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Ontario Health Coalition Skewers Chamber Report On Privatization

Posted: March 15, 2016

(March 15, 2016)

Author: AM 980

The Ontario Health Coalition is firing back at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for its report on health care reform, claiming that the focus needs to be on health rather than wealth.

The Chamber report laid out a case for privatization to ease the strain on the public healthcare system, which the OHC not only claimed would cause Ontarians harm, but relied on poorly researched and manipulative data.

In its report, the Chamber didn’t advocate for a move away from single payer healthcare, nor to an Americanized model, but looked to countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, which have universal coverage, but also options for patients and consumers, leveraging the “robust and equitable role of industry in other single-payer models.”

According to the OHC, the math doesn’t add up.

The OHC accused the report of overstating expenditure data where the Chamber reported that “health spending in Ontario consumes nearly half of the provincial budget, constituting approximately $54 billion in the 2016 budget.”

The coalition indicated that the Chamber misreported the figure, as the province’s 2016 budget reported healthcare spending at 38.7 per cent.

In response to the Chamber’s year-long plan to develop a new blueprint for sustainable health care with more opportunity for more partnership with the private sector, the OHC argued that the evidence actually worked against bolstering for-profit care, because of the risk of hardship for patients, increased user fees, greater inequality in access, and higher costs for public insurers.

“We are disappointed that the Chamber came out with this report, which is neither in the interests of Ontarians nor in the interests of many of the Chamber’s members,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC. “Privatization is not an add-on to public health care, it is a take-away. It drives up costs, deprives our local towns of needed services and results in user fees of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for patients when they are sick, elderly and least able to pay.”

Considering the public interest, the OHC claimed most businesses in Ontario would not be in favour of paying higher benefits costs to private clinics, as an example. The organization argued that expansion of privatization would favour urban centres, while smaller communities and rural areas would experience cuts.

“There are so many improvements that the Chamber of Commerce can and should advocate, rather than privatization,” said Ross Sutherland, chairman of the OHC. “Ontarians–and Ontario businesses–need an expansion of public health care to cover prescription drugs, thereby reducing the cost and expanding coverage to all Canadians. We need improved planning, better management of overused prescription drugs and medical technologies, and integration of home care into a public non-profit system that gets funding to the front-lines more efficiently, for example. We hope that the Chamber revisits their position prior to its upcoming series of reports and recommendations.”

The Ontario Health Coalition claims that any universal single-tier public health system will not be possible if for-profit privatization of medically needed hospital and physician services was allowed.

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