About 3,500 people cast ballots in the North Bay and District Health Coalition’s citizen-led referendum on public versus private healthcare.
Henri Giroux, local coalition chair, says all but 43 people voted no, they do not want public hospital services to be privatized to a for-profit hospital or clinic.
The referendum was a response to provincial legislation expanding for-profit clinics and hospitals to take on surgeries and diagnostic procedures typically done at public hospitals, something the province claims will make it easier and quicker to access care.
“We just can’t allow this to happen. We have to stop it,” says Giroux. “Even though it’s passed Royal Assent, with a strong voice from the people the Ford Government is going to have to look at do they continue with this, do they slow down, or do they just rush through and make it happen?”
He says the campaign was also about raising awareness.
“We know the more people know about it they understand that ‘whoa, whoa, when did this start? When did this happen? We’ve seen that going door-to-door, talking to people, even Conservative people,” Giroux says.
The Ontario Health Coalition says over 98 per cent (378,726) of the 386,068 votes cast across the province voted against privatization.
Officials announced the results at Queen’s Park Wednesday, alongside a massive pile of ballots from across Ontario
Bill 60, an act to amend and enact various acts with respect to the health system received Royal Assent on May 18.