Privatizing surgeries likely to increase wait times and cost

A new CCPA report, “At What Cost? Ontario hospital privatization and the threat to public health care”, has found that increasing privatization in Ontario’s health care system will likely increase surgery wait times and the cost to the public. The report used Freedom of Information requests, financial and statistical analysis, and international research to evaluate the costs and benefits of the Ontario provincial government’s plan to increase the use of private, for-profit surgical facilities.

The report found that the Ontario government is significantly underreporting payments to existing private facilities because they do not specifically identify fee-for-service payments as an expenditure category in the Public Accounts. They also found that as for-profit delivery has increased in Ontario, the use of existing public hospital operating room capacity decreased. This growing underutilization of existing public capacity is consistent with findings from Alberta’s privatization of surgeries.  This dynamic results in higher costs without any reductions in overall wait times. The report recommends prioritizing the use of single-entry and team-based referral models, as well as maximizing and extending public operating room capacity to address surgical backlogs.

Facts about food insecurity

With the rising cost of staples affecting many families, Statistics Canada studied the dynamics of income and food insecurity. Food insecurity is “the inability to acquire or consume an adequate diet quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so”. The study found that that the number of families who were food insecure increased from 16% in 2021 to 18% in 2022, and that 8 in 10 of food insecure families had incomes above the poverty line. The report did not analyze how food insecurity varied across the income spectrum beyond the poverty line, but these findings do indicate that access to enough healthy food doesn’t rely on income alone.

Single mothers are most at risk of food insecurity regardless of income, and the highest rates are among Indigenous and Black single mothers. Overall, Indigenous, and racialized families are more likely to experience food insecurity than their non-Indigenous and non-racialized counterparts. Close to 30% of Indigenous and Black families with incomes above the poverty line experienced food insecurity in 2022. Among the ten provinces, food insecurity in 2022 was lowest in Quebec at 14%, and highest in Newfoundland and Labrador at 23%.

Taxes and climate change

A new report from Canadians for Tax Fairness, “Taxes and the path to a green economy”, reviews the extent to which Canadian tax subsidies continue to flow to the fossil fuel industry. They recommend that the federal government go further than their promise to eliminate “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies and eliminate all tax advantages received by fossil fuel corporations. The report also uncovers the fact that wealthy corporations and individuals have benefited tremendously from these subsidies during the same period that they were responsible for the overwhelming majority of fossil fuel emissions. While we all bear a responsibility to pay for climate adaptation and mitigation, we cannot allow those who benefited from the system to shirk their responsibility. The report makes recommendations that will help address both climate action and economic inequality.