Graphic of a piggy bank having it's money removed through it's eyes with syringes that have the Ontario Trillium symbol printed on the plungers. The piggy bank is crying green tears and doesn't look happy.


On Apr. 16, 2024 the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) released their report, Illegal, Unlawful and Unethical: Case Studies of Patients Charged for Medical Care in Ontario’s Private Clinics. This report outlined more than one hundred patients across the province being overcharged in Ontario’s private clinics.   

It included 231 responses, of which 120 reported incidents of extra billing, user fees and/or manipulative upselling.  The evidence found in this report shows how for-profit cataract surgery clinics are frequent violators of the Canada Health Act and the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act

The OHC aims to protect and improve the public health system in Ontario. They work to strengthen the principles of the Canada Health Act. The OHC is comprised of a Board of Directors and committees of the Board as approved in the Coalition’s annual Action Plan.   

Jim Stewart, chair of the Waterloo Region OHC emphasized the importance of maintaining a publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare system, and presents a comprehensive critique of the Ontario government’s plan to privatize the system  

In the OHC’s monthly news release they highlighted the potential negative consequences of privatization and emphasized the need to protect the integrity of the public healthcare system. For Stewart, one of the most impactful ways to affect change in the public healthcare system is to spread awareness and share information about what is happening to the healthcare system.   

“Basically, what the government of Ontario is doing is creating a second tier or a second duplicate of operational rooms, operating rooms, in private clinics across the province. And that doesn’t make any fiscal sense,” Stewart said.  

The OHC noted that Premier Doug Ford announced his government’s plan to privatize surgeries and diagnostics.  The Ford administration promised strong “guardrails” to protect patients from extra billing and user fees.    

Ford announced the plan as a proposed solution to the surgical backlogs that increased during COVID-19.  

Most of the  common fees are related to eye surgeries. Patients reported they faced charges ranging from $50 and $8,000 when they went in for cataract surgeries.   

OurCare, a pan-Canadian project, gathered input from the public on how to rethink the future of primary care.  The survey was online from Sept. 20 to Oct. 25, 2022. Over 9000 Canadians completed the full survey and shared their perspectives and experiences. Of the respondents, 55.4 per cent of the participants considered it very important for every person living in Canada to have a relationship with a family doctor, nurse practitioner or a team of health care professionals they see regularly. However, the privatization of healthcare would effectively limit the amount of people with access.   

The OHC report detailed the experience of Patient J, who underwent cataract surgery at a clinic in Toronto and the surgeon recommended a special lens that would cost $400 more than the basic lens covered by OHIP.   

“Patient J was told by a technician from the hospital that they would have two options for the measurement test: manual measurements offered through OHIP or an accurate machine measurement, which would cost them $100 per eye,” the report stated.   

Stewart wants to stress that the changes Ford is suggesting are not an add-on to the current healthcare system, but a complete restructuring.  The changes may lead to an American-style healthcare system, where patients will be made to pay a premium to have the same services delivered in private clinics that can be delivered in public hospitals.