McGuinty confronted by angry cancer patient
Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty was confronted by an angry cancer patient on Wednesday afternoon while touring an Ottawa hospital.
Mike Brady, upset with the province for not paying for certain cancer drugs, refused to shake McGuinty's outstretched hand.
Brady, who suffers from stage four colon cancer and likely has less than a year to live, told the leader, "You're not helping me."
McGuinty replied, "That's not true," and continued his tour.
Brady, a 63-year-old Ottawa resident, said the Ontario government doesn't fund the kind of cancer drugs available in other provinces and in the United States.
"His gang are holding up things that are available," the patient told reporters. "I'm running out of time ... I don't have the money to spend $60,000 on drugs in the United States that I need. I'm not very happy with the kind of service that we're getting.''
McGuinty said the encounter reminded him of how personal health care is to patients and their families. He said he visited other cancer patients on his tour behind closed doors.
McGuinty noted Ontario continues to depend on the best advice of medical experts to decide which drugs to pay for.
The confrontation came as a cancer coalition urged the province to fund 24 new intravenous cancer drugs approved by Health Canada.
The group, launched by the Ontario Citizens Cancer Coalition and Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus(CARP), said Ontario ranks last among the provinces when it comes to funding newer cancer drugs and PET scan imaging.
Earlier in the day, McGuinty launched his sharpest attack on his chief rival, saying a vote for Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory would decimate public health care.
McGuinty warned that if Tory is elected premier, residents can expect cost-cutting measures, which will gut the health care system just as former Conservative premier Mike Harris did in the late 1990s.
McGuinty said Tory's plan to cut the $2.6 billion health tax and find $1.5 billion in efficiencies will cut the heart out of public services.
"The Conservatives would take us backwards by taking $3 billion out of medicare to put resources into private, for-profit clinics," McGuinty said inside London's John Labatt Centre.
"You see this arena behind me? Mike Harris emptied that arena of nurses. We filled it once and now we're going to fill it again. That's the difference.''
That cost-cutting proposal is twice what Harris cut from social services and the environment, McGuinty said, comparing the politics of Tory to Harris.
"Yes, they are different people but at the end of the day, what happened in the past will happen again in the future," he said.
McGuinty pledged to spend $550 million a year to hire 9,000 nurses over four years -- enough to fill virtually every seat in the stadium.
The Conservatives are promising to cut the health-care tax and increase spending on health care by more than $8 billion.
McGuinty has facts wrong: Tory
Tory, who visited St. Joseph's Healthcare Institute in Hamilton, said McGuinty is wrong on his facts.
"Mr. McGuinty has fallen so far short of his own goal in terms of hiring nurses it's laughable he would even pretend he has," Tory said.
"I met some nurses who said they're on a short-term contract that expires next month and they're included in his hiring number. I can tell you those nurses don't think they're any part of real hiring program because they're going to lose their job."
Tory later announced that a Conservative government would invest $540 million over four years to create electronic health records for at least half of Ontario's population by 2011.
Tory said electronic health records -- which are already in use in Australia, New Zealand and many European countries -- are the "missing link'' to providing Ontario patients with faster and safer health care.
"Every Ontarian will have a personal, private, lifetime, accurate record that will move with them regardless of which doctor, specialist or technician they go to for care,'' he said. "It means risks of medication errors and misplaced test results can be minimized.''
Hampton highlights gender inequality
Campaigning in Toronto, NDP Leader Howard Hampton highlighted gender inequality in Ontario.
Speaking to about 800 people at the Woman Vote 2007 conference, he shocked some members of the crowd when he said the average Ontario woman's salary is only $26,800.
Hampton reiterated his pledge to raise the minimum wage immediately to $10 an hour.
He said 1.2 million Ontarians earn less than $10 an hour. He added 237,000 residents work for the minimum wage of $8, and 61 per cent of those workers are women.
"Many of these women are raising children while living below the poverty line, even though they're working full-time hours or two or three jobs just to make ends meet," the NDP leader said.
Hampton also says eliminating the health tax for low-income workers would make a big difference for single mothers.
He added he's proud the New Democrats have 42 female candidates in the Oct. 10 election, which is more than the other parties.
With a report from CTV's Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press