People across Ontario are casting ballots in a “community-run referendum” that is weighing a heavy question on the privatization of health care.
In March, the Ford government passed a bill that would allow more private clinics to offer some publicly funded surgeries to help reduce the surgery backlog that built up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To protest that move, the Ontario Health Coalition is turning to the public to ask their opinion on the issue.
Volunteers are set up all over Kingston, and across the province, speaking with the public about this issue and encouraging people to cast their vote.
“The Ontario Health Coalition has set up this referendum to stop privatization of Ontario’s hospitals by the Ford government. They’ve set up almost 1,000 polling stations across Ontario,” volunteer Beth Wylie told Global News.
In terms of public opinion, those who spoke to Global News seemed divided on the topic.
“I don’t like the idea of privatization at all. I think we need to keep it public. I’m so glad I was able to vote on this today,” says Kingston resident Ron Rabbie.
However, fellow Kingston resident Dylan Short suggested private clinics could help free up doctors in the public system.
“It seems like almost a good thing that they’re privatizing, to the point where they want to bring in the privatized clinics and open up our actual doctors,” he says.
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Some, like Kingston resident Robel Kebede, seem divided.
“From a student perspective, you want your basic things, like your checkups, to be public. Everything that’s expensive outside of that, I don’t even have those problems, it doesn’t make sense for me to think whether they should be private or not,” he says.
While resident Bramwell Davies agrees about the efficacy of privatization to a certain extent, for the purpose of the vote, he says it’s about considering what is best for all.
“A certain amount of private health care can be effective. However, medicine should not be for profit. Even at a certain amount of inconvenience to myself, I’m prepared to vote against private health care,” he says.
The coalition is hoping to get a million votes provincewide, and will present the results to Queen’s Park on Monday.
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