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Nearly 80 per cent of Ontarians believe health care to be in a 'state of crisis,' new poll shows

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Nearly 80 per cent of Ontarians believe that health care across the province is in a state of crisis, according to a new poll conducted by Environics Research.

The poll, published by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), which represents 54 unions, found that 79 per cent feel “health care is currently in a state of crisis,” and that 55 per cent of Ontarians blame the situation on the Doug Ford government. One thousand Ontarians were surveyed virtually between Nov. 29 and Dec.10.

In recent months, Ontario hospitals and front-line workers have been faced with a significant influx of patients suffering from respiratory viruses, paired with long wait times and a lack of beds.

The results of the poll also suggest that most Ontarians – 59 per cent – oppose greater involvement by for-profit health-care providers as an answer to the crisis, with a majority (81 per cent) agreeing “the main objective of private for-profit health-care companies is to make more money for their owners and shareholders” and 79 per cent agreeing that “allowing private for-profit companies to offer health-care services means people with more money will get health care faster than the rest of us.”

“These results confirm the devastating experiences we are hearing from Ontarians: they are concerned about our health-care system, and Ford is to blame,” Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President, said in a release issued Tuesday.

“The tripledemic of COVID-19, flu, and RSV are peaking simultaneously, bringing our already struggling health-care system past its breaking point. We need action from this government now.”

The OFL points to Bill 124, legislation passed in 2019 that capped public sector salary increase at one per cent, as one of the main contributing factors for the crisis.

The bill was recently struck down by Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, but the Ford government has expressed its intention to appeal that decision.

“[Bill 124] has contributed in large part to a shortage of frontline health care professionals,” the OFL said in their release.

“The Ontario Superior Court of Justice got it right when it struck down the unconstitutional Bill 124. Appealing the decision is disrespectful to public sector workers who have — and will continue to — carry us through this unprecedented crisis,” Coates added.

The poll suggests the public supports the court’s original decision, finding that 70 per cent of Ontarians oppose Bill 124, including 53 per cent of people who voted Progressive Conservative in the last election.

Seventy-six per cent of those polled say they believe it unfair to cap wages for nurses and other health professionals “at this amount when inflation is so high.”

PROTEST PLANNED

On Tuesday morning, a planned protest at Queen’s Park will see Ontario health-care workers present the premier with an “all-we-want-for Christmas” card.

Organizers say the contents of the card will urge the Ford to “respect the Bill 124 decision; don’t appeal” as hospitals in Ontario grapple with an influx of patients.

A statement issued by Ontario’s five largest health-care unions says, “While season’s greetings focus on merry and bright, it’s hard for front-line staff at Ontario’s hospitals to feel festive as they continue to struggle with high patient levels, too low staffing, and the continuing exodus of co-workers.”

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