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Ford government fails to respond to 72% increase in COVID inpatient days, deepening the capacity crisis

COVID infections continue to drive up hospital costs and inpatient hospitalizations in Ontario. For the most recent fiscal year (April 1, 2022- March 31, 2023) hospital stays related to COVID cost $1.221 billion, according to new CIHI data.   This is about 4% of total hospital spending, creating a very significant new cost pressure beyond the usual pressures of population growth, aging, inflation, and rising utilization.   Costs for COVID related hospitalizations increased 22.2% in Ontario in 2022/23 from the previous fiscal year, rising from $999 million to $1.221 billion.  That rise is particularly notable as the OMICRON spike of late 2021 and early 2022 had passed by the the 2022/23 fiscal year.   The $222 million increase in COVID hospitalization costs came in the same year as the Ford government cut special COVID funding and, in fact, cut total hospital funding by $156 million.     In total, there were 60,653 COVID hospitalizations in Ontario in 2022/3, up from 47,543 in 2021/2. 

Health care capacity crisis? Wait 'til you see what Ford has planned.

Despite the current health care capacity crisis, the Ford government plans to cut health care service levels. Hospitals : The news  is bad for hospital services.  The new Financial Accountability Office (FAO)  report   on the government's health care funding plan reports the government plans 3,000 new beds over the next decade.  That’s about an 8.4% increase in nominal capacity.   Measured against need, however, this will mean a sharp decrease in service levels.   The public wants improved service levels, but the opposite is planned. That "increase" won’t come  even   close to covering off increasing demand for services due to population growth, which according to provincial government projections  will be about 15%. The demands on health care will be much more than this, however, due to a rapidly aging population.  Health care needs are very sensitive to age.  People 65 and over use most of our hospital bed days  -- 58% in 2018/19 . The population of the 65+ age group is

The failure to shrink the male-female wage gap and the attack on public sector wages

Women's wages caught up to male wages when broader public sector (BPS) wages grew but when BPS wages were suppressed, the wage gap grew.  Women comprise 74% of the Ontario education, health care, and social assistance workforce.   A strong female majority is present in all three of these sectors but is especially marked in health care and social assistance, where 762,800 women work.   These three industries account for 31% of all women employees in Ontario. So what happens to these workers has a big impact on women. For men, it's a different story -- education, health, and social assistance account for only 9.89% of all male employment in Ontario. So, overall, males are much less affected by what happens in these sectors. Source:  Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0022-01  Labour force characteristics by industry, monthly, unadjusted for seasonality (x 1,000) These three industries are the great bulk of the provincial broader public sector or "BPS."  The BPS is the por

Ontario hospital and LTC staffing and capacity plans: worse than you thought

By 2027 the PC health care funding plan falls $21.3 billion short, their hospital bed plan falls 500 beds short, their plan to free up hospital capacity by moving hospital patents to long-term care is unlikely to work, and their nurse and PSW staffing plan will fall 33,000 short according to the Financial Accountability Office ( FAO ).  Important and appalling news. But the human problems are actually much worse. The FAO focuses on measuring the gap between the government's stated plans and the government’s stated aspirations.  The bigger -- and much more important -- problem is that the government aspirations fall so very far short of actual human needs. So, on staffing, the FAO makes no claim that government aspirations are adequate to human need. Indeed, their staffing projections do “not reflect an assessment about the quality of services that should be provided by these programs.” As a result, the FAO estimates the government aims to add 1,000 hospital beds between now and

There's money galore for private clinics -- while the PCs starve health care

Actual provincial program spending is much less than "planned" Provincial Spending was $6.4 billion less than planned over the first 9 months of the fiscal year 2022/3 according to the Financial Accountability Office (FAO). That is 5.0% less than budgeted. After the first half of the year, the FAO had reported that the government had underspent its budget by 4.1% ($3.5 billion).  Health was underspent by $1.25 billion – or 2.3% less than planned. This is an increase from an underspend of $859 million reported by the FAO after the first half of the year.   The news of the $1.25 billion underspend on health comes just as the province scooped up another $776 million from the federal government for health care to deal with urgent health needs like the hospital crisis.  But, instead of dealing with urgent hospital needs, it looks like the province will bank the cheque and underspend the health budget it set last March.      Despite the health underspend, the for-profit clinic

Revenue is flowing in -- but harder times are ahead for public sector services

Ontario government revenue is way up -- $16.6 billion higher than the forecast in the Budget just six months ago. That’s an average increase of $2.7 billion per month -- or up another 1.5% every month.  Revealingly, the quarterly increases in revenue reported have grown sharply: from a modest $1.2 billion in the first quarter report, to $5.8 billion in the second quarter report, on to a whopping $9.6 billion now in the government's new 3rd quarter report .  Yet the fact that the government was massively underestimating revenue was obvious right from the get go when the Budget was re-introduced in August.   The slow recognition of the extra revenue reduced pressure on the PC government to improve health care funding during a hospital capacity crisis. And not one extra penny was added for hospitals, despite the crisis.   It would be hardly surprising if more revenue is recognized in the final two reports for this fiscal year – the 2023 Budget and the September 2022/3 Public Accounts.

Four Ways the Ford Government is Privatizing Hospitals

Premier Ford wants for-profit surgical clinics -- but that is just one area where his government is privatizing hospitals.  Unfortunately, there is so much more.    The privatized American heath care disaster is on full display right on our doorstep. According to the US government 31.6 million Americans have no health insurance whatsoever, including 3.7 million children.  Many millions more have inadequate health insurance.  A recent survey indicates that f orty-three percent of working-age adults were inadequately insured in 2022.  Twenty-nine percent of people with employer coverage and 44 percent of those with individual coverage were underinsured.   Forty-six percent of respondents said they had skipped or delayed care because of the cost, and 42 percent said they had problems paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt.  Medical bills hit African Americans and Latinx/Hispanics especially hard. US health care costs per capita are twice Canadian costs ($15,275 [Candian doll