Doug Ford’s private health-care push ‘fatal’ to Ontarians: OHC
Posted: January 18, 2023
(January 18, 2023)
By: Nabeela Damji, Now Toronto
Many Ontarians aren’t impressed with the Ford government’s three-step plan to move thousands of surgeries and diagnostic procedures out of publicly funded hospitals and into private specialized community clinics in Ontario.
Ford says the move will ease the backlog created by the COVID-19 pandemic and will start this spring.
In a statement released Monday, Natalie Mehra, the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), called the move a “fatal threat to the core tenet of Canadian Public Medicare”.
In a joint conference with Health Minister Sylvia Jones on Monday, Ford said “Ontarians are still waiting too long for their treatment, for surgery, and more needs to be done. The status quo is not working.”
The plan was announced as many hospitals are severely short-staffed, and in turn, have significant wait times. However, many argue this plan would force doctors, nurses, and other medical staff to leave public hospitals and move towards independent healthcare facilities.
In a Twitter video, Toronto-based physician Dr. Michael Warner emphasized the need for all hands on deck, from surgeons, anatheseologiests, nurses, and inventory staff.
“Those people work in hospitals right now and unless the government plans on training a whole new group of people it’s unclear to me how this plan will not reduce staffing levels in public hospitals which we already know is a major issue,” he said on Monday.
The government’s plan aims to have for-profit community surgical and diagnostic centers take on certain surgeries and procedures to reduce patient wait times. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’ll be watching to ensure the principles of Canada’s universal public system are respected.
The other main concern is being cost-effective. Warner stated that “according to the auditor’s general report from 2021, patients who received OHIP-funded surgeries in private independent health facilities were more likely to be upsold non-OHIP-funded services that may or may not be medically necessary.”
The OHC echoed this sentiment in their statement saying private for-profit clinics often extra-bill patients illegally and charge patients more for necessary add-ons.
“To me, it makes more sense to better staff and funds public hospitals to provide more outpatient care or to partner with these hospitals to create non for profit-focused factories outside the hospital to get through more of these cases and to divert public funds to private enterprises,” Warner said.