Pandemic response a recipe for two-tier health care, says SEIU nurse
By Pat Van Horne, USW member of the CHC Board of Directors
Jackie Walker, an Ontario Registered Practical Nurse, says that, while the COVID-19 pandemic should have been an opportunity for positive change in strengthening Canada’s public health care system, it became instead, “a recipe for privatization and the creation of two-tier health care in Canada.”
Speaking to a webinar on February 22 hosted by the Council of Canadians, a member of the Canadian Health Coalition, Ms. Walker described a history of cutbacks and hospital closures going back decades.
Her mother was a nurse who lost her job during the Ontario Conservative government of Mike Harris. Harris closed hospitals, fired nurses and created a legacy of deficiencies that continued and became more acute over the last two years. Harris himself remains board chair for Canada’s largest for-profit company of seniors’ residences.
Instead of focusing on improving long-term care for residents and workers, Walker said the current Conservative government chose instead to protect private operators from, “the liability of neglect. . .They were provided with bigger contracts”
Jackie Walker is a Registered Practical Nurse and President of the Nursing Division at SEIU Healthcare, a trade union representing more than 60,000 workers in Ontario’s hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes, and community services.
Walker says the crisis is now engulfing hospitals, with surgical backlogs and continued staff shortages. She called on Canadians to advocate for increased staffing levels, protection from workplace violence for women in health care, and “keep our health care system public!”
- Watch Jackie Walker’s full presentation on the panel entitled “Building a stronger democracy: A cross-country webinar”