Ontario Health Coalition plans May 30 march to protect free, fair health care

May 16, 2024 | Headlines, News, Provincial News

The Canadian health care system has been igniting unrest among citizens, from short-staffed hospitals to excessively long patient wait times.

A Leger survey, conducted from Jan. 19 to Jan. 21, 2024, reported that 70 per cent of Canadians worry about not receiving good quality medical care if they need it.

The survey had a margin of error no greater than 2.5 per cent.

The online survey of a random sample of Canadian adults found that “long waits (66 per cent), stressed (42 per cent), and failing (40 per cent) are the top three words that come to mind for Canadians when thinking about the current healthcare system.”

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) is planning a march and protest for May 30, 2024, to voice their opinions regarding the current state of health care in Ontario.

The protest in Toronto begins at Nathan Phillips Square before heading to Queen’s Park. Other demonstrations will be held simultaneously throughout the province.

Alanna Kong, research and campaign coordinator at OHC, said these protests and marches aid in bringing attention to inequalities and injustice within the Ontario health-care system.

“We are really seeing our collective efforts including protests and that rallies have really created a pressure on this current government,” she told Humber News. “We can kind of tell from some of their responses from the Ministry of Health from things like our private clinics report, that they are feeling the pressure, which is kind of our goal.”

The first large-scale OHC protest in Toronto was held on Sept. 25, 2023, at Queen’s Park. The march attracted between 8,000 to 10,000 people, Kong said.

The coalition has held various minor and major protests in Ontario.

The OHC said the group works to protect and improve the health care system in Ontario.

The coalition currently represents “more than 500 member organizations and a network of local health coalitions and individual members,” including seniors groups, doctors, health professionals and unions.

Kong said she and her team are looking forward to the march and protest in Toronto this month, and expect the same turnout numbers at around 10,000 people.

“We also seek to strengthen the principles of the Canada Health Act and really improve public healthcare for all people regardless of background,” Kong said.

Kong said the coalition has been challenged by

For-profit corporations, public relations workers and lobbyists will often challenge the coalition and its stance on social media, she said.

“The most right-wing corporate media chain will refuse to cover us or will go after us (e.g., when the minister lied about privatizing), printing stories with complete falsehoods about us,” Kong said in a follow-up email to Humber News.

Kong also said the coalition is focusing on fighting back at the privatization of health care. The coalition said the privatization of clinics is contrary to the Ontario Health Act.

“That’s definitely our main goal right now, the current threat that public health care is facing,” Kong said.

Under the Your Health Act, passed in Ontario just about a year ago, for-profit and not-for-profit clinics will have authorization to perform minor and eventually major surgeries.

Kong said the coalition does not stand with or represent any political party but represents fair and just health care for all Ontario citizens.

“No matter what party is in power or whatever they’re doing, the main thing we’re looking for is whether they are protecting and improving public health care,” she said.