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LHIN failures make cutbacks more difficult -- but beware the future, Ontario

Health care slashers and right-wingers are beginning to understand the pickle they are in over the falling faith in the the LHINs, the Liberal government's instrument of choice to cut health care services.  Here's the conclusion of today's Ottawa Citizen editorial:

With an aging population and rising health-care budgets,it is difficult to imagine a year in which every health network in the province doesn't face some very tough decisions involving a region's crucial health-care services. Without public trust, those decisions will be much harder, if not impossible. Which is why Marin's (the Ombudsman) findings are crucial.

Indeed, LHIN imposed cuts will be harder now that the LHINs have been discredited.  (What a pity!)  But this won't stop those cuts.

And here's another troubling thought.  If the LHINs are becoming blunt instruments,  another instrument may be introduced to make the cuts down the road. 

In other provinces the trend has been for governments to make health care decision-making even more remote from local communities and even less politically accountable.  (Alberta, for example, recently removed its regional health boards and established a single province-wide [and politically remote] health care board.)

And such a change, I fear, is quite a possible outcome of further "reform" of health care decision-making in Ontario.

That's not to say we should ease up on the Liberals, or the LHINs, as they cut hospital services.  Just that, given the balance of forces, our struggle for universal, comprehensive and accessible public health care is not going to be subject to easy victories, now or into the foreseeable future.  In the interim, we are just going to have to keep chipping away, and point out the problems on the horizon as loudly and as clearly as we can.


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