By Emily Stonehouse
All aboard! The bus to stop closures and privatization of healthcare is taking off on Sept. 25 to head to Queen’s Park in Toronto for the day. “The camaraderie will be amazing,” said Bonnie Roe, one of the organizers of the bus tour, “it will be very uplifting.”
Organized by the Haliburton Highlands LTC Coalition under the umbrella of the Ontario Health Coalition, this unique opportunity to set foot in Queen’s Park on the day Premier Doug Ford and MPP’s return to work for the fall is designed to rally awareness about privatizing Ontario healthcare. “It’s continuing the conversation from the successful referendum in May,” said Roe, referencing the 400,000 votes that opposed the privatization of public hospitals. “The goal of this government is to close and privatize local hospitals,” she said.
Locals have seen this first-hand with the sudden closure of the Minden Emergency Department in June of this year. While the Minden location was one of the first to close, it was certainly not the last. The closure sparked contention far beyond the localized community, inciting interest and promises from the NDP opposition to re-open the ED should they ever gain power.
The impact of the Minden ED closure seems to have sparked interest and investment from the local community, and by joining the thousands of others who will be rallying on Sept. 25, Roe believes this is an opportunity to get these voices heard. “We absolutely need to protect our universal healthcare,” she said, “and one of the key components of this universal healthcare is accessibility. This government is creating a crisis in healthcare.”
The bus will be leaving the Minden Community Centre on Sept. 25 at 8 a.m., arrive at Queen’s Park for the Rally at 11, and then return to Minden in the early evening.
Currently, the seats are half sold, but Roe believes many will join as the summer months dwindle towards fall. She is asking all participants to provide a deposit of $20 prior to the trip, to confirm attendance, and hoping to have everything in place by Aug. 25. Folks can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Roe directly at 705-457-6579.
Roe noted that if the bus isn’t for everyone, those interested are welcome in driving down separately, and all attending are encouraged to bring a folding chair, lunch, and drinks for the day.
She said that it is estimated that approximately 10,000 people will be on Queen’s Park that day to rally against the privatization of local healthcare. “It’s going to be an amazing day,” she said. “There will be so many great conversations. That’s what happens when you have people of the same minds joining together.”