City council in North Bay is wading into the public versus private healthcare debate.
They’re calling on the province to rescind Bill 60, which expands for-profit clinics and hospitals to take on surgeries and diagnostic procedures typically done at public hospitals, something the province claims will make it easier and quicker to access care.
“I believe that access to public non-private hospitals and services is fundamental for the health of all citizens,” says Deputy Mayor Maggie Horsfield, who brought forward the motion. “The further privatization of services could further divide the abilities to access preventative and responsive services between those who can afford services and those who cannot.”
She also says that current healthcare staff-related shortages across Canada add to the challenges around access.
The council motion passed by a 6-3 vote.
Councillor Gary Gardiner voted against the motion, saying he felt like they were sitting at Queen’s Park on the issue.
“This is clearly a healthcare issue that is dealt with at the provincial level and quite frankly we have no role to play,” he says.
Councillor Tanya Vrebosch says while it is a provincial issue, the municipality has a role to play in providing money for doctor recruitment.
“While we’ve seen some specialists, we’re struggling trying to get those general practitioners,” she says. “Now with Bill 60, it’s going to be harder for us to compete.”
Mayor Chirico pointed out the provincial legislation has already received Royal Assent and says council needs to stick to municipal issues.
“I don’t think this is the proper locale for this discussion,” he says. “I do see how there are some impacts as Councillor Vrebosch pointed out but at the same time I really want council chambers to deal with what we deal with, and we’ll keep that in mind in the future.”
Councillor Mark King was the third no vote, while councillors Sara Inch, Jamie Lowery, Justine Mallah and Lana Mitchell supported the motion.