Ontario health care cuts will reduce quality of life, patient says at Queen’s Park protest
Standing outside Queen’s Park on Tuesday afternoon, a woman who needs up to 25 injections to help manage her chronic pain says that cuts being made to Ontario’s health care system may mean she has to move out of the province.
As a result of a car crash in August 2017, Brittany Rollin lost function in her left leg. She says she has lived with chronic back pain for the past year and a half and receives up to 35 paraspinal nerve block shots a week to help manage it.
“They are the only thing that enable me to get out of bed every day,” Rollin said.
Rollin told CTV News Toronto that she has now been restricted to 16 injections a year due to the health care cuts made by the Progressive Conservative government.
“(This) will greatly reduce my quality of life and may result in me having to move out of the province,” she said.
Rollin was one of thousands of people who marched to Queen’s Park to protest the government’s changes to the health care system. Holding signs that said “patients not profit,” “keep medicare public” and “Doug Ford for the profit,” health care workers and patients expressed concern that the changes being made will lead to the privatization of some services.
The health ministry is expected to see a spending growth of nine per cent over the next five years, but the Ontario Health Coalition—who organized Tuesday’s rally—argues that the funding will not cover the cost of inflation and will result in funding cuts to hospitals.
The province has also said it will be merging Ontario’s 35 public health units into 20, which will save about $200 million per year. In response to concerns that this will lead to job loses, Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised that front-line jobs will be protected.
"You know who's going to lose their jobs, unfortunately, are the people in the LHINs -- the CEOs that are making hundreds of thousands of dollars, the big silos they have there, the big executives, presidents and vice-presidents making outrageous amounts of money," Ford said back in March.
The Leader of the Official Opposition said that the merging of Ontario’s public health units may lead to increased privatization of the health care system, something that the province’s health minister denies.
Speaking with reporters, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that the government is working to make sure people are covered under the public health care system.
“There is already some private delivery in some of those areas. I’m not sure what the health care coalition would want us to do, or the Official Opposition. Should we take doctors out of the picture? A lot of doctors are entrepreneurs, they operate their own practices, so I think it’s not realistic to expect there will be no private delivery of healthcare,” Elliott said.
"We're committed to strengthening our public health care system. If you look at what's happening in the budget that is what we're doing, we're putting money into public health care."
Rollin said that the health care workers she has spoken with say they are “terrified.”
“It means they can’t take care of their patients. It means they don’t have jobs. They can’t take care of their own families. Their patients can’t take care of their families. It’s going to mean the destruction of an entire class of people.”
With the reduction of her pain management injections, Rollin is concerned for her quality of life. She describes the situation as being a matter of life and death, not just for her, but for others as well.
“My mental health suffers greatly without these injections,” she said. “So to go back to being suicidal every day with small children at home, it’s not a life I want to live again.”
“My health care is not the place to make your budget cuts. Hands off.”
With files from the Canadian Press