Privatization of Healthcare in Ontario – Part 2

On August 18, 2022, the new Minister of Health Sylvia Jones announced the Ford government’s “Plan to Stay Open, Health System Stability and Recovery” which includes investments in private clinics surgeries, legislation to permit the transfer of some hospital patients to long-term care and the governments commitment to hire 6,000 more healthcare workers as well as a five-point plan to provide the best possible care to patients and residents. Minister Jones also stated that the “status quo” is no longer acceptable. The Plan to Stay Open includes temporarily covering the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, so they can resume or begin caring for patients sooner.  

The government further indicated that they are “considering options for further increasing surgical capacity by increasing the number of publicly funded surgical procedures performed at “independent health facilities” and by “investing more to increase surgeries in existing private clinics.” 

By transferring some surgical procedures out of public hospitals to private clinics, this means that a public hospital system already experiencing severe shortages of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers runs the risk of escalating staff shortages to even a higher level. Private surgery clinics in Ontario accept a patient’s OHIP card for the surgical procedure but are able to charge patients for other things such as meals, physiotherapy, and more.  Patients often leave a private clinic following a simple surgical procedure owing hundreds and sometime thousands of dollars which they must pay. 

The Shouldice Hospital, one of Ontario’s private hospitals which specializes in hernia operations, require patients stay in hospitals for three (3) nights post-operatively. This surgical procedure is covered by OHIP. In most public hospitals patients having a hernia operation are discharged the day of their operation. 

 Thirty to forty per cent of Ontario’s health care system is already privatized, including services delivered by physicians, laboratories, and many walk-in clinics. 

The Canada Health Act (CHA ) of 1984 sets out criteria and conditions that provincial and territorial health insurance plans have to meet in order to receive the full cash contribution for which they are eligible under the Canada Health Transfer. 

It is important to remember that the role of publicly funded health insurance is to ensure that no Canadian is denied health service because of an inability to pay. For profit health care undermines the Canada Health Act and results in unequal access to quality health care.  

Toronto emergency physician Dr. Lisa Salamon said that the Ontario government should focus on supporting and retaining healthcare workers instead of considering privatization to solve the province’s staffing crisis. 

Expanding the privatization of health care leads to increases in staffing shortages driving skilled health care workers from public hospitals to private clinics. 

A recent poll conducted by Angus Reid a non-profit Institute in September of 2022---found that half of Canadians reject the idea of more private care, and another half are less certain.

One thing is clear, Canadians are concerned about the future of healthcare.  Three in five (61%) say care in their community is poor or terrible. 

When Minster Jones was asked if there would be further privatization of the provincial healthcare system, she responded by saying “all options are on the table.”   

Research has clearly shown that the further privatization of health care will result in health care workers moving from the public health care sector to the private health care sector. A short while ago Health Minister Sylvia Jones claimed that the health care system in Ontario was fine. However, if one looks at the actual situation in health care in Ontario, it is clear that hospitals have been closing emergency departments, and critical care units due to lack of staff, and that wait times for surgical procedures and diagnostic tests are expanding. 

Home Care Privatization:  


In1996, Ontario’s former government under Premier Mike Harris began the privatization of homecare. The Harris government brought in for-profit companies to bid for services against the non-for-profit organizations such as the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), Red Cross, and others. Over a number of years, for-profit organizations took over more and more homecare services. In 2015, Ontario’s Auditor general reported that 62% of public funding for the Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) went to private home care companies.  Home care is also in crisis and the current provincial government is pushing ahead with privatizing the last public parts of homecare 



Media Release - September 21, 2022

COPE Local 527, representing Education Support Staff with Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), is deeply concerned with the recent media coverage regarding an incident which occurred at RA Riddell school.

Our Educational Assistants work with some of the most vulnerable students, and are some of the most dedicated, compassionate and caring staff with HWDSB. Educational Assistants are assigned to a school, and support multiple students, under the direction of the classroom teacher and school administrator.

The supervision and safety of students is the responsibility of the Education Team as a whole, and the care and wellbeing of students is the first priority of all staff concerned.

Our schools are underfunded, and understaffed. Students with special needs are often without the 1:1 support they require, often receiving highly limited Educational Assistant support as a result. This is a safety concern for all students, for staff, and the accountability must fall to the HWDSB and the Ministry of Education to provide and allocate appropriate funding to support the needs of these most vulnerable of students. Unions across this Province have been advocating for adequate funding, and staffing, to ensure the safety of both students and staff. The Ministry and the HWDSB are fully aware of the crisis within our classrooms. This recent incident is one of several recent incidents across the HWDSB, and is not a reflection on the staff, but is a result of the understaffing within our school system.

Recent statements and information released by the media do not necessarily represent facts, and the slanderous statements towards the Educational Assistants involved must not continue unaddressed. The lack of facts and equitable voices in media is misleading and does a huge disservice to the student population of HWDSB and further endangers the educational staff, who are the ones on the frontlines.

We appreciate the seriousness of this incident; we fully support our members and the work they do daily to support our most vulnerable students and stand by them as they continue to provide frontline support despite obstacles and challenges.

Susan Lucek, President COPE Local 527

Linda Kowalski, Vice President, COPE Local 527

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