Seniors Issues and Concerns

OSSCO provides the following information and links on issues interest to Seniors and OSSCO members. This includes information from third parties. The content of this information is provided solely as a convenience and not as an endorsement. OSSCO is not responsible for the content of linked third party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third party Web sites. Further information regarding any of these issues may be obtained by following the supplied links.



For Immediate Release - May 16, 2018   

Ontario Health Coalition Calls for Concrete Commitments to Redress the Crisis in Access to Care

Provincial Election Discussion Should be About Rebuilding Public Hospitals & Long-Term Care

Not “Efficiencies” or “Lean” or Code Words for Cuts: Health Coalition Calls for Concrete Commitments to Redress the Crisis in Access to Care

Toronto – After touring Ontario in recent weeks, Health Coalition spokeswoman Natalie Mehra returned to Toronto this morning at a press conference outside the Emergency Department at Mount Sinai Hospital to talk about the crisis in access to health care. Noting that the Coalition’s mandate is to protect public health care in the public interest, she said that the group has chosen its words carefully and has not used the word “crisis” since the 1990s until recently when the overcrowding situation in Ontario’s hospitals truly reached crisis proportions.

The coalition released its platform for the election in Toronto this morning. Called “Time to Rebuild” the coalition has highlighted two key “asks” for all political parties leading into June 7th’s provincial election to fix the crisis: 


  • An immediate and significant infusion of funding is needed for Ontario’s hospitals which are funded at the lowest rate of any province in Canada by every measure and which have the fewest funded beds remaining after 40-years of downsizing. The coalition is asking for 5.3% per year, based on the best evidence available (2.2% inflation, 1% population growth, 1% aging, 1.1% increased utilization) and a commitment to get that money directly to care, not executive salaries and administrative functions that do not support increasing care levels.


  • A commitment to open 30,000 new long-term care spaces as quickly as possible to address the wait list of 34,000 (according to the most recent government of Ontario figures from December) people, mostly elderly, often with dementia and complex care needs that are too heavy for their families to provide. Within long-term care homes, care levels need to improve to meet the increasing complexity. People are suffering for months or even years waiting for long-term care placement.  


The coalition will measure each of the parties’ commitments throughout the election campaign against these priority “asks”. In addition, there are recommendations for home care reform; support for community health centres that promote equity in access to needed care and primary care reform; a plan to build new hospitals publicly, reform Infrastructure Ontario and save billions that are currently wasted on P3 privatization; streamlining will rid Ontarians of top-heavy administration and get money more directly to care; democratization of our public hospitals; a roll-back and re-integration of privatized outpatient services and labs, and other public interest reforms.

Health care is polling at the top of the public agenda this election and the Health Coalition is working to ensure that the political parties make commitments that will effect real policy change. “We are here among world-class hospitals in Ontario that simply cannot provide even a safe level of care because of decades of downsizing,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director. “The discussion has to change. This is not a time to be talking about “lean” or “efficiencies” or “transformation” or any other code words for cuts and privatization. All the political parties to make real commitments to fix the crisis that we are seeing in our hospitals and in access to seniors’ care in nursing homes. That means a multi-year commitment to significantly improved funding and restoration of services. Its time now to rebuild.”


Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8


Ontario Retirement Communities Association Media Release:


Senior Services Benefit would support seniors to stay in the community longer

May 2, 2018 (Oakville) The Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) wants a commitment from all parties this election to help seniors with a Senior Services Benefit.

 “By 2036 there will be over 5 million seniors in this country.  Every one of those seniors deserves a plan for their future that supports their interests,” said ORCA CEO Laurie Johnston.  “This election we want all parties to commit to a Senior Services Benefit that would act as a monthly allowance to help seniors pay for their housing and care needs.  We know seniors thrive when they are living in congregate settings – a Senior Services Benefit would alleviate financial pressure, empower choice and allow them to stay in the community as long as possible – now is the time!”

