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May 24, 2023

Letter to the Editor: Creating a Crisis in Health Care

Doug Ford at Stevenson Memorial Hospital

Doug Ford during a recent visit to Stevenson Memorial Hospital.


LETTER TO THE EDITOR — Doug Ford has learned an old trick from his buddy Mike Harris: how to drive a dump truck through our public system. Remember John ‘Create-a-Crisis’ Snobelen? He wanted to privatize as much as he could of the public education system. His modus operandi was first to bankrupt the system we had.

Mr Ford is starving the public health care sector by holding nurses’ wage increases to 1%. That was struck down by the courts and an arbitrator awarded nurses a small increase which does nothing to compensate for the stress of helping us though the rigours of COVID, or the chronic underfunding of the public system. Some nurses have retired early, others have gone to the US.

Many have gone to temp agencies where they can earn a higher wage and pick their workplace. The temp agencies, in turn, lease nurses back to the hospital at 2 or 3 times what the hospital could pay them when they were on staff. And this contributes to the chronic underfunding that hospitals have suffered for years.

It doesn’t help that Ontario spends the least per capita of all the other provinces. Or that Mr Ford underspent an additional $1.8 billion from what he planned to spend on health care in FY 2021-2.

By creating a crisis in public health care, what are the consequences of what this government has done? Here’s a shortlist …

Staffing shortages in facilities that require nurses and PSWs, which disrupt their ability to deliver health care promptly and properly.

A back log of more common procedures such as knee replacements and cataract surgeries and some diagnostic and treatment procedures for serious conditions like cancer.

A very long list of people waiting for a family doctor and who must rely on ERs being open and accessible even for relatively minor complaints.

Emergency room closures due to a shortage of staff – especially disheartening (and dangerous) for rural communities.

Mr Ford’s solution is to privatize as much of the health care system as he can get away with. Never mind that for-profit long term care homes had a higher death rate from COVID than publicly funded homes, he has allocated most new LTC beds to private corporations. Never mind that for-profit surgeries charge two to three times more than the same procedures done in public hospitals. Those costs won’t be paid by patients. They’ll be paid by OHIP. More public money is going to private profit for the benefit of wealthy corporations (and their shareholders) already lining up for the gravy train.

The irony is that there is an easier (and cheaper) fix for the back log problem: just pay hospitals more to run their operating rooms and scanning machines 24 hours a day.

But that doesn’t jive with the Conservatives’ grand plan to hand public benefits to private profit.

If you dislike what the Ford government is doing to our public health care system, you can say so in a citizen referendum organized by the Ontario Health Coalition. This Friday and Saturday (May 26 and 27), you can vote at one of several polling stations in Grey-Bruce. Or you can vote now, online at https://publichospitalvote.ca/.

The question is ‘Do you want our public hospital services to be privatized to for-profit hospitals and clinics?’

References:

Deliberate underfunding to create crisis in health care preps for privatization

Wikipedia entry for John Snobelen

Fiscal watchdog finds Ontario spent $7.2B less than planned, projects smaller deficit

Ontario passes landmark health bill to expand private health clinics

David McLaren,
Owen Sound

 


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