The choice of former bank executive Don Drummond, whose views “are clearly skewed to increased private delivery of health care, to review health spending is unacceptable and clearly indicates where the Liberal government is heading on this file after the October 2011 provincial election,” says Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the hospital arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents 35,000 hospital staff province-wide.
In May 2010, as a TD Bank executive, Drummond co-authored a report that not only promoted private sector involvement in health care delivery, but challenged the government to “open the door more widely to private sector involvement and capitalize on the huge economic potential…”
“Drummond’s premise, that health care spending is unsustainable does not stand up to scrutiny. Hospital cost increases, for example, have been flatlined, relative to gross domestic product since the creation of Medicare in Canada. It is the private delivery of health care, drugs, medical technologies and for-profit care – the elements for which Drummond is a champion, that are unsustainable and spiking health care spending.
“Private-public partnership (P3) hospitals – Ontario is building 24 – cost 30 per cent more to build and operate and are 30 per cent smaller than hospitals that are publicly-owned and operated. The cost overruns on the first four P3 hospitals in Ontario were $950,000,000 according to the provincial auditor general. We cannot afford more private sector involvement in the delivery of health care services,” says Hurley.
Studies show that Ontario receives $250 less per citizen than any other province for its hospital services as a result of the inequities in the federal transfer system. A meta-analysis published several years ago in the Canadian Medical Journal showed higher death rates in hospitals and clinics run on a for-profit basis.
“We have the most efficient hospital system in Canada – the fewest beds and staff measured against population and the shortest lengths of stay,” says Hurley. This efficiency is threatened by privatization which will suck dollars that should be spent on care into profits.
At an emergency meeting of the OCHU executive in Kingston today, a motion was passed asking the Liberal government to rescind Drummond’s appointment.
“Coy commitments from the Liberal government to public sector delivery, while appointing a leading advocate for health care privatization, are very disturbing. Hospital staff, represented by CUPE, will meet in April to discuss a vigorous campaign of resistance to privatization of the services we deliver,” says Hurley.
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