Ontario Government to cut Critical Healthcare Program
March 28, 2023
ARCH Disability Law Centre is deeply concerned with the Ontario Government’s announcement that it will no longer fund healthcare for uninsured people without an Ontario Health Card as of March 31st 2023.
Without notice, the Government is dismantling a program that as of three years ago, expanded access to healthcare to uninsured persons including hospital, and some community based, care. These sudden cuts will have devastating consequences on the most marginalized, racialized, and vulnerable members of our communities, including persons with disabilities.
There are many reasons why people living in Ontario may not have a valid Ontario Health Card including: being unable to obtain or renew their card due to disability-related reasons and disability-related barriers; being unhoused and losing needed identification; leaving an abusive or unsafe home; temporary work or study in Ontario; and being without authorized immigration status.
As ARCH stated in its recent advocacy for expanded Ontario Health Card renewal options for persons with disabilities, persons with disabilities are in a position of having to safeguard continued access to healthcare by putting their own health and safety at risk. Our communities have expressed serious concern regarding access to healthcare that include fears of discriminatory triaging of critical care and denial of vital accommodations and supports. These and other ongoing concerns are compounded now by this further cut.
There is a real danger that those who need medical attention but cannot obtain or renew their Ontario Health Card will delay seeking care and put themselves at greater risk for complications to their health, out of fear that they will incur medical debt. People with severe health conditions and disabilities should not have to wait until it is too late to seek care because they are afraid that they will be rejected, saddled with mounting debt, or stuck in costly red tape to replace their identification.
We urge the provincial government to save lives by ensuring continued access to healthcare for uninsured people living in Ontario.
We also encourage members of the public to send a message to the Premier and to their MPP through Healthcare for All Coalition’s website, and to read about the need to maintain this program and the devastating impact that cuts to this program will have. Healthcare for All Coalition will be organizing a demonstration on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at 12pm at Queen’s Park, Toronto, calling on the Ontario government to stop the cuts to healthcare and continue this vital program.