Ontarians should be alarmed that the Liberal government is planning a radical restructuring of health care “premised not on quality of care and best practices, but solely on which hospital can do their surgeries most cheaply,” says Michael Hurley, the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) –which represents 30,000 CUPE hospital workers.
In the Legislature, neither the health minister Deb Matthews, or the Premier denied their government is moving forward on a plan based on a consultant’s report that would reduce local access to services and force hospitals to compete for funding based on a pricing system, after the release of a media report detailing the back-room plan.
If implemented, competition between hospitals would be a “fundamental shift in how care is delivered - a shift that has proven disastrous wherever it has been tried, in Britain and in Ontario,” says Hurley who points to the Liberal’s privatization of home care and of e-health as clear examples of failure. “Competition in home care has meant the quality of care has suffered and costs increased as more private for-profit providers have won contracts. E-health cost Ontario $1 billion and we have nothing to show for that money.“
Smaller community and northern hospitals are particularly vulnerable under this Liberal plan to centralize services, and deny patients access to local care.
“The Liberals never consulted about this kind of health care reform. Now that we are aware that the Liberals intend to treat surgeries and hospital care like a consumer good, Ontarians will mobilize. Liberal MPPs - particularly those from rural and northern communities - may find that the next 18 months heading into the provincial election is more unsettling then they had anticipated. Unfortunately this government appears to be on a collision course with hospital staff, who care passionately about their service. We have the most efficient hospital system in Canada, based on length of stay, staff per patient and beds to population, despite federal underfunding relative to other provinces and we will defend that service because we love it” says Hurley.