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September 19, 2003

A provincial health watchdog is slamming the Ernie Eves government for
putting the interests of for-profit health providers ahead of the needs of

The criticism comes in an analysis by the Ontario Health Coalition of
the three major parties' election platforms.

The coalition says the big winners under the Conservatives have been
private nursing homes, diagnostic corporations and companies that want to
run private hospitals for profit.

The Ontario Health Coalition says access to public health services has
been compromised by deep cuts to hospital budgets since the mid-nineties,
when the Conservatives came to power.

But it says the biggest threat facing
health care in Ontario is a trend towards

Kevin Armstrong, an Ottawa member of the coalition, says, "Private,
for-profit ownership and control in Ontario's health care system has been
growing steadily for at least a decade. More recently it has grown by leaps
and bounds."

Not surprisingly, the coalition gives the Conservative platform a
failing grade.

But Armstrong says there are also serious problems with the Liberal

"A key weakness in the Liberal platform is a lack of promise to
replace private hospitals with public hospitals," Armstrong says. "The
Liberals' opposition to privatization is dropped when it comes to home

Of the three main parties, the coalition found the NDP's platform came
out strongest against the privatization of health care in Ontario.

It also praised the New Democrats' promises of greater accountability
and protection of whistle-blowers.

But it says, unlike the other parties, the NDP platform lacks details
on stabilizing hospital funding-something that's emerging as a key
issue in Ottawa and across the province.

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