By Emily Stonehouse
The Haliburton Highlands Long-Term Care Coalition hosted a privatization referendum press conference on May 4 at the Minden Hospital The intention of the conference was to kickstart the voting process for the upcoming referendum, and answer any questions folks may have.
“May is all about getting the message out,” said Bonnie Roe, one of the organizations of the coalition, noting that online voting started on May 2.
Voting stations have been dispersed at 29 businesses across the county, and all ballots ask one simple question: “Do you want your public hospital services to be privatized to for profit hospitals and clinics?” with options to highlight “yes” or “no” on the ballot.
While online voting has commenced, Roe emphasized the importance of going into local businesses to vote. “If we’re in the streets, it shows we’re out there,” she said.
At the press conference held on May 4, Roe highlighted a series of concerns that have stemmed from recent provincial government initiatives. These included the points that Ontario spends the lowest amount of money on health care out of any province, and that the provincial government continues to deny the request to withdraw Bill-124, which caps nurses wages.
“Privatization will destroy our public, local health care system,” said Roe.
She highlighted that the purpose of the referendum is to give the citizens of Ontario a chance to speak out about their opinions on the matter. With the recent announcement of the closure of the Minden ER, this issue is starting to become prevalent at a local level, she said.
Roe noted that she is pleased with the level of support that has been shown from local businesses, as well as volunteers who have helped with signage and getting the word out. With the official voting taking place on May 26 and 27, she hopes to take all the ballot boxes to Queen’s Park in Toronto, to show Ontario Premier Doug Ford what the community has to say about privatizing healthcare.
“This is no longer a slippery slope,” said Roe, “this is a total collapse of the system.”