 A 2018 poll conducted by DART Insight and Communications for ORCA clearly shows that 79 per cent of Canadians worry about having enough money to pay for their care when they need it; while 71 per cent worry about being a burden on their family if they can’t look after themselves.  Almost all Canadians, 96 per cent, agreed that social interaction is important for seniors’ health and wellbeing.  Ninety-four per cent of Canadians agreed that social isolation is associated with higher health risks and 91 per cent of seniors agreed that they do not want to be socially isolated in their later years.

 ORCA is asking parties to commit to a Senior Services Benefit that would include the following principles:

 The Senior Services Benefit must include funding that flows to the senior – flexible enough for each to choose the services needed (e.g. rent, housing, assistance/support, meals, care, etc.).

  • The Senior Services Benefit must establish funding that is sustainable and predictable.
  • The Senior Services Benefit must ensure funding that is awarded based on established, transparent criteria and a fair assessment.
  • The Senior Services Benefit must be accountable.

 “We know that 96 per cent of families worry less if their loved one has supports to keep them safe and well – it’s never been a better time to do this,” said Johnston, “A Senior Services Benefit is an essential support to both the senior and their family – and would be a tremendous step in the right direction for Ontarians.”

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For more information or a copy of ORCA’s Pre-Budget Submission, contact: 

Kari Cuss, Director, Communications & Public Affairs, ORCA 905.403.0500 ext. 229 or

Kelly McGuire, Communications & Public Affairs Specialist, ORCA 905.403.0500 ext. 226 or

The Ontario Retirement Communities Association is a voluntary not-for-profit organization that represents the operators of retirement homes across Ontario.  With over 600 members, ORCA represents 93 per cent of the retirement home suites in the province.  Our sector employs upward of 28,000 full-time and part time employees who support over 57,000 seniors.


Ontario Health Coalition Media Release

“A public dental plan, like public health care, is fundamentally about equity.  It’s about providing all people with the opportunity to live healthy, dignified lives, and fulfil their human potential.”   Natalie Mehra, Executive Director OHC


Ontario Health Coalition Media Release

Ford's Figures "Way Off": OHC Concerned About Statements on Hospitals in Northern Ontario

April 13, 2018 (Toronto) – On this week’s swing through Northwestern Ontario PC Party Leader Doug Ford cited wildly incorrect numbers for hospital bed costs and raised the spectre of another round of hospital bed cuts. Mr. Ford was quoted in Thunder Bay’s media yesterday falsely stating that comparable hospital beds cost $3,500 while long-term care beds cost a fraction of that, and suggesting that he will find “efficiencies” by cutting hospital beds and moving patients out to cheaper sites.

“We are deeply concerned because Doug Ford’s numbers are completely wrong and this could lead to devastating cuts in our hospitals where patients are already suffering from dangerous levels of overcrowding and bed cuts that have gone too far,” warned Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “Not only are the numbers wrong but Mr. Ford is comparing apples and oranges. You cannot cut higher care hospital beds and offload patients to places where they won’t get enough care. We hear from families devastated by this all the time. Their loved ones end up suffering and ultimately are back in hospital in worse condition.”

Hospital beds are funded at rates that reflect the intensity of care provided in them. Not only do hospital long-term care beds receive the same funding as long-term care beds in other facilities, but even the most intense hospital beds – Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds – do not cost as much as $3,500 per day. Acute care bed funding ranges from several hundred to a thousand dollars or more per day depending on the level of care that patients need.  Already, Ontario patients have among the shortest length-of-stay in hospital of anywhere in Canada, meaning that patients are discharged faster than ever.

Moreover, one of the most common complaints of residents and their families and advocates in Ontario’s long-term care homes is that there is not enough care provided to keep residents safe and meet their needs for daily care. Families who can afford to hire in extra care are forced to do so at their own cost, meaning that costs are not less, the burden is simply shifted onto families when their loved ones are in need. A private PSW can cost $25-$30 per hour and a nurse can cost double that. To buy private care costs families up to hundreds of dollars per day.  In any case, there is no place to move patients since, as of December 2017 there are 34,000 people on the wait list for long-term care.

