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Docs unwisely demand a federal funding deal ASAP

Contrary to a demand from the leader of Canadian doctors, the federal Conservative government is in no hurry to start negotiations for a new  federal-provincial health care funding accord.  

Fair enough: very few governments would want to ink up a deal that commits them to long term funding increases if the economy is in the doldrums.

From the point of view of advocates of public health care this also makes sense: it's going to be tough sledding to get a deal with the needed long term funding increases if the economy is tanking.   Also, getting a deal closer to the next  federal election will encourage the Tories to actually think of what the public might want -- and that will encourage them to spend on public health care.  

During the past election, the federal Conservatives were forced to promise that they would continue the 6% increases for health care for at least two years after the current funding accord expires in the spring of 2014.  But for how long, and under what conditions remains unclear.  Helpfully, the Ontario government has proposed a ten year deal with the current 6% escalator. 

Other (good) news: the federal Tory Health Minister says she wants one health care deal with all the provinces.  There was some speculation earlier that they would make separate deals with separate provinces. Without one deal, country-wide standards go up in smoke.  And with that, the principles of the Canada Health Act: a universal, accessible, comprehensive, portable, and publicly administered health care system across the land.

Of course, we also need a federal government willing to enforce CHA principles, but we will have to deal with that another day...


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Health care funding falls, again

Real provincial government health care funding per-person has fallen again this year in Ontario, the third year in a row.  Since 2009 real funding per-person has fallen 2.6% -- $63 per person. 

Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 -- 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).

Ontario funds health care less than any other province -- indeed, the province that funds health care the second least (B.C.) provides $185 more per person per year, 4.7% more.  
Provincial health care spending in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario) is now  $574 higher per person annually than in Ontario. 

 Ontario has not always provided lower than average health care funding increases-- but that has been the general pattern since 2005.
Private expenditures on health care have exceeded Ontario government increases …

Ontario long-term care staffing falls far short of other provinces

CUPE and others are campaigning for a legislated minimum average of four worked hours of nursing and personal care per resident per day in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  New research indicates that not only is LTC underfunded in Ontario, it is also understaffed compared to the other provinces. 
LTC staffing falls short:  The latest data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (and based on a mandatory survey undertaken by Statistics Canada) indicates that staffing at long-term care (LTC) facilities falls far short of other provinces. 
Part of this is driven by a low level of provincial funding for LTC.

Ontario has 0.575 health care full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per bed staffed and in operation.[1]  The rest of Canada reports 0.665 health care FTEs.[2] The rest of Canada has 15.7% more health care staff per bed staffed and in operation than Ontario.[3] 

No other province reports fewer LTC health care staff per resident (or per bed) than Ontario.[4]

Occupancy r…

More spending on new hospitals and new beds? Nope

Hospital funding:  There is something off about the provincial government's Budget claims on hospital capital funding (funding to build and renovate hospital beds and facilities).   

For what it is worth (which is not that much, given the long time frame the government cites), the province claims it will increase hospital capital spending over the next 10 years from $11 billion to $20 billion – or on average to about $2 billion per year.  But, this is just a notional increase from the previous announcement of future hospital capital spending. 

Moreover, even if we did take this as a serious promise and not just a wisp of smoke, the government's own reports shows they have actually funded hospital infrastructure about $3 billion a year over the 2011/12-2015/16 period.

So this “increase” is really a decrease from past actual spending. Even last year's (2016-17) hospital capital funding increase was reported in this Budget at $2.3 billion - i.e. about 15% more than they have ann…