Skip to main content

It's OK to close hospital beds

Aside from the predictable (but fun) response from Deb Matthews to yesterday's Ontario Health Coalition report outlining cuts in Ontario hospitals ("It is OK" to close hospital beds, she opined), we did get a snippet or two of information from the government. 

The Star reports the Health Minister's office also made these claims:

  • 70 per cent of hospitals have seen increases  -- 63 hospitals.  This is inaccurate in some way. There are about 159 hospital corporations in Ontario (there's many more hospital facilities).  So if 63 is accurate, that would be 39% of hospital corporations got an increase.  If it is 70%, that would be about 111 hospital corporations. So somebody got the math wrong.
  • The largest decrease that a hospital has received is 1.2 per cent and the largest increase is 2.8 per cent.
  • About 81 per cent of hospitals have seen no more than a 1 per cent swing, up or down. So, if this is true, the large majority of hospitals got either a very small absolute increase or a very small absolute decrease in funding. Still there was no reported comment on the overall change in hospital funding -- since the LHINs were created that has been obscured by the division between LHIN and other forms of hospital funding.
The government's claim that it is increasing overall health care funding ignores the fact that costs are increasing due to increasing population, aging, inflation, and increased utilization.  So, their modest increase in nominal funding means a decrease in real funding -- and, as a result, in health care service.  The Ontario Auditor General cites 6-7% cost pressures for health care, far, far more than actual health care funding. So, for example, even if all the hospitals got a nominal 1% increase, that is a long way off the actual cost pressures they are facing.

Notably, even obedient hospital bosses have, of late, made some concession toward the idea that the cuts they are being forced to impose may mean a reduction in service.  But not the Health Minister.  Not yet, anyway.

By the way, here is the Health Coalition's tart reply on the issue of, alleged, improvements in home and community care offsetting the cuts to hospitals:

“Under the required deficit-elimination plans, hospital beds are being closed down in significant numbers. Hospital services are being cut. Plans for unprecedented privatization of surgeries, diagnostics and therapies are being revealed. Despite the rhetoric of the health minister and our new premier (Kathleen Wynne), these services are not being replaced in non-profit community and home care. They are being cut and privatized.”

Quite right.  

Health Minister Deb Matthews. Photo: London Public Library

Popular posts from this blog

Deficit? Public spending ain't the cause. Revenue, however...

With the election over, pressure to cut public programs has become quite intense. In almost all of the corporate owned media someone is barking on about it.

Another option -- increasing revenue from corporations and the wealthy is not mentioned.  However, data clearly indicates that Ontario does not have an overspending problem compared to the other provinces.

Instead, it indicates Ontario has very low revenue. 
Ontario has the lowest public spending of all the provinces on a per capita basis (see the chart from the 2014 Ontario Budget below).  So there is little reason to suspect that we have an over-spending problem.  If anything, this suggests we have an under-spending problem.

The Ontario government has also now reported in the 2014 Budget that Ontario has the lowest revenue per capita of any province.  This is particularly notable as other provinces are quite a bit poorer than Ontario and therefore have a much more limited ability to pay for public spending.  (Also notable in this…

Six more problems with Public Private Partnerships (P3s)

The Auditor General (AG) has again identified issues in her annual reportwhich reflect problems with Ontario health care capacity and privatization.   First, here are six key problems with the maintenance of the 16 privatized P3 ("public private partnership") hospitals in Ontario:
There are long-term ongoing disputes with privatized P3 contractors over the P3 agreements, including about what is covered by the P3  (or “AFP” as the government likes to call them) contract.The hospitals are required to pay higher than reasonable rates tothe P3 contractor for  maintenance work the contractor has deemed to be outside of the P3 contract. Hospitals are almost forced to use P3 contractors to do maintenance work the contractors deem outside of the P3 contract or face the prospect of transferring the risk associated with maintaining the related hospital assets from the private-sector company back to the hospitalP3 companies with poor perf…

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 …