But even more concerning are the statements this week and in the last few weeks about finding “efficiencies” and suggesting bed cuts in Ontario’s hospitals. Ontario already has suffered decades of cuts to hospital services. This province now has the fewest hospital beds left per person of any province in Canada, the least amount of RN and RPN nursing care per patient in hospital, the lowest hospital funding in the country and the highest rate of hospital readmissions.  In fact, among all OECD nations, Ontario ranks right at the bottom in the number of hospital beds left per person. Only Mexico and Chile of all developed nations have fewer.

See charts and sources here:

“Doug Ford’s comments in Thunder Bay sound disturbingly like the language used in the Harris-era hospital cuts and restructuring. We are deeply concerned,” said Jules Tupker, Thunder Bay Health Coalition co chair. “Thunder Bay’s hospital is packed to the rafters. Patients are on stretchers in hallways and every conceivable space. We simply cannot take any more hospital cuts.”

In recent weeks, Ford has called for the implementation of a Toyota manufacturing process called “LEAN” to find cuts in hospitals. This is an old idea that has already been used in health care since the 1990s and is widely despised and ridiculed by health care professionals, nurses, support staff and patient groups.

“Patients are not widgets or car parts in a manufacturing plant and they ought not to be treated as such,” said Sara Labelle, a laboratory technologist and Health Coalition Board Member. ”In any case, we already did LEAN years ago. The result? Cuts to front-line staff and services, less care for patients, privatized services and more user fees.”

“We already did LEAN. In one example, it got to the level that the people who were spending their time managing LEAN rather than providing patient care  were moving around the drug carts to make flow more “efficient” , leaving them out in the open in patient areas and the drugs got stolen. It was not cheaper. It was ridiculous,” said Shirley Roebuck, RN, emergency room nurse and Board Member of the Health Coalition.

While in the north Ford pledged to “cap all taxes”, even though Ontario already funds our public services at the lowest rate of any province in Canada. (See 2018 Ontario Budget Chart 3.3).  There are tax loopholes, such as in the Employer Health Tax, that allow law firms and accounting firms for example in downtown Toronto to avoid paying the tax even though their employees are among the highest income earners in the country, taking home hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. If the EHT loopholes were closed, more than $2 billion per year could be found to improve health care services for all Ontarians. Ontario needs revenue measures that can improve funding and services that Ontarians need, not cuts and unfair tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the public interest.  

“Health policy cannot be made up on the fly, based on incorrect anecdotes and simplistic vows to find “efficiencies” that risk even more serious cuts than we have already experienced,” warned Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “The result is real suffering for people when ill and in need. In this province the most critically urgent need in our hospitals is to reopen closed wards, beds and operating rooms, to restore care levels and to deal with the dangerous overcrowding and waits. We need more hospital beds, not more cuts.”

The Coalition is urgently seeking a meeting with Doug Ford to brief him on the under-capacity crisis in Ontario’s hospitals and to ask him to rethink his statements of the last few weeks.

The Coalition is calling on all political parties in Ontario to pledge to a restore public hospital capacity, to reopen closed beds, wards and hospital floors, a guarantee that patients will not be required to wait on stretchers in hallways for 24 hours or more to get a hospital bed, and enough hospital funding to deal with the crisis at 5.3% increases for the next four years.

The Ontario Health Coalition has spent the last decade working with local MPPs and municipal politicians of all political stripes and local groups to stop the hospital cuts and save services. Together, in recent years, we stopped the closure of the Welland Hospital, saved the Wallaceburg Hospital, stopped the closure of the birthing units in Brockville and Leamington, helped save the ICU and services in Midland, saved rural hospitals across Ontario from being closed, and won the reopening of beds and services across the province.

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For more information, contact:

Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8



Ontario Health Coalition Media Release

“A public dental plan, like public health care, is fundamentally about equity.  It’s about providing all people with the opportunity to live healthy, dignified lives, and fulfil their human potential.”  -- Natalie Mehra, Executive Director OHC


March 20, 2018 (Toronto)  “Public dental care to cover everyone is welcome news from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath,” says Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We stand in full support of public dental care.  Expanding the principles of Medicare to include dental care makes sense, it’s long overdue.

