Skip to main content

Liberals support more private clinics - even as clinics turn on them

The Ontario government has gotten into another donnybrook with private clinics for a second time in less than a year.  

Over the summer, they got into a messy dispute with private physiotherapy clinics.

The government stopped 94 physiotherapy clinics from directly billing OHIP. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews said that, over the years, licences to provide these services have been bought up by large corporations.  Moreover, she charged, the "existing 94 clinics have had an unlimited ability to bill the government and have become very creative in they way they bill."

The government claimed that an audit of 15,000 records from the clinics found that 58% of them failed to support OHIP billings.  Five-minute exercise classes were sometimes billed as physiotherapy,  care plans did not measure up, record keeping was incomplete, and  physician referrals were sometimes lacking.

“There is extraordinary growth in expenditures and the audit was one of those factors that just demonstrated to me that there were companies who were just taking advantage of the way the program was set out and taking advantage of their unlimited ability to bill OHIP,” Health Minister Deb Matthews told theStar.

Despite this, the government is actually turning more work over to private clinics, planning to turn over hospital surgeries and other hospital work.

But now the government is back at war with private clinics: the newly established private plasma clinics. The government, opposed to their plan to pay people for their plasma, wants to shut them down.

But the clinics refuse. Indeed, they say they need no license from the government to operate .

In the face of this open defiance, Health Minister Deb Matthews has been reduced to calling in inspectors and threatening to get a court order.  New legislation is also threatened. 

“I expect any company operating in Ontario, and especially in the health care sector, to operate within our laws,” Matthews told the Toronto Star.

But she admits it may take time to shut the clinics down.

The private clinics remain unmoved: “Until that act is passed, the legal opinion we have is we don’t need a licence from the provincial government.”

It sounds a bit like they are playing for time -- an election is coming and, perhaps, a Progressive Conservative government would be more friendly.

With this sort of attitude, it's hard to know why the Liberals are so hell-bent to bring in more private clinics to take over public hospital work.

The Ontario Health Coalition is setting up community and workplace votes in communities across the province to stop the privatization of public hospitals to private clinics. OCHU/CUPE is working with the OHC to help facilitate the vote April 5.  See the OHC web page for details for how you can help, or contact OCHU.


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…