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Referendum on privatized healthcare open for voting today

Cambridge residents can now vote in Ontario Health Coalition's province-wide, citizen-led referendum on healthcare
Natalie Mehra, director of Ontario Health Coalition, at Queen's Park for the launch of the cross-province referendum campaign last month.

The Ontario Health Coalition's province-wide, citizen-led referendum on healthcare is now open for voting.

The referendum surrounds Bill 60, Your Health Act, and its plans to “substantially” expand for-profit clinics and hospitals by taking surgeries and diagnostic services like MRIs and CT scans out of public hospitals.

Ontarians are asked to vote on whether or not they want local public hospitals’ services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics. 

"Currently, with our hospitals desperately short-staffed, this will take vital nurses, health professionals, doctors, and the funding for them away from our public hospitals and transfer them to for-profit clinics and hospitals, leaving our community hospitals with fewer staff, fewer services and fewer resources," reads the referendum website.

"Without question, this is the privatization of the core services of our local public hospitals."  

But CEO of Cambridge Memorial Hospital Patrick Gaskin told CambridgeToday earlier this year that American style healthcare isn’t in the cards for Ontarians, as long as the province remains cautious with how this is rolled out. 

CMH has been outsourcing cataract and colonoscopy procedures to private doctors since 2021, and Gaskin predicts there will be other general surgeries outsourced in the near future.

This will allow the doctors and staff at the hospital to deal with more urgent surgeries and procedures, he said.

“At this stage, this mainly focuses on day surgery and some ambulatory procedures which are important in terms of providing patients a good and improved quality of life,” Gaskin said. “No one has to run to grab their credit cards just yet.” 

The Ontario Health Care Coalition, however, claims for-profit clinics are getting patients to pay for unneeded tests and extras.

It says the Ford government has underfunded its health care budget by $1.25 billion and believes if the Ontario government matched healthcare funding in other provinces, it could resolve the crisis that has nurses and hospital staff "leaving by the thousands due to overwork, burnout and frustration."

For those who are unable to vote in the referendum from home, several locations around the city are open for interested individuals to cast an online ballot.

In Cambridge, those locations include Rookery Books on Main Street in Galt, the Islamic Centre on Dunbar Road, Smart Choice Electronic Recycling Inc. on Bishop Street, C&C gamebridge on King Street East in Preston, Growing Hope FARM in Preston, Dream City Pizza in Preston Heights, and the Fashion History Museum on Queen Street in Hespeler.

To find those locations on a map, click HERE.

Online voting is also available for all Ontario residents at

Voting closes on Saturday, May 27 at midnight.

As of Thursday, more than 160,000 votes have been received online and in advance polls.

Local health coalitions across the province will be counting ballots on Saturday evening May 27 or Sunday May 28 and announcing results locally on Tuesday, May 30.

Province-wide results will be announced outside Queen’s Park on Wednesday, May 31 at 10 a.m. when the Ontario Healthcare Coalition dumps a "massive pile of ballots from the people’s referendum" in front of the legislature.