"The Coalition takes issue with those who respond to the positive expansion of services that improve the quality of lives of Ontarians in the public interest. There is far too little critical response to unfactual and damaging statements about Ontarians not being able to afford these programs and services.

 “We must challenge head-on this notion that our society, one of the richest in the world, cannot afford to take care of each other like this.  People are paying already for dental care – and they’re paying more than they would through a publicly-administered non-profit plan – and getting less.

“What is unaffordable for far too many of us is paying out-of-pocket when you are elderly without much income, or sick, or in an emergency.  What the naysayers will never tell you is that Ontario has the lowest funding for all our public services of any province in Canada.  There is considerable room to improve funding, even just to come up to the average of the rest of the country.  This means the wealthy must pay their fair share, as they did in generations past.  If we all contribute fairly, then we all will benefit fairly from the expanded services we all need.

 “A public dental plan, like public health care, is fundamentally about equity.  It’s about providing all people with the opportunity to live healthy, dignified lives, and fulfil their human potential. 

“We are pleased that Ontario’s politicians are raising expectations of what government can do to improve lives and create a compassionate society.  We are asking our supporters to speak out in support of this initiative, and of all the initiatives to bring a comprehensive and universal public drug coverage program for all Canadians, to push to rebuild our hospital capacity, to restore beds and services to meet people’s needs, and to build up long-term care for Ontarians. 

“We can and must stop the dangerous trend of diminishing expectations, because these only hurt ordinary people and benefit the wealthiest, who no longer want to contribute their fair share,” Mehra said.  “We can build upon the amazing public health system we currently have and expand it to fill in the gaps, redress backlogs and restore the vision of a comprehensive health system for all people.”


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For more information, contact:

Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8


Ontario Health Coalition Media Release: Promise to Extend Funding a Positive Step

February 2, 2018 (Toronto) – “Although the Minister’s announcement today promising to extend funding for 1,235 ‘temporary’ hospital beds for one year is a positive step it is only a temporary band aid that will not solve the hospital overcrowding crisis,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition to news media today,  “More is needed.”

Despite the Minister’s welcome announcement of 1,200 temporary hospital beds last fall, Ontario’s hospital overcrowding crisis continues.  “Flu season is not the cause of the overcrowding crisis in hospitals,” Mehra said.  “This crisis has been building for over a decade as a result of the most extreme cuts to hospital funding in Canada, resulting in severe bed shortages and hospitals stacked with sick people in halls and emergency rooms.” 

Cuts have made it impossible for hospitals to plan and expand to meet the needs of our growing population.  This announcement by Minister Hoskins must be put into the context of the crisis as it exists today – right now. Ontario communities have lived with the deepest cuts to hospital services compared to any other province in Canada.  And, more alarmingly, the cuts are deeper than in any other country in the developed world.

Please note this fact:  Ontario has the fewest hospital beds per person, the least amount of nursing care per patient, and the most severe hospital overcrowding in all of Canada.

Mehra warned that the government’s written fiscal plan is to increase funding for one year and then cut health care funding the year after the election. Leading into June’s provincial election, the Coalition is calling for all Ontario political parties to commit to developing a capacity plan to reopen hospital beds, operating rooms and services based on the population’s need for care.

“No more opportunistic pre-election promises.”

“You can’t cut funding for a decade and then a year before an election start to put some – but not enough – money back in.  People are suffering and we need a real plan to restore public hospital capacity to reasonable, rational, evidence-based levels to get us out of the ongoing crisis.  Anything less is irresponsible and inhumane,” concluded Mehra.


For more information contact: 416-441-2502

Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8


Ontario Energy Board’s Proposal to Reduce Consumer Group

Counsel to the Vulnerable Energy Consumers Coalition (VECC)

Correspondence from counsel to the VECC to express VECC’s serious concerns regarding recent changes proposed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) which would result in less consumer group participation and scrutiny of residential hydro rate applications. Read the correspondence from counsel to the VECC.


