With two days until Election Day, more than one million Ontarians have already cast their ballot— about 10 per cent of the voter population. As we discussed last week, a surprising election outcome is unlikely. Despite that, partisan punches are still flying in a bid for second place.
We took a look at one story that has been generating a lot of social media attention over the last couple days regarding blood test rumours.
Amid growing chatter about privatization in Ontario’s health-care system, the cost of blood tests in the province was trending this past weekend. A number of tweets from Ontario residents went viral, warning people that several blood tests—including one for cancer screening—had been taken off the list of OHIP-covered tests. The story was quick to spread online, with claims that Ford was behind the cuts growing on TikTok and other media outlets.
The story prompted several tweets from election candidates, including a now deleted tweet from social media savvy Tyler Watt, a Liberal candidate for Nepean, where he contended that “Doug Ford’s Conservatives have appeared to quietly cancel a number of OHIP covered tests including cancer screenings which now cost $86.” NDP leader Andrea Horwath also chimed in.
However, on Monday, the Ministry of Health poured cold water on the rumours. In a statement, a spokesperson from the Ministry asserted that “there have not been any changes to tests covered under OHIP — Schedule of Benefits-Laboratory Services (SOB-LS) that may have led to a patient being charged.” LifeLabs also issued a statement noting that no medically necessary laboratory tests have been de-listed from OHIP.
Social Media Volume
Despite many deleting their ill-informed attacks against the PCs, we live in an era of digital permanence. Traction over the weekend was high, garnering significant attention after initial claims were made. Overall volume tapered into Monday, when the Ministry of Health squashed the rumours.
Push Back Verdict— Bad News Travels Fast
In a relatively quiet election period, this issue made a lot of noise. For many Canadians, our health-care system is a point of pride and, according to our insights, the second most important issue for voters this election. Despite the Ministry of Health’s attempt to squash the rumours on Monday, the misinformation was able to spread like wildfire over the weekend. This has the potential to reach undecided voters— particularly those that are young and consume much of their election news through social media channels.
While young TikTok users aren’t likely to tip the scales this election period, this weekend’s debacle is as a prime example of how quickly news—real or fake—can spread online.
We will continue to monitor this issue for traction and provide an update in a future edition.
Have any questions about the news out of Queen’s Park this week? Please reach out to our political experts at email@example.com.