.  Please let us know as soon as possible if you are willing to help us there.  Once we have enough volunteers we’ll build a shift schedule with times and places to meet.  We continue to need your help to spread the word far and wide.  Please use your personal networks and talk to family and friends.

A vibrant community spirit has, throughout the generations, supported and sustained the Almonte General Hospital. Countless volunteer hours and fundraising efforts have been devoted to keeping our hospital services close to home. What effect will a move to privatization have on local services? Will we have more emergency room closures due to staff shortages?  Or health professional burnout?

You might wonder why our public health care system is under pressure.  Part of the reason is that Ontario’s hospital resources have been decreased more radically than anywhere else in Canada.  Public hospital funding per capita in Ontario is the lowest out of all the provinces and territories.  Ontario also has the fewest hospital beds per capita in Canada.  More recently, provincial funding has been constrained below population needs and wages of nurses and health professionals capped, limiting resources and worsening the healthcare worker shortage.  These issues won’t be improved by nurses and doctors moving to the private sector. With fewer staff, might those who can’t afford private care have to wait even longer for diagnostic tests and surgery?

The upcoming referendum presents an opportunity for the citizens of Ontario to weigh in on the issue of privatization: will it solve the healthcare crisis in our hospitals? Speak up.  Let the government know how you feel and show up to vote – virtually or in person on May 26th and 27th.

Want to volunteer to assist The Almonte Committee on the referendum about public health care?  Please contact:

Judith Marsh: Judith.marsh@outlook.com

Barbara Cotterill: barcott19@gmail.com

Virginia Howard: modmyst@gmail.com

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