Enabling Aging in Place

By The National Research Council

National Research Council shared workshop report on Aging in place. This report summarizes the discussions that took place at a national workshop on Aging in Place hosted by the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa on November 30, 2016. The objectives of the workshop were to identify the key challenges, or combinations of challenges, that provide the most promising opportunities to help seniors stay living in their homes for as long as possible. For NRC, this was a first step in being able to identify areas where it could then contribute to solutions, either directly or by connecting other players who can play a direct role.

Click here for the report on Enabling Aging in Place


CURC - Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

By CURC Toronto&York Area Council

In January, Sue Craig, a member of their Executive Board and Barry Stevens President of Toronto and York Region Area Council of CURC represented at the Standing Committee on Finance and Budget Affairs during its pre-budget consultations.
Their written submission and presentation focused on the importance of renewing and enhancing public services, reversing privatization, fairer taxation, and fairer cost-sharing among municipal, provincial and federal government.
Their proposals addressed the urgency of climate change; reversing the trend towards privatization in healthcare and actually extending the range of services covered by OHIP; increased support for affordable housing and transit; and restoring the generation and distribution of electricity to public hands.
They also called for an end to government downloading and a fairer allocation of costs for services among the three levels of governments, as well as greater fairness in the tax system based on ability to pay.

View written submission and their speaking notes


Census Results Call for Reviewing Old Age Security Eligibility
By Ghazy Mujahid

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Ontario Society of Senior Citizens' Organizations, it members or partners.

The Liberals reversed the Conservatives’ decision announced in 2012 to gradually boost the eligibility age for Old Age Security (OAS) payments from 65 to 67 years between 2023 and 2029. This was in keeping with an election pledge. When questioned about the reversal, announced in the Liberals’
first budget in March 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau had replied to the House of Commons Finance Committee that “The approach taken to changing the Old Age Security by the previous government, in my estimation, was arbitrary.”

Read the full article.


Emergency Department Crises and Hospital Bed
Excerpt from Ontario Health Coalition

As you may know, there are media stories across Ontario about emergency department overloads. Hospitals are reporting that the flu and/or other viruses have created a surge. Some are saying that the increase in volumes has been happening over months/years. In December hospitals were reporting occupancy levels well over 100 per cent in many areas -- far above internationally-accepted benchmarks for safe patient care.

Lakeridge Health has reported that all four of its hospitals are in surge. They have opened an emergency "command centre" to deal with the crisis.

The Durham Health Coalition asked us to help organize a press conference on this. The local hospital CEO has attributed the crisis to an upswing in patient volumes and the flu. We are going to point out the systemic issues (too few beds and not enough capacity to deal with yearly holiday/flu upsurge, dangerous levels of understaffing and low bed capacity, failure of the provincial government to take the situation seriously and provide adequate resources, years of underfunding).

View the attached backgrounder explaining the same issues for hospitals across the province.


Patients First Bill puts Bureaucracy first 
Excerpt from Patients Canada

The Government of Ontario recently passed Bill 41, also known as the Patients First Act on December 7th, 2016. 

Before the passing of Bill 41, a number of organizations and individuals presented their concerns before a legislative committee made up of the three Ontario political parties.
Please find below Patients Canada's presentation on the Patients First Act: 
View Patients Canada's presentation 
Also, please find below Ted Ball's presentation on the Patients First Act. 
His presentation is in agreement with Patients Canada's stance that the Patients First Act does not put patients first. 
View Ted Ball's presentation 

List of Ontario long-term care homes that have been dealing with serious problems.
Excerpt from Concerned Friends

Concerned Friends: A VOICE FOR QUALITY IN LONG TERM CARE report for the first time our list of Ontario long-term care homes that have been dealing with serious problems. The health ministry announced this year that it will ramp up inspections of homes such as these. Also, why are residents in one long-term care home receiving less physiotherapy than before? Wasn’t the new funding formula of 2013 supposed to fix that?

