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'There's no one side to privatization' experts say

For Wellington County hospitals, addressing staff shortages and wait times is more important than public versus private debate
Signs can be spotted around the city saying "no" to private healthcare.

After the provincial government hinted at further healthcare privatization to address staffing shortages and long wait times in hospitals, residents and health care providers have been anxiously waiting to see what happens next. 

But for the North Wellington Health Care Alliance (NWHCA), the main concern is not private versus public: it’s addressing the issues at hand in the best way possible, whatever that may be.

NWHCA president and CEO Angela Stanley said she doesn’t have an overall opinion of privatization, because “there is mixed messaging about what privatization and utilization of privatization is.” 

“I think it’s making sure we’re using all of the resources in our system, as it is now, to really support (the) waitlist, and that does include independent health facilities.”

But she said the main limiting factor right now is health human resources: having both the staff and the beds to effectively and efficiently treat patients. 

While she said their vacancies change almost daily, she last counted around five full-time and eight part-time nurse vacancies at Groves Memorial Hospital, and two or three full-time vacancies at their North Wellington sites. 

“It might not sound like a lot compared to our urban counterparts, but it’s a lot for us, to have that number of vacancies available.” 

Yet, health care policy expert Candace Johnson said there is no evidence increased privatization will help. 

“The delivery of public health care needs to be distributed according to the principles of justice, distributed to people who are least able to pay, the most vulnerable, the sickest. The private sector isn’t set up to do a good job delivering on that,” she said. 

Former chair of the Guelph Wellington chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, Magee McGuire, agreed.
“When you're privatizing, you are dealing with doctors who are business-minded, away from the philosophy of the Canada Health Act. It's what has always guided good, patient-focused healthcare in Canada, and they're losing that.”
“There's no one side effect of privatization. There's only divisiveness, and the strongest are going to win,” McGuire said.