Healthcare advocates are scrambling after the announcement by the Ford government of impending public hearings into their legislation on healthcare. According to the Ontario Health Coalition, the government has opted for minimal public hearings (two part days) with almost no notice, and in Toronto only. As well, the deadline for submissions to make presentations at the public hearings is today, March 28 at noon.

An email from the Coalition says that previous legislation was subject to actual public consultation. “It was not perfect -- in fact far from it --  but in every previous case of health care restructuring, there has been more public input, more democratic protections, more process, more access to information. This Bill was written in secret with no public consultation. Now it is being steamrolled through with minimal notice and minimal public hearings. The legislation itself wipes out all pre-existing public input, appeals and public interest protections in health care restructuring from existing and previous laws.”

The email continues, “There are no public interest protections in the legislation. There is no public notice at all for most of the sections that give new restructuring powers. There is minimal public notice in one section. There is no right to appeal anywhere in the legislation. There is no public access to documents anywhere in the legislation. The new Super Agency is not subject even to the conflict of interest rules of the Ontario Public Service. There are no principles to guide restructuring. There is no requirement that any one, not the Minister, not the Super Agency, no one, actually measure and plan to meet population need for health care, protect any local health services at all, ensure that patients have access to care,  worry about the workforce that will be subject to massive upheaval.”

The hearings are to take place Monday, April 1 and Tuesday, April 2 from 9 to 10am and 2 to 6pm at Queen's Park. Witnesses to receive up to eight (8) minutes for presentation followed by twelve (12) minutes of questions by Committee members from recognized parties (six minutes each for NDP, PCs).

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