Skip to main content

It's OK to close hospital beds

Aside from the predictable (but fun) response from Deb Matthews to yesterday's Ontario Health Coalition report outlining cuts in Ontario hospitals ("It is OK" to close hospital beds, she opined), we did get a snippet or two of information from the government. 

The Star reports the Health Minister's office also made these claims:

  • 70 per cent of hospitals have seen increases  -- 63 hospitals.  This is inaccurate in some way. There are about 159 hospital corporations in Ontario (there's many more hospital facilities).  So if 63 is accurate, that would be 39% of hospital corporations got an increase.  If it is 70%, that would be about 111 hospital corporations. So somebody got the math wrong.
  • The largest decrease that a hospital has received is 1.2 per cent and the largest increase is 2.8 per cent.
  • About 81 per cent of hospitals have seen no more than a 1 per cent swing, up or down. So, if this is true, the large majority of hospitals got either a very small absolute increase or a very small absolute decrease in funding. Still there was no reported comment on the overall change in hospital funding -- since the LHINs were created that has been obscured by the division between LHIN and other forms of hospital funding.
The government's claim that it is increasing overall health care funding ignores the fact that costs are increasing due to increasing population, aging, inflation, and increased utilization.  So, their modest increase in nominal funding means a decrease in real funding -- and, as a result, in health care service.  The Ontario Auditor General cites 6-7% cost pressures for health care, far, far more than actual health care funding. So, for example, even if all the hospitals got a nominal 1% increase, that is a long way off the actual cost pressures they are facing.

Notably, even obedient hospital bosses have, of late, made some concession toward the idea that the cuts they are being forced to impose may mean a reduction in service.  But not the Health Minister.  Not yet, anyway.

By the way, here is the Health Coalition's tart reply on the issue of, alleged, improvements in home and community care offsetting the cuts to hospitals:

“Under the required deficit-elimination plans, hospital beds are being closed down in significant numbers. Hospital services are being cut. Plans for unprecedented privatization of surgeries, diagnostics and therapies are being revealed. Despite the rhetoric of the health minister and our new premier (Kathleen Wynne), these services are not being replaced in non-profit community and home care. They are being cut and privatized.”

Quite right.  

Health Minister Deb Matthews. Photo: London Public Library


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…