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Ontario Health Coalition referendum wraps up, votes being counted

The votes are being counted...

“It's going to be a resounding no to profitization of public hospital services,” said Peter Bergmanis, co-chair of London Health Coalition.

The Ontario Health Coalition started a referendum in April, asking people to choose whether they want public hospital services privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics.

"I think it's important to keep it public so that everyone has equal access to healthcare,” said voter Vanessa Fralic. “I think that's what Canada is all about. And I think it needs to stay that way".

"[Public healthcare] protects people from going bankrupt and getting even more ill,” said voter Dirka Prout.

Two months ago, the Ford government passed Bill 60.

It would allow more private clinics to offer some publicly funded surgeries to help reduce the backlog built up during the pandemic.

Some residents said they’ve experienced private health care south of the border.

“I lived in the US for four years,” sais Lucille Trickett, a voter. “I had the unfortunate experience of going to an ER, and when I got checked in, they immediately asked for my credit card.”

Peter Bergmanis of the London Health Coalition worked on counting the votes on May 28, 2023, for the recent referendum on the potential privatization of health care services. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s Minister of Health, has stated throughout this referendum that Ontarians will always access the healthcare system with their OHIP card, not their credit card.

The province said it will invest $80 billion dollars into the health care system this year.

However, the coalition feels allowing privatization could lead to even less frontline staff.

"They're making another tier of healthcare that is far more attractive for anyone to work than the public one where they cap in their wages,” said Bergmanis. “They have horrible working hours and conditions. So yeah, this is going to make it even tougher for people to get care in the public hospital system."

The final count of the votes being tallied in London, Ont. and area will be released Tuesday.

Bergmanis believes the province will have no choice but to listen to Ontarians.

“We have potentially up to a million people (in the province) who didn't have a say last year,” said Bergmanis. “We've got a lot of voters who are very angry." Top Stories

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