5/25/11

Hudak PCs announce plan to (not) support health care

Well it's confirmed.  The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are going to try to run as defenders of health care.


The only problem is that what they are promising falls far short of the reality of actually defending health care.


Yesterday, the PCs announced that the party's 'top' funding priority will be health care: they will increase health care spending $6.1 billion per year more.  Sounds good right?


However, they only promise to get to the extra $6.1 billion by the end of their first term -- four years from the election.  Moreover, as health care is an expensive proposition, $6.1 billion is less than it appears.   Total spending for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care this year is $47.139 billion.  So a $6.1 billion increase is a 12.9% increase.  With four years to get to that increase,  the average annual increase would be only 3.1%.   


That's less than the current rate of inflation in Ontario: currently the consumer price index is increasing at a rate of 3.6% per year.

Moreover given an aging population, the ability of doctors to secure very significant funding increases, and the rising costs of private sector health care  (i.e. medical technology and drugs), few, if any, seriously doubt that health care inflation runs higher than the consumer price index.    

The proposed increases are a lot less than the Liberals provided:  this year is lower than average but health care operating spending is still getting a 4.2% increase - and even with this hospital services are being cut.


The bottom line: the PCs are promising to cut health care.  They just want to pretend otherwise.


Ohh... by the way, Hudak told the Canadian Press"Every penny that we get from the Harper government will go into our system, and we'll top it off as well." 


This is pretty nervy.  The federal government is increasing health care funding 6% per year -- almost twice the rate Hudak is promising.  In fact, the federal health care funding increase would account for about half the total provincial funding increase.  In other words, the PCs are only planning to increase health care funding about 1.6% per year out of money they themselves will raise.  (Whoopee.)


Finally, from the few words the PCs released, hospitals appear to be under special threat.  More on that tomorrow.

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