Skip to main content

Liberal problems come from their turn to the right

As two Liberals on the (presumed) left of the party declare their intention to run for the leadership, it bears recalling that almost all of the major problems the Liberals have faced in the last few years have come from attempts to re-position the party to the right.

First, Premier McGuinty (and  departing Finance Minister Dwight Duncan) supported moves to privatize public services. This led to a series of failures and scandals that angered the public:
Mississauga gas plant
  • Overpaid private contractors at eHealth; 
  • Scandalous, hidden extra costs at the Brampton "public private partnership" (P3) hospital; 
  • Bloated salaries, highly dubious corporate payments, and limited public oversight enabled at ORNGE by privatization;  and
  • A massive corporate payout after the Liberals opened up energy production to for-profit corporations
Indeed, the Globe reports that the corporation that won the  now infamous Mississauga gas plant project (cancelled at great expense during the last election) was actually in the process of suing Ontario Hydro when it won the bid. The corporation eventually took $10 million from the government for this lawsuit. (But what's that between friends?)

Moreover this corporation paid an incredible 14% interest for construction cost loans for the plant. Capital costs are a major expense in construction projects and this is much, much more than the cost of capital for a public project (over the summer the government was able to borrow at a rate of 1.65% for seven year bonds).  While P3 capital costs are always very pricey, this is a whole new level.

Luckily (for the corporation, not the public) the government kindly agreed to boost their guaranteed revenue by 50%!

At that rate, perhaps it was a bargain to pay hundreds of millions to kill the deal.

It was also a turn to the right when McGuinty and Duncan attacked free collective bargaining in August.  The Liberals were, in effect, tearing up their brand as the party of social consensus.

Notably, this was immediately followed by a sharp fall in the polls for the Liberals as teachers and other labour groups began to return fire over the loss of a core civil right won over decades of struggle.  Shortly, the exit of McGuinty and Duncan followed too.

Will we see any re-thinking by the Liberal leadership candidates of this right wing direction?  There is little sign of it yet.  But time will tell.


Popular posts from this blog

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…