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Wynne’s health-care plan is perpetual crisis

Posted: May 28, 2016

(May 28, 2016)

When the Ontario Health Coalition tells you Mike Harris did a better job of running the health-care system than Kathleen Wynne, it says something.

The coalition advocates for publicly funded medicare, representing more than 400 unions, medical professionals, non-profits, student, ethnic, cultural, women’s, seniors’ and anti-poverty groups.

Politically, it leans firmly to the left.

That said, there was no mistaking OHC executive director Natalie Mehra’s message at a meeting with the Sun editorial board last week.

In the OHC’s view, former Conservative premier Harris — dubbed “Mike the Knife” in his day — wasn’t as bad as Liberal premier Wynne on health-care restructuring.

Mehra said while the OHC objected to many of Harris’ health-care policies, at least there was an overall plan in place aimed at achieving recognizable goals, eventually arriving at an identifiable end point.

By contrast, she said, the Liberals have created a permanent crisis in health-care funding, designed to keep health care providers in a perpetual state of uncertainty, while the Liberals slowly starve the system of cash.

After nine straight years of Liberal cuts to hospital funding in terms of real dollars factoring in inflation, the OHC says, Ontario now ranks near the bottom of all Canadian provinces, and of major developed countries, in terms of public resources devoted to health care.

The result has been a wave of hospital and health-care cutbacks across Ontario — with smaller and mid-sized communities taking the biggest hits.

This as evidenced by overcrowded emergency rooms, truncated hospital stays resulting in frequent patient readmissions, nurses unable to provide proper care to patients in hospitals and a lack of home care services for them when they get out.

The OHC describes the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINS) the Liberals set up in 2006, ostensibly to improve medical care across the province by integrating services efficiently, as failures, doing little more than the bidding of government bureaucrats.

It has three priorities:

First, restoring health-care funding in Ontario to at least the average level of the other Canadian provinces and Organization for Economic

Co-operation and Development countries.

Second, a study to determine what Ontario’s actual hospital bed needs are, since the government is using outdated information.

Third, for Ontarians to sign its petition calling for an end to health-care cuts.

We think throwing more public money at a broken provincial template on health-care spending will just result in more wasted spending.

We also see a greater role for the private sector in health-care delivery, which the OHC opposes.

But we agree with its call for a plan based on real-world evidence and data with clear goals, timelines and review mechanisms for ensuring the public is receiving good value for money spent.

Finally, we agree the Liberal status quo is not an option.

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