Click here for more information


Ontario War On Addiction Needlessly Targets Seniors And Disabled
Excerpt from HuffPost by Marvin Ross Writer, publisher 

Ontario just announced that it is starting its war against addiction and deaths from opioid overdoses by targeting the elderly and disabled. Beginning in January 2017, Ontario will no longer cover the cost of higher doses of certain pain medications on its drug benefit formulary. The formulary covers the cost of drugs for senior citizens and the disabled. Those on higher doses will have to pay for these prescriptions themselves or have their doctors prescribe lower doses in sufficient quantity to make up for the single pill or long-acting patches they get now.

In an explanation to pharmacists, the government stated that part of the rationale is that they want to stop the diversion of legitimately prescribed medications which they call a "public health and safety issue in Canada." That assumes that a considerable amount of the drugs on the street are diverted from legitimate prescriptions, which is not the case.

For more details, please follow the link below.


Do we jump on or off the bandwagon? The Patients First Act, 2016
Source:Care Watch

Let’s think about the new Patients First Act before jumping on or off the bandwagon!

Introduction of Bill 210, the Patients First Act, 2016 offers a key opportunity for Ontarians to assess the health system changes that Minister Hoskins proposes.  These changes will have a significant, long-term impact on the range and quality of health services Ontarians receive through our publicly funded Medicare system. They will affect our experience as users, providers and taxpayers.
The draft legislation will amend approximately 20 pieces of legislation in order to implement the proposed reforms.  The Bill is complex and the way it amends these other Acts requires careful analysis of the intent as well as effects or probable outcomes.  

Care Watch has a longstanding commitment to advocate for better, more accessible home care for senior citizens.  It is through this lens that we will be watching and commenting on the proposals.

Click here for the report


Ontario Health Coalition Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs  
Priority Recommendation: Stop Devastating Hospital Cuts & Restore Funding to Average of Other Provinces as submitted by Ontario Health Coalition
Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director, Natalie Mehra presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at the Ontario Legislature on Monday, February 1st, 2016.

Hospital global funding increases have been set below the rate of inflation since at least 2008. Since 2012/13 global hospital budget funding levels have been frozen. In sum, this means that global hospital budgets have been cut in real dollar terms (inflation-adjusted dollars) for 8 years in a row. This is the longest period of hospital cuts in Ontario’s history and there is no end in sight. The evidence shows that the hospital funding formula and austerity measures that have cut global hospital budgets in real dollar terms for almost a decade, have resulted in a dramatic reduction in needed services. By key measures, Ontario now ranks at the bottom of comparable jurisdictions in key measures of hospital care levels.

As a result, hospitals large and small in every geographic region of Ontario are cutting needed services. Hospitals are now at dangerous levels of overcrowding; staffing levels have dropped precipitously; and patients are suffering as they are forced to wait longer and drive further to access care and are discharged before they are stable.
A sampling of recent cuts:

  • North Bay – 30 – 40 beds closing and 140 staff positions to be cut.
  • Brockville – 17 Registered Nurses cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • London – up to 500 surgeries including hip, knee, gall bladder and others cancelled until next fiscal year due to inadequate funding of surgery budgets.
  • Woodstock – hip, knee and other surgeries cancelled til next fiscal year.
  • Trenton – virtually all surgeries cut and closed down along with half the remaining acute care beds.
  • Minden – the hospital CEO is speculating openly about closing the Minden hospital.
  • Niagara – five entire hospitals to be closed and replaced with one.
  • Windsor - 160 nurses and staff positions to be cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • Kitchener - Waterloo – 68 staff positions to be cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • Midland – at risk: birthing, cafeteria, OR closure 2 days per week, ICU beds to be cut, along with beds and other services.

The Ontario Health Coalition is deeply concerned about the cuts to our province’s public hospitals and has focused our pre-budget submission on one key recommendation:

Recommendation: The hospital cuts must be stopped immediately. Hospital funding must be restored to the average of the other provinces in Canada and funding must go to restoring and improving service levels to meet population need.

Click here for more information

Click here to visit  Ontario Health Coalition website



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