Backroom deals show it’s time to hold Ford to account on health care

With rumours swirling over an early provincial election call, it’s time for all citizens of Ontario to think about their priorities for their communities and this province.

As a recent news report detailed, our provincial government has made what appears to be a backroom deal to benefit a large private care provider at the expense of citizens. City of Ottawa land intended to be used for non-profit public health care is being handed over for $1 to a large corporation to expand its empire of profit-generating long-term care and retirement homes.

The corporation will build a for-profit seniors’ retirement community including a 256-bed long-term care facility and an adjoining 15-storey retirement residence on land near The Ottawa Hospital’s Riverside site and a long-term care home with 320 new beds on the current site of its Civic hospital campus.

The corporation – Schlegel Villages – is facing a $110 million class-action lawsuit for gross negligence of long-term care residents in its care during the pandemic. The corporation is also a generous donor to Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative party.

Not only is this a backroom deal between Ford and Schlegel Villages, notorious for its low-quality resident care, but it also involved The Ottawa Hospital CEO Cameron Love.

This deal is just the latest on a long list of health-care changes made under the Ford government. In this case, the CEO of a publicly funded hospital is working hand-in-hand with the government and for-profit corporations to advance privatization, together. We must hold them all accountable.

Nurses in Ontario have seen an alarming growth in health-care privatization by stealth, especially in Ottawa. Public-sector nurses have consistently raised the alarm about a public hospital (the Riverside hospital campus) being used for private, for-profit surgeries to be performed on weekends.

While we would all like to believe that the hospital CEOs who are paid with our taxpayer dollars are focused on how to best provide quality patient care for the public, it seems that Love has turned his efforts to enriching greedy for-profit corporations instead.

“It seems that Love has turned his efforts to enriching greedy for-profit corporations.”

Front-line nurses and health-care professionals continue to see more examples of this same scenario every day. The Premier is once again working behind the scenes with others in positions of power, including his wealthy donors, to undermine the public resources, including the health-care system that Ontarians created, pay for and rely on.

But is this what the public wants? Ford seems intent on keeping the people of Ottawa – and all Ontarians – from becoming aware of the deals he is making that are costing our public system dearly.

Those in positions of power – elected or not – are stealing our public dollars, using them to benefit corporations like Schlegel Villages at the expense of all of us. Corporations like Schlegel have no goal other than to make money. Private, for-profit care providers prioritize money over quality and safety – as shockingly illustrated during the height of the pandemic.

Canadians got it right when we created the Medicare system – with equitable access for all to high-quality care. Research shows that private and public care are not equal. There is a measurable difference between health outcomes for patients in each of these systems. You guessed it – public, non-profit health care outperforms private care by every measure. Private care costs more, delivers less and in many cases, lengthens wait times.

The people of Ottawa and across Ontario deserve high-quality, public health care. They did not vote for nor endorse handing over public assets or health-care tax dollars to subsidize for-profit health care run by private corporations.

As nurses, we know that our patients are not cash cows, except maybe in the eyes of Ford, his donors and the CEO of The Ottawa Hospital. But Ford and his wealthy friends will keep doing whatever we let them get away with.

As citizens, as voters and as neighbours, everyone should be paying close attention and demanding accountability and transparency from those in power. We must demand answers, accept nothing less than transparency and hold those in power to account.

It’s your government. It’s your health care. It’s your future.

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  • Carolyn Pawson says:

    Thank you for this. Your insider knowledge and perspective are critical to keeping us, the public, informed. We need to keep a list of these”deals” and make sure it is shared often. Doug’s deals and how they undermine our health system should be top of mind at election time.

  • Marlaine Irschick says:

    Ford should be ashamed of himself for what he has done to Ontario . Healthcare in Ontario was certainly better under NDP and Liberals. Ford is destroying Ontario. People wake up and get ford out of power. We don’t need his American style of politics. Making his buddies rich. Ford does not care about the people of Ontario. Ford your fired. And a big liar.


Erin Ariss


Erin Ariss is a registered nurse and Provincial President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA).

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