MPP Rick Byers Voted to Privatize Health Care in Ontario
On April 1st at our Chesley Hospital Community Support rally in the Chesley Community Centre, Rick Byers spoke from the stage, saying that he realized he was sent to Queen’s Park to represent our interests and vowing to take our hospital issues forward to the Legislature. The audience listened politely but many looked sceptical. What has he done for us since that time?
First there is the question of our petition. Many people in the catchment area for the Chesley Hospital have already signed it and some are still signing. On April 12, 2023, MPP Byers was sent a letter asking if he, as our elected MPP, would sign and present our petition in the Ontario Legislature. He has refused to respond to the letter and, by extension, to present our petition. But never fear, other MPP’s have volunteered to present it and are currently negotiating a date for us to do so. Many of us have expressed interest in going down to Queen’s Park to demand attention to our hospital issues.
And now, Byers has revealed his true colours and his true allegiance. Yesterday in the Ontario Legislature the Ontario PCs voted to gut the public health care system in Ontario and to privatize those services we depend upon.
A review of Hansard from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 43rd Parliament, 1st Session, No 73 for Monday, May 8, 2003, reveals that he first supported the vote to close third reading of this bill and then voted in support of Bill 60.
How does this affect us? What is the impact of privatization on small rural hospitals like Chesley and Minden and others? Small rural hospitals in Ontario are under attack. An ER is a vital part of any hospital and without a fully functioning ER, the service no longer exists as a hospital. Closure of small hospitals and ER’s means there is less competition for the private interests now running the health care system. It also leaves buildings and diagnostic equipment available for sale to those interests. Private health care services can set their own prices for procedures and services; many double bill OHIP for these private procedures and drive costs through upselling and hidden charges. There is a lot of big money at stake and little motivation to deal with issues like ours.
So, thanks to Rick Byers for finally revealing his true allegiance to the Conservative Party and private interests, as opposed to his local constituents. It wasn’t a surprise, frankly, but it does speak to the issue of his election in this riding. He was placed here by Ford and the local Conservative party did not have a chance to vote on his candidacy. The next election seems a long way off, but it will come, and I know who I am not voting for. Do you?