Thursday, August 25, 2022

Ontario healthcare - crisis, what crisis?

Pretty much everyone agrees that Ontario's healthcare system is officially "in crisis:". The phrase is used by everyone from nurses to healthcare officials to opposition politicians to the press. The only people who don't use that word are government spokespeople, and most specifically Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones, the very people who most need to admit it.

Sylvia Jones in particular has been very forthright about her view that Ontario's healthcare situation is not in crisis: "There is not a crumbling system in Ontario"; "We have a very strong healthcare system"; and, most badly, "To suggest it is in crisis is completely inappropriate". Inappropriate, or inconvenient? Everyone else is calling it a crisis. What would it take for Ms. Jones to consider it a crisis, I wonder? For her, the current situation is not even "unprecedented" ("No, I'm sorry, it is not").

Well, you might say, this is all semantics. But until you admit there is a problem, solutions are not going to follow. The government has implicitly suggested that private care might be the way forward - "All options are on the table" - which has set the cat among the pigeons in a province and a country that prides itself on our publicly-funded universal healthcare (although arguably we already have at least an element of private healthcare in our system).

The one thing the Conservative government does not seem willing to do is to put serious amounts of new money into healthcare, despite the fact that Ontario has consistently been the lowest healthcare spender in the country for years. In fact, they are going out of their way to avoid increasing real spending (consider the iniquitous Bill 124, which caps nurses' pay increases at 1% a year, which, given the level of inflation we are now experiencing, is not exactly going to help our non-crisis).

And the government wonders why Ontario's nurses are leaving the profession in droves, and why well over a million citizens in the province cannot find a family doctor?

Crisis, what crisis?

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