Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition speaks at the Ciaciaro Club in Windsor during a public health care rally, August 26, 2015. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition speaks at the Ciaciaro Club in Windsor during a public health care rally, August 26, 2015. (Photo by Mike Vlasveld)

Health advocates raise red flag over planned OHIP cuts

Proposed cuts to the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) have raised the ire of the Ontario Health Coalition.

The Ford government has said it met with private insurance corporations to consult about the changes to overseas emergency coverage, however, the health coalition said it did not meet with patients and their advocates, seniors’ organizations, public interest groups or the general public.

The coalition added there was less than a week for public input when a change in a regulation under an Ontario law usually has 60 days of public consultation.

The coalition called the cuts "the latest in terribly undemocratic changes to our public health care."

“[The] newest OHIP cuts, made without any public consultation, follow on the heels of the most undemocratic process in the province’s history used to push through a massive health care restructuring law (Bill 74) last week," the coalition said in a public statement issued Wednesday afternoon. "Bill 74 was rammed through the Legislature at top speed with only two part-days of public hearings in Toronto and only one and a half days notice for the public to apply for standing."

The health advocacy group said only 30 were heard out of the almost 1,600 people and groups that applied.

It also said this is the first time major health restructuring legislation has been passed without a hearing outside of Toronto.

“[Premier] Doug Ford has shown the most contempt for parliamentary democracy that we have ever seen,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “All of his radical health reform plans have been forged in secret and steamrolled through with the least notice, the least amount of public hearings and the fastest timelines ever."

Mehra added seniors who can't afford private insurance or can't get it because of pre-existing medical conditions will be the hardest hit.

“The Ford government’s cuts to health care services are mounting at an alarming rate,” she concluded. “Every day there is a new leak or a new announcement of cuts or plans to privatize health care."

The health coalition is holding a major rally outside the Ontario Legislature at noon on Tuesday to protest the OHIP cuts, mega-mergers and centralization of services, the threat of health care privatization, cuts to hospital budgets, and what it calls the betrayal of election promises to improve public health care.

The deadline for public feedback is also Tuesday.

If the proposed OHIP cuts are approved, the change will take effect on October 1, 2019.

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