“We don’t think going backwards is the right way,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said to a group of concerned Saulties during a healthcare town hall meeting she held Wednesday evening at the Delta, speaking about the Ford government’s plans to cut healthcare and education.
Saultites voiced their concerns – including, but not limited to hallway healthcare, healthcare privatization, and funding/job cuts to name a few – in a Q&A style with Horwath during the hour-long session.
Horwath told SaultOnline that she was happy about the turnout, which was almost double what they expected.
“People came out because their worried about the state of our healthcare system,” she said. “It’s been left hanging by a thread by the Liberals – and they’re very concerned that the Conservatives are going to take things from bad to worse.”
“We think it’s important that people do have a say,” Horwath explained, saying that the changes made by the Conservative government were “cooked up in backrooms without any consultation.”
“We still think Ontarians deserve to know what’s in store and to have their voices heard.”
Horwath said one of the biggest concerns she’s heard from Northern Ontario is that there’s no access to equitable healthcare, meaning most people have to travel to larger cities such as Sudbury or Toronto, which can be costly due to long wait times for travel grants.
She said her government is the only one stepping up to be a voice for the people.
“The Conservative MPPs should be the ones hearing from their constituents ,” she said. “They should be the ones that are responding to the questions, but they’re not doing that.
“The government should have opened up the process and taken this legislation and gone itself to communities around the province to get the feedback, to get the buy-in, to get the response. But they refused to do it.”
Horwath said the NDP party is taking these concerns to Queen’s Park as they have the town hall meetings, “bringing people’s stories and voices to the legislature.”
“We’re going to keep putting pressure on the government,” she said. “And I encourage people everywhere to tell their Conservative MPPs that you don’t want privatization in our health care system. Tell (them) that every single public dollar should be utilized for public health care – not to pad the pockets of private corporations.”
Horwath’s next stop is in Thunder Bay on Thursday.