Ontario passes bill allowing private clinics to perform more surgeries

FILE-Ontario is considering expanding the scope of what certain health professionals such as nurses can do in periods of “high patient volumes.” Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones makes an announcement on healthcare with Premier Doug Ford in the province in Toronto, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

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The Ontario government passed a bill which will allow private clinics to undertake more OHIP-covered surgeries, and some politicians and advocates are speaking out against privatizing more health-care services. 

Your Health Act, or Bill 60, passed by a vote of 68 to 34 at Queen’s Park on Monday.

Earlier this year, the act was introduced by Deputy Premier and Health Minister Sylvia Jones to reduce the province’s overwhelmed surgical backlog.

“We’re making it easier and faster for people to connect to convenient care closer to home, including and especially the surgeries they need to maintain a high quality of life,” Jones said in a news statement. 

The government has said there are more than 200,000 people waiting for surgeries in Ontario. 

Bill 60 will allow for-profit and not-for-profit clinics to conduct cataract surgeries, MRI and CT scans, gynecological surgeries and soon knee and hip replacements under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

However, those against the new health-care bill express concern about oversight, limitation to staffing and the potential for private clinics to upsell services. 

Several Members of Provincial Parliament have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts on the passing of the Your Health Act. 

The leader of the opposition, NDP leader Marit Stiles, shared a photo of her and other “concerned Ontarians” who came to Queen’s Park today to witness the bill being passed. 

“The fight for public health care isn’t over. @OntarioHealthC is hosting a citizen-led referendum to tell the Ford Conservatives our public health care system isn’t for sale,” she continued. 

NDP MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam is also not in favour of Bill 60 and is asking Ontarians to come together to fight against the legislation. 

“Follow @OntarioHealthC and let’s keep fighting. Our public health care system belongs to Ontarians and not Ford’s lobbyists and profiteers!,” their tweet reads. 

“Access to quality medical services is a fundamental human right. It’s unacceptable that politicians like Ford are trying to profit from our healthcare system. Please vote to make yourself heard by voting in the referendum at http://publichospitalvote.ca,” they continue in the following tweet. 

Liberal MPP for Don Valley East Dr. Adil Shamji says Bill 60 will “further undermine & dismantle the healthcare system” and “allow the simplest surgeries to be done for the highest price,” according to a tweet from CityNews reporter Tina Yazdani.

Ontario Nurses’ Association President Erin Ariss says Bill 60 will “further erode patient care.”

“Nurses and health-care professionals across the province witness first-hand how private health care is an absolute failure for our patients, residents and clients. We see this vividly in our long-term care and home care sectors, and now Ford is derailing our public hospital care. Nurses know that outcomes for privately delivered surgeries are worse and the costs are higher, although Premier Ford would like Ontarians to believe otherwise,” Ariss said in a statement on Monday. 

Bill 60 will soon go into effect after it receives Royal Assent.

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