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Residents encouraged to take part in health care referendum

By Randy Thoms May 26, 2023 | 6:44 AM

A public referendum on health care takes place today and tomorrow.

It is being coordinated by the Ontario Health Coalition and volunteers across the province.

The question being asked, Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?

Executive Director Natalie Mehra says concerns with the Ford government’s decision to expand the role of private clinics led them to hold the vote.

“People never had the chance to vote on it in the election. This is a core issue, obviously, for communities everywhere across Ontario. It belongs in the democratic arena. (It has) taken 100 years or more in most communities to build our local hospitals, to build them up, to create a public hospital and public health system in this province. And this plan to privatize is really the dismantling of the core services from our local public hospitals,” says Mehra.

“We know the vast majority of people oppose the privatization of our public hospitals of every political stripe in communities all across the province. Can we make that visible? Can we make it impossible to ignore somehow? Can we mount enough public pressure that we could stop a majority government from doing this? Because once it’s gone, I just don’t know how we could ever get it back.”

The vote has already garnered over 160,000 votes since online voting opened at the beginning of the month.

Mehra feels the number could double or triple by the time voting ends on Saturday.

Public participation in the referendum is voluntary.

Unlike some US states, there is no legislation in Ontario that will hold the Ford government to recognize the vote.

Mehra says it is more about raising awareness and grabbing the attention of the sitting government.

“They’re worried about it for sure. So we have their attention. We need to make it big enough that it becomes politically impossible for them to do it. They just can’t ignore it. And from their own caucus, from their own MPPs across the province, they’re hearing, listen, our constituents are not happy about this. They don’t want it to happen.”

Voting is taking place today and tomorrow at polling stations in the following communities;

  • Atikokan Foodland – 110 O’Brien St, Atikokan
  • Rexall (Atikokan) – 123 Marks St, Atikokan
  • Atikokan Post Office – 103 Burns St, Atikokan
  • Canadian Tire, Fort Frances – 1000 Kings Hwy, Fort Frances
  • Safeway, Fort Frances – 417 Scott St, Fort Frances
  • Beaver Mills Market Ltd – 420 Atwood Ave, Rainy River (May 26)
  • O’Connor Township Office – 330 ON-595, Kakabeka Falls
  • Rocky Bay First Nation / Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek – 502 Spirit Bay Rd Municipality Of Greenstone
  • MacGregor Recreation Centre – Municipality of Shuniah – 800 Lakeshore Dr, Municipality Of Shuniah
  • Nipigon Municipal Office – 52 Front St, Nipigon
  • Zechner’s Grocery Store – 155 Railway St, Nipigon
  • Schreiber Municipal Office – 204 Alberta St, Schreiber
  • Terrace Bay Municipal Office – 1 Selkirk Ave, Terrace Bay
  • OPSEU/SEFPO Thunder Bay Regional Office – 326 Memorial Ave, Thunder Bay
  • Fireweed Crafts – 182 South, Algoma St S, Thunder Bay
  • Nomad Bakeshop & Sandwich Bar – 307 Bay St, Thunder Bay
  • Trevisanutto’s Greenhouses & Landscape Design – 684 Woodcrest Rd, Thunder Bay
  • Bay Village Coffee – 221 Bay St, Thunder Bay (May 26 only)
  • North End Variety – 375 Shuniah St, Thunder Bay
  • Castlegreen Community Centre – 213 Castlegreen Dr, Thunder Bay
  • Hodder Tavern – 481 Hodder Ave, Thunder Bay
  • Agostino Deli – 230 Leland Ave S, Thunder Bay
  • Marina’s Hair & Skin Care – 770 James St N, Thunder Bay
  • GOTT cupcakes – 113 May St S, Thunder Bay (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
  • River Street & Gordon Avenue Parkette – River St & Gordon Ave, Thunder Bay
  • Darcy’s NOFRILLS, Thunder Bay – 425 Edward St N #1, Thunder Bay
  • North Country Meat Shop – 319 Euclid Ave (off Arthur St), Thunder Bay

Voting can also be conducted online here from anywhere in Ontario.

The results are to be revealed on Wednesday.



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