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Showing posts from January, 2013

Seniors recommendations head off in wrong direction

The government's new senior's "action plan" discussed in the last post follows on from Dr. Samir K. Sinha’s report  for the government “Living Longer Living Well”.  Sinha's report is labelled only as “Highlights and Key Recommendations”.   A “full report will present considerably more detailed findings and recommendations that will enable the government to expand upon and provide some specific means of implementing the themes and recommendations set out in this Highlights and Key Recommendations document.” So there may be more to come.  
The "Highlights" report makes numerous recommendations in 13 areas.  Indeed the recommendations are stated in a distinctly vague way.  Moreover, they generally follow the well tread path in existing government policy.   
Despite some recognition that the elderly population is growing very rapidly, there is no recommendation for expanded LTC or hospital services and no call for new funding.  
Significant proposals regarding…

A tiny response to growing elder needs

The Ontario government’s 26 page Action Plan for Seniors came out yesterday.  There’s not much to it.  About half of the report simply rehashes what is already in place.
To the good, they at least formally recognize that the elderly population is expanding rapidly and that this is going to require an  “overarching plan” that (absent their reforms) is going to cost a lot of cash. (For more information on the tsunami we are facing in long-term care, and how far short we are falling, click here, here, and here.)
To the bad, their reforms are pipsqueak-sized compared to the problem at hand.
Perhaps the biggest proposal here is their plan to designate 250 beds in long-term care as ‘assess and restore’ beds.   Essentially this means opening hospital beds in long term care facilities.  Instead of using long-term care to provide long-term residential care, they want to use long-term care to provide short-term care (providing curative treatment, as in the hospitals).   

The for-profit long term …

Major decline in nursing in Ontario hospitals

There was a sharp reduction in the number of Registered Nurses (RNs) working in Ontario hospitals in 2011, with a cut of 2,750 RNs to 58,699 according to new CIHI data.  That's a 4.47% decrease in one year.  Community health numbers also took a very hard hit, while numbers were up very slightly in long-term care.

For the first time in a long time the number of Registered Nurses (RNs) in Ontario has begun to decline.  In 2011, employed RNs declined from 95,185 to 94,723, a  decrease of  462, or just less than one-half of one percent.

Registered Practical Nurses (RPN) continue to increase in numbers overall, up 1,023 from 2010, or 3.36%.

Accordingly, the ratio between RNs and RPNs in Ontario has declined from 3.52 employed RN per employed RPN in 2004, to 3.01 RN per RPN.  While this relative decline mimics a country-wide trend, RN numbers across the country still continued to increase in 2011 (from 268,512 in 2010 to 270,724 in 2011).

The overall numbers, however, hide the fact tha…

Admitting the price of privatization (when it all goes bad)

The Globe and Mail kindly lobbed a few questions for the disgraced, former boss of ORNGE, Chris Mazza to swat away.  His responses, published in this weekend's edition, suggest the government was fully onside with his vision -- until the fur hit the fan.
He said he could not grasp why he suddenly became a pariah. “Until November, 2011, I was being incentivized, told I was doing grand things. Not just by my board and by investors, but by deputy and assistant deputy ministers. They cheered me on, constantly. My premier cheered me on.”As evidence, he proffered a handwritten letter from Premier Dalton McGuinty written in March of 2009, congratulating him on, as Mr. McGuinty wrote, “the success at Ornge. You are doing a lot of good for a lot of people. Proud of ya!”“So in November, 2011, I’m great,” Dr. Mazza concluded, “and in December, pardon me, I’m a piece of shit. What changed?” Mazza may have been a little ahead of the Liberal curve, but there is little doubt that he was pursuin…

Public sector employment still lags in Ontario

There has been a lot of claims about how the McGuinty Liberal government has bolstered teachers and other public sector workers.  And in fact they did increase the number of public sector workers as a percent of total employment.

But that was starting from an historically low level.  The previous government was the Mike Harris (Ernie Eves) Progressive Conservative government that put a special focus on cutting public services (or at least those that benefit working people).  Naturally, public sector employment hit an historical low during the PC years.  So, the Liberals have increased the percentage from that level, but it's an historically low starting point.

With a longer perspective, the story is different. The attached chart calculates the percentage since Stats Canada CANSIM records began (in 1976). It shows we are still below historical levels.