Health care protests to include Chatham-Kent residents

Health Care Rally at Queen's Park Oct, 2018. Photo courtesy of Shirley Roebuck.

A protest in downtown Toronto on April 30 will give a voice to Ontarians fighting to ensure their health care stays public.

Part of the outrage is being shared across Chatham-Kent, where Shirley Roebuck — the chairperson of the Chatham-Kent, Sarnia, Wallaceburg and Walpole Island First Nations Health Coalitions — is planning to fill a coach bus and travel to Queen’s Park with some 60 people. These protestors will be the latest to voice their concerns about Bill 74 – an act concerning the provision of health care, continuing Ontario Health and making consequential and related amendments and repeals.

A similar protest happened at Queen’s Park last year and saw thousands of residents demanding an end to health care cuts.

“What I’m asking the people of Chatham-Kent to do is to take a day from their lives and join us,” said Roebuck. ” Let’s tell our government that we want our public health care to remain just that… public.”

The plan is for members of the community to meet at the Bloomfield Road exit of the 401 at approximately 7:45 a.m. on April 30, she said. The bus will be travelling to Queen’s Park for the hour rally and will return home by 5 p.m.

“Please take this opportunity and tell our elected officials what we want for our health care system,” she said. “If they look out of the Queen’s Park office window and see thousands of people it certainly sends a message.”

The trip is free for those who would like to go and lunch will be provided, said Roebuck.

To reserve a seat on the bus call 226-402-2724.


Questions surrounding Bill 74

One of Roebuck’s chief concerns with the new legislation is that it gives the government the power to implement private health care. She compares the new bill t0 the Common Sense Revolution platform during the 1995 provincial election.

“The government will have the power to restructure, close and move services… Most certainly I think the Wallaceburg hospital will be on the chopping block,” she said.

Lori Marshall, the president and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, responded to Roebuck’s claims by saying she thinks the changes to health care are a positive step, specifically in Chatham-Kent.

“What [the new bill] allows for is different organizations coming together and working together to figure out how to serve our shared patients, clients and families,” said Marshall.

The Wallaceburg site is safe and could receive more funding as the health care system changes, she added.

“One of the things we were delighted to see in the new budget that was passed by the government was specific mention of the Wallaceburg site of Chatham-Kent Health Alliance,” she said. “It spoke to the planning and redevelopment grant that we’ve received… to improve emergency services and out-patient care.”

Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton announced in February that the health alliance received $500,000 from the province.

– With files from Matt Weverink