Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Voting stations are set to open across the province for a citizen-led referendum on the government’s plans to move some surgeries to private, for-profit clinics.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) will launch the mass referendum today to give everyone in the province the chance to vote on what it calls an “unprecedented privatization of Ontario’s core public health care services.”

On January 16, the Ford government announced plans to allow public health services such as surgeries and MRI and CT scans to be conducted at for-profit facilities. According to the province, the three-step plan will help alleviate the surgical backlog in Ontario that was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, according to the OHC, the government’s legislation will be detrimental to public hospitals and the services they provide.

The OHC said voting will close at the end of the day on Saturday with local results announced on May 30. The province-wide results will be announced outside Queen’s Park on May 31 at 10 a.m.

“A massive pile of ballots from the people’s referendum will be brought in from across Ontario and piled in front of the Legislature to be delivered to the government,” the Ontario Health Coalition said in a news release.

More than 20 voting stations will be set up throughout Chatham-Kent on Friday and Saturday. A map listing all voting stations can be found by clicking here.

Ahead of poll locations opening on Friday, 160,000 votes have already been received by the OHC through online advance polls.