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Public healthcare advocates booted from MPP’s office entrance

Peter Bergmanis, co-chair of the London Health Coalition, and supporters of the OHC are seen outside Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Rob Flack's office in St. Thomas, Ont. on May 4, 2023. Peter Bergmanis, co-chair of the London Health Coalition, and supporters of the OHC are seen outside Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Rob Flack's office in St. Thomas, Ont. on May 4, 2023.
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Members of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) were asked to leave an area near the entrance of Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Rob Flack's office on Thursday.

They were a few minutes away from starting a news conference to gauge public opinions on for-profit healthcare.

London Health Coalition Co-Chair Peter Bergmanis said it is the first time his group has been asked to leave the outside of a MPPs office.

Regrouping at the edge of the property, Bergmanis outlined the poll he hopes Ontarians will participate in.

It asks, “Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals?”

Dubbed a vote and referendum by the OHC, the survey will be conducted online and in person at multiple events listed on the same website.

The OHC is an advocacy group with members working to ensure the future of public healthcare.

They are concerned about Bill 60, which would permit more private clinics to open. The clinics would conduct surgeries paid for by OHIP.

Peter Bergmanis, the co-chair of the London Health Coalition (right), is asked to leave the property of Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Rob Flack just prior to a news conference in St. Thomas, Ont. on May 4, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

Bergmanis said any money to support new clinics should be put into public hospitals.

“They have no business privatizing our public healthcare system by funneling public dollars out of our public hospitals, which have so many idle ORs, right now as we speak, into for-profit clinics, which will only benefit private investors,” he said.

London Health Coalition Co-Chair Jeff Hanks shared his opinion that private clinics are a slippery slope towards U.S.-style for-profit healthcare.

“In the [United] States, people go bankrupt when they get sick. They don’t want to go to the hospital cause they don’t want to bankrupt the family,” he explained.

Jeff Hanks, the co-chair of the London Health Coalition, is seen outside Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Rob Flack's office in St. Thomas, Ont. on May 4, 2023. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London_

Bergmanis did not directly answer what would be done with the poll results.

Meanwhile, CTV News London reached out to Deb Ransom, the executive assistant to MPP Flack.

She stated her office staff noted members of the Health Coalition outside before the 11 a.m. news conference, but did not instruct anyone to ask them to leave.

She said other protests at the site have been permitted in the past. 

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