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Canadian News: December 1

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Issue: 11 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada Topics: labour, social movements, privatization

December 2, 2003

Canadian News: December 1

Ontario Liberals Proceed with Private Hospitals

Ontario health care activists are claiming that two planned "Public Private Partnership" (P3) hospitals in Ontario will be more expensive, not publically controlled, and represent a dangerous step towards privatized health care.

The plan for the Ottawa and Brampton hospitals--which will be financed, owned and operated by private companies--was designed by the Conservative government two months before the Ontario provincial elections. Under the unprecedented agreement, private firms will provide services that are not directly clinical, such as cleaning, laundry and maintenance.

Kevin Armstrong of the Ontario Health Coalition argued that such services may appear to be "ancillary", but are integral to the quality of care provided. Armstrong also called the P3 project "vastly more costly" than publically funded and controlled initiatives, due to the need for profits and higher interest rates that come with private-sector financing. The bottom line, he said, is that "hospital funds are going to be diverted to profits". A recent report on P3 hospitals released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that privately run hospital services were 10% more expensive over the long term.

A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Health said that the plan was going forward to meet an "urgent need", but would not directly respond to questions about anticipated costs or public consultation. The recently elected Liberal government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to halt "creeping privatization" in health care. Conservative MPP John Baird was quoted as saying: "on first glance it looks pretty identical to the deal that Ernie Eves announced here two months ago, so from that standpoint we're thrilled".

Dru Oja Jay

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30,000 Protest Charest's Cuts

30,000 citizens and trade unionists made the long trip to Quebec City to protest cuts to social programs. Recently elected premier Jean Charest recently announced plans to overhaul Quebec labour laws.

Workers at the protest accused Charest of making things worse for workers while making few improvements. Many decried recent cuts to social programs, such as Quebec's sucessful $5-a-day day care, which is now up to $7-a-day. The Liberal government has also suggested cuts to education and health care would "bring Quebec into line" with the rest of North America.

Dru Oja Jay

* * *

Community shows support for Fredericton MP

Fredericton MP Andy Scott participating in a Knit-in For Peace on International Women's Day in Fredericton. photo: Andrea Markey
Despite drizzle in the air, close to 100 people joined together for a candlelight vigil Friday evening in support of Fredericton MP Andy Scott. The vigil took place in front of the Justice building in downtown Fredericton, where, only hours earlier, Terrance Curtis entered his pleas on four charges in relation to an assault a week earlier that left Scott bruised and shaken. Curtis will undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment. Curtis' wife said Curtis is against same-sex marriage.

After a five-minute silence to start the vigil, people took turns expressing their support for Andy Scott, their concerns, and their determination to make a united stand for equality.

Greg Daborn, of Moncton, New Brunswick, is the Atlantic (male) representative for EGALE Canada who traveled to Fredericton for the vigil. "We need more politicians like Andy Scott", he said. A former grade-school classmate of Scott"s agreed. "I was so proud of Andy the day he cast the deciding vote in Parliament", Kim Hill said.

The Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Peter Short, sent his support for Scott and those at the vigil via e-mail to be shared with the crowd. "I hope for the day when all duly elected representatives in our country will be free to exercise their judgment on behalf of the people without violence or intimidation. Our vigilance is not only for Andy and for those with whom we might agree but for the freedom and integrity of our democracy", Short wrote. "Please accept my gratitude for your public witness and be assured of my support for Andy."

While the feelings of solidarity and strength were in the air Friday evening, vigil organizers said there were people missing from the crowd due to fears of intimidation and retaliation. Those at the vigil emphasized a need "to mobilize a lot more people-a mobilization for freedom of existence."

"The circle here tonight represents a new bond we have formed-it will never be broken", Daborn told the crowd.

Andy Scott and his family have reportedly received death threats.

Andrea Markey

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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