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Private delivery of public health-care services a ‘fatal threat’: Giroux

Posted: January 16, 2023

(January 16, 2023)

By: Jeff Turl, North Bay Today

Ontario is expanding the private delivery of public health care, and Henri Giroux of the North Bay and District Health Coalition calls it a “fatal threat” and a “terrible blow to our public hospitals.”

Giroux vows a “major fightback.”

In an announcement today, Premier Ford said the province will fund procedures such as cataract surgeries and MRI and CT scans.

Ford lamented “endless debates” about who should deliver health care, but all he cares about is getting people the care they need quickly and safely.

That doesn’t cut it with Giroux.

“The Ford government is planning to privatize our public hospital surgeries and many other public services we have; we don’t need this to happen what needs to happen is fund our public hospital properly.”

Ford says the procedures will continue to be paid for by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, though critics worry what the plan will do to hospital staffing and say patients are sometimes pushed to pay out of pocket for add-ons at the private clinics.

“Already existing private for-profit clinics routinely extra-bill patients thousands of dollars, often illegally, as well as charging patients hundreds or thousands of dollars for extra medically unnecessary add-ons. Moreover, private clinics take scarce staff out of public hospitals to serve lighter-care profitable patients, leaving those with more complex care needs to public hospitals with less funding and staffing to provide for them. This, in the context of an unprecedented staffing shortage is a reckless and damaging idea,” warned the Coalition.

Giroux promises the North Bay and District Health Coalition will hold a forum soon in our area to combat this “Ford/Fedeli conservative government.”

The Province says the first stage of the new plan is to add 14,000 cataract surgeries through “new partnerships” at centres in Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa.

As well, the Province is putting $18 million in existing centres across the province for MRI and CT scans, cataract surgeries, other ophthalmic surgeries, certain gynecological surgeries and plastic surgeries.

Subsequent steps in the plan are set to include expanding the scope of private surgical and diagnostic centres, including more colonoscopy and endoscopy procedures, and in 2024, expanding surgeries at clinics for hip and knee replacements.

“What Ford announced today is a fatal threat to our public health care system,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “If they turn over a significant portion of our public hospitals’ surgeries to for-profits, we will not be able to protect patients against extra charges of thousands of dollars for needed care and from manipulative extra upselling. The fact is that no one has been able to control the private for-profit clinics where they have sprung up in Canada, and Ontario has done a particularly terrible job of controlling for-profit healthcare companies in long-term care and other sectors. Ford’s claims today are patently false.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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