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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Windsor Health Coalition holds emergency summit

by Sylene Argent

Last Wednesday evening, members and supporters of the Windsor chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition hosted its segment of the cross-province virtual emergency summit series, meant to voice their concerns regarding healthcare.

  Tracey Ramsey, Co-Chairperson of the Windsor Health Coalition and former Essex Riding NDP MP, hosted the meeting, noting the meeting was held regarding, “the threat of privatization in our healthcare here in Ontario.”

  The emergency summits were triggered, Ramsey said, when back in February, Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, casually mentioned privatization in healthcare.

  The remark Ramsey was referring to was part of what Elliot said in Ajax on February 1, Elliott said the Province is “…making sure that we can let independent health facilities operate private hospitals, all of those things are possible because we do have the capacity…”

  “We immediately went to work in the health coalitions across the province,” she said. “We are here to discuss privatization of healthcare and what it would mean to all of us.”

  Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition, said she cannot say how many people during the pandemic have described how their hearts and minds have been altered by the grief from the suffering they have seen, particularly in long-term care.

  She spoke of the residents in long-term care who passed away from COVID, noting “That number does not capture the number of residents who also died of neglect; they died of dehydration, they died of starvation, they died of lack of medical care, they died of lack of basic care, or loneliness and depression.”

  She also spoke of the residents and staff who caught COVID-19.

  She said staffing levels in long-term care are worse now than last year. She said one would think long-term care homes would be required to bring in strict staffing standards to hire enough staff and provide enough care to meet the needs of the residents and institute strict accountability for the operators, the majority of whom are for-profit.

  “One would think that they would realize the for-profit, privatization of long-term care has been a disaster and they would end it once and for all, but in fact, they are mid-steam through handing over 18,000 new and rebuilt long-term care beds and new 30-year licenses to those same companies responsible for the most deaths in long-term care in our province,” Mehra said.

  She said Ontario has the fewest hospital beds left of any province in the country, and they have to keep pushing people out because there is nowhere to admit people to. Ontario, she said, has the lowest funding for healthcare and the fewest nurses per patient.

  The privatization of long-term care and other healthcare services is what is at stake in the upcoming Provincial Election, Mehra said.

  In speaking of nursing staff, she also voiced concerns about increased workloads, violence as patients have to wait too long for services, increasing infection rates, and inadequate PPE.

  The emergency summit included several speakers sharing concerns about any possibility of the privatization of health services.

  When responding to MPP Taras Natyshak last week regarding questions he had about increases in salary on the recently released Sunshine List, MPP Paul A. Calandra, Progressive Conservative Government House Leader/Minister of Legislative Affairs, responded the Province has provided a significant amount of resources for frontline healthcare workers. In addition, the Ministry of Long Term Care is trying to obtain an additional 27,000 PSWs, and a salary bump for the frontline workers.

  He added it is not just about adding staff, but ensuring the facilities are top-notch that they are proud to work in and provide the best care.    

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