Letter to the Editor – Ontario Health Care

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Dear Editor,

I have been reading a few different opinions regarding the Ford government outsourcing our health care, including opinions from the Rightwing National Post, who paint Ford as an innovator, rather than the ideologue that he actually is.

My sense is that our health care problem stems from the fact that Ontario spends the least per capita, in Canada, on its health care system. Just to reach the average of what other Canadian provinces spend on health care, funding would have to increase by $591 per person, which would generate around $7 billion for our health care system.

So you have to ask why we aren’t doing this, and we get right back to ideology. Ford and his government believe that the private sector does things better, though examples abound where this is not the case. You just have to remember the debacle in our for-profit nursing homes during Covid 19, where shareholder profits became more important than patient care.

British Columbia is also wrestling with the problems in its own health care system, but what is happening there is a cautionary tale. They already outsource a number of healthcare procedures as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, and while this strategy was successful in reducing wait lists in the short term, funnelling public dollars to for-profit corporations contributed to workforce shortages in the public system, as health care workers migrated to the private sector where they were paid better.  

A study was done recently on how much it was costing the BC government to outsource these procedures. The startling result of this inquiry was that procedures in private clinics cost nearly 4 times as much as in the public system. The reasons for this were identified as profit margins, capital costs (private sector capital assets that the public pays for, but will never own), duplicating administrative structures, higher labour costs, and extra billing, the latter of which is contrary to the Health Act. We are paying for setting up a parallel system while our own public system is being underutilised due to staffing shortages, which will only get worse as private clinics poach staff from our public system.

So why is it, in what is arguably the richest province in Canada, we can only afford a 1% pay increase for our health workers, (Bill 124), and yet we presumably have enough money to cover the increased costs to our health care system that privatization is going to bring? It doesn’t add up.

Ford was right when he said “the status quo is not working”. But he is wrong to suggest that redirecting public health care dollars to the profits of private companies is the answer. There is an alternative. We could adequately fund the public system.

Colin Creasey,
Kemptville

 

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