The results for the community-led referendum on healthcare privatization organized by the Kingston Health Coalition have been released, and Kingston voters have answered with a resounding ‘no’ to healthcare privatization.
Over the weekend, from May 26-27, in-person voting took place at 17 polling stations with the addition of other advanced polls across Kingston managed by 119 volunteers; 10,394 Kingstonians cast their vote, with 98 per cent answering “no” to privatization. The exact results were 10,256 votes “no” to privatization, 138 votes “yes,” and 10 spoiled votes.
The Kingston Healthcare Coalition is an affiliate of the Ontario Healthcare Coalition. For the last six weeks, they have been engaged in a campaign to halt healthcare privatization in Ontario, culminating in a referendum to gather public opinion on the topic. The ballot asked Ontario citizens if they want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics. The referendum was organized locally as a part of a province-wide vote organized by the Ontario Health Coalition. There were 1,000 voting stations across Ontario in addition to an online voting option.
“I think what our goal here is, we’d obviously love the government to change their mind and backtrack. I think it’s unlikely they will backtrack with what they’ve done, but we could easily slow them down. And that’s very important, because if you keep the number of for-profit clinics relatively small, the damage is similarly relatively small, and then people can revisit this question in the next provincial election,” Ross Sutherland, co-chair of the Kingston Health Coalition, said regarding the purpose of the campaign.
Health coalition volunteers stood at the corner of Princess Street and Concession Streets on Tuesday morning to reveal the outcome of the vote to the public and thank the people of Kingston for participating. There was also a short public announcement and comments from Joan Jardin, co-chair of the Kingston Health Coalition.
“The local results show that our community is united in opposition to the government plans to move work out of our public non-profit hospitals into for profit corporate clinics,” said Jardin when announcing the results. “Our community understands that there is space in the public system to improve care for patients. There are many innovative ideas, great staff, and wonderful communities and volunteers that can be mobilized to support non-profit care.
“The real problems start with a lack of government will, systemic underfunding, and a 30-year push to for-profit corporations to deliver healthcare, while causing significant staff reductions in the public system. Further privatization will only make the problems worse,” Jardin added