Doctors get lion's share of Budget funding

Forget all the government Budget rhetoric about better home care.  The real winners are the docs.

The Ontario Budget Estimates are out and  the line item primarily covering the doctors ("Ontario Health Insurance") is going up 2.9 per cent to $13.3 billion.  The rest of the health care sector got an increase of  0.3 %, just over one-tenth as much.

In dollar terms, the Ontario Health Insurance line item got an increase of $374 million.  The total increase for all of health care (capital and operating expenses) is only $486 million, so this will eat up more than 3/4 of the total health care increase.

A relatively small group of people are getting most of the total increase in health care spending -- and  about 10% of the total $3.6 billion increase in all provincial spending.

Every $100 million split between 25,000 Ontario physicians means another $4,000 per physician, on average.

The pathetic LHINs (which are the main funders of hospitals, home and community care, and long term care) got a whopping $5.5 million.  That's a tiny increase of 0.02% (yes, that's correct, 2 one-hundreds of one percent). 

The extra cash for the doctors is part of a long pattern under the Liberals of big increases for doctors.  For a while, during bargaining with the doctors, it looked like the government might try to keep a lid on it.  In public, at least, the McGuinty / Duncan government had to take this stance as they were planning on sticking their lesser paid employees (who were entering bargaining right after the docs) with bona fide wage freezes. 

But even at that time there was skepticism about what was really going on --  some thought that they would quietly find ways to keep the cash flowing.   

Judging by the way they buried this, the Liberals would prefer that no one finds out about the increased funding.  So expect to hear more yattering about better home and community care - and very little about extra cash for the docs.

Note: this piece has been clarified to reflect total health care expenditures, increasing the relative portion of new health care money going to the "Ontario Health Insurance" line item.

Photo: The Ontario Legislature, 103 years out of date, courtesy Toronto Public Library

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