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RELEASE: Doug Ford’s First Cut Will Hurt Families with the Sickest Children the Most

Posted: July 3, 2018

(July 3, 2018)

Doug Ford’s First Cut Will Hurt Families with the Sickest Children the Most:

Health Coalition Calls for Ford to Restore Public Drug Coverage & Proper Public Consultation About Policy Changes that Impact Ontarians’ Lives and Pocketbooks

(Toronto) – 24-hours after being sworn in as Ontario’s new Premier, Doug Ford’s government issued a press release on the Canada Day weekend revealing a plan to cut health care coverage. Details are scant. It appears that the plan is to roll back OHIP+ — the Liberal government’s expansion of public drug coverage to those aged 24 and under – so that only those families and young people who do not already have a private drug plan will be covered.

As reported, the plan may sound neutral but it is not. In recent years co-payments and user fees for employees with private plans have increased substantially. Many plans require the individual who needs medications to pay a deductible and/or a co-payment of 20 percent. For families of children with cancer or serious illnesses, drug costs can amount to thousands of dollars per year meaning that co-payments can range up to hundreds of dollars per month. These families end up on a bureaucratically costly, time consuming and inadequate patchwork of programs to try to cover costs.  The bottom line? Doug Ford’s first major policy announcement will cut full public coverage, require families, young workers and businesses to pay the tab for it, and will mean new user fees that in the worst cases could amount to hundreds of dollars per month for those families with the sickest children.

“This is no way to make public policy changes,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “The announcement lacks all pertinent details, there was no consultation and apparently some “inner circle” made this decision before the government was even sworn in. Yet there was no mention whatsoever of this plan in the election campaign.”

The Coalition is concerned about the direction of the new government on health care. Ontario was moving towards the first significant expansion of public medicare and was proudly leading the country. “OHIP+”, the new expansion of medicare to cover drugs, maintained the principle of universality – that all Canadians are covered equally and therefore we all have an interest in protecting a high-quality public health system for everyone. This principle is vitally important. Ford’s cut dismisses this principle and rolls back the significant gain that was made with the new program.

“While Mr. Ford may have saved money for government, it is a false savings. Businesses, families and young workers have to pick up the cost for the cut to the public drug program coverage,” noted Ms. Mehra. “Mr. Ford would do well to remember that he has no mandate to cut health care and no mandate to privatize it and we intend to fight every cut and every attempt to privatize health care tooth and nail. He should reverse this bad policy decision and resume proper parliamentary processes and proper democratic public consultation about public policy changes that negatively impact millions of Ontarians’ household budgets.”

The Coalition has been asking where the more than $22 billion (current $) in cuts to revenues over 3-years that fund our health care and other public services is going to come from and has not received answers. To put this in context, Mike Harris cut $15 billion (also current $) from revenues in his first 4-years. This weekend’s announcement is just the beginning. The Coalition is gearing up to fight attempts to restructure, cut and privatize health care.

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