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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Mehra

The fightback is on!

An earnest appeal: There comes a time when conscience & community compel us to action

There comes a time when one cannot sit on the sidelines and let it happen. When conscience and community compel one to action. I believe we are there.

It is like we have reached a tipping point. If we do nothing, we accept the ever accelerating destruction of the public health care it took generations of Canadians to build.

If we do nothing, we accept that our society will suffer the extremes of wealth and poverty, the final destruction of the middle class and ever-increasing inequity. We accept that more people will suffer and die without needed care, or lose their livelihoods to pay for medical bills, and to add insult to injury, we will pay for more for less, just as they do in the U.S. and other systems of private health care.

I met with the mayor of a town today that is losing its hospital unless we save it... a hospital that was founded in 1910. This community of only around three thousand people has supported its local hospital and built it up for more than 100 years. It has survived through the Spanish flu pandemic, two World Wars, a Great Depression, multiple recessions and various local hospital boards and provincial governments, and now, when we are far more wealthy than we were a century ago, it is under existential threat? It is ludicrous.

All across Ontario... as is the case across the country... our communities spent a hundred years building our public hospitals and our public medicare. And now, without any democratic mandate, the Ford government is dismantling them, running them into the ground, closing them down.Why?

The answer is simple. It is greed.

Doug Ford's government is now transferring more than a billion dollars of our public money each year away from our public non-profit health care over to private for-profit interests like for-profit clinics and hospitals, for-profit staffing agencies, for-profit long-term care chains, and so on.

Literally... indisputably... it is more than a billion in our public money that they shifted over to private profit in health care in the last year. Imagine what that would have done if it went to our local public hospitals, our public health units, our home care, our public health labs, and all the other services they are closing down and privatizing?

If we believe fundamentally in equity, in a society that believes in helping everyone to live to their human potential -- if we believe in a society that protects the ill, the elderly, the dying from medical bills when they are suffering and least able to pay -- then we must raise our voices, "in no uncertain terms", as Tommy Douglas said.

Because otherwise we are losing public medicare, and with its erosion, all the suffering that happened before -- the suffering that led to the creation of public medicare in the first place --  is creeping back.

I promised that mayor we would do everything we can to stop the closure of his community's hospital that they have supported for so many generations. I promised the patients I have spoken to who have been charged thousands of dollars for their eye surgeries.  I promised the families of the elderly who are being forced out of hospital to awful long-term care homes...I promised them that we would do everything we possibly could.

How could I not?

I know that there are hundreds of you out there leading this movement in communities across the province and thousands of you volunteering. I am doing everything humanly possible to build a fightback that is visible, that cannot be ignored, to make good on that promise. There are so many of you doing it beside me. And it's working. We can see from the polls that we are shifting public opinion. It fills my heart. Thank you.

For those of you who are not yet involved, there is truly so much to do, there is a role for everyone. All you need to do is help take a stand now. Will you join us?

Natalie Mehra, executive director, speech on May 23, 2024


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