Health Coalition Protests John Tory: He's Got His Facts Wrong

    TORONTO, March 23 /CNW/ - The Ontario Health Coalition challenged
Conservative leader John Tory today on his aggressive campaign in support of a
for-profit surgery clinic.
    When a group of seniors, nurses, teachers, patient groups and hospital
workers gathered early this morning outside the Hilton Hotel where Tory was
speaking to the Economic Club, Tory came outside to debate the public health
care advocates. But an aide urged him back inside when challenged on the
    "John Tory's numbers are demonstrably wrong. He is comparing the price
for partial knee surgeries in the private clinic to full hip-and-knee
procedures in a non-profit public hospital," said Natalie Mehra, coalition
    The real prices as reported by the Health Minister in the legislature
are: $5,800 in the private clinic bid and just over $4,800 in public
non-profit hospitals for the same procedure.
    In Tory's aggressive campaign, he avoids the real issue: "If we provide
money for any one surgeon, they can provide surgeries for patients in need.
That's no argument for privatization. If we fund a non-profit or public
homecare, we can provide a vast range of services for seniors in need, without
anything taken out as profits," Mehra said. "It's strange that we don't see
John Tory on the front page of the Globe and Mail advocating for public
homecare services," she added. "Could it be that this campaign is about
commercial interests, not seniors in need?"
    Further, each private clinic in Canada takes scarce staff away from
public hospitals and leaves the heavy care and complex patients behind with
less staff, the OHC maintains.
    "Tory's health privatization campaign is irresponsible, dangerous, and
opportunistic. He is exploiting seniors in need to advocate for one
profit-seeking clinic to win a contract. I cannot recall seeing a political
leader going to such extreme lengths to advocate for a single profit-seeking
business interest with such disregard of the consequences on our health
system," Mehra said.

    Quick Facts:

    -  The British Medical Journal reported in 2004, that the public health
       system was charged 47% more for hip replacements performed in private
       surgical clinics than for the same procedures provided in public

    -  The for-profit cancer surgery clinic opened by the Conservatives was
       eventually closed down after the provincial auditor found that it cost
       $500 more per procedure than public hospitals.

    -  Studies reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal show that
       meta analyses of for-profit hospitals and clinics show that they not
       only cost more but they lead to higher death rates as the for-profits
       skimp on trained staff and quality.

    -  The Alberta Branch of the Canadian Consumers Association studied wait
       lists and costs for cataract surgery in Alberta and found that wait
       times in Lethbridge with 100% public surgeries were less than half
       those in Calgary with the majority of the for-profit clinics, and
       Lethbridge's costs were $400 less per eye for the same lenses.

    -  The Don Mills Surgical Centre is part of the Alegro Health Group - a
       for-profit investor-owned company - which is traded on the Toronto
       Venture Stock Exchange (TSX-V).

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For further information: (416) 230-6402 (cell)

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