"We are disappointed that the Chamber came out with this report which is neither in the interests of Ontarians nor in the interests of many of the Chamber’s members.” — Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC
Toronto (16 March 2016) — Ontario’s Chamber of Commerce (OCC) waded into health care reform today with a poorly-researched and argued report that would cause Ontarians harm if implemented according to the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC).
The OHC identifies a number of weaknesses in the OCC report, pointing out that it is largely a hodgepodge of anecdotes that are often inaccurate and contradictory.
"We are disappointed that the Chamber came out with this report which is neither in the interests of Ontarians nor in the interests of many of the Chamber’s members,” noted Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC. “Privatization is not an add-on to public health care, it is a takeaway. It drives up costs, deprives our local towns of needed services and results in user fees of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for patients when they are sick, elderly and least able to pay.”
Rhetoric of Crisis
The Chamber report repeatedly overstates expenditure data. For the record, health spending has been declining as a share of Ontario’s budget for years. According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, Ontario Budget health spending for 2016 is now at 38.7% — a far cry from the 50% figure repeatedly misreported in the Chamber’s report.
In a statement from the OHC, they note that "for years Ontarians and Canadians have been subjected to this rhetoric of crisis and unsustainability by private interests who are trying to win health reform so that they can take profit from the health care system. These tactics have never worked. Repeated polls show that Canadians strongly believe in the core values of equitable access to care based on need, not wealth."
Private for-profit health care at odds with Canadian values
The fact is that for-profit privatization is incompatible with the core principle shared by the vast majority of Canadians that equal access to health care should be based on need not wealth. We will not have any universal single-tier public health system if we allow for-profit privatization of medically needed hospital and physician services.
Already, patients experience the hardship of for-profit health care in home and long-term care.
Privatization not a solution
In fact, the evidence is irrefutable that for-profit privatization results in increased user fees for patients, greater inequality in access, hardship for patients, and higher costs for public insurers.
The Ontario Health Coalition has conducted repeated studies in which they have directly called every private clinic in our province and every private clinic across the country. It has found that the majority of private clinics charge OHIP and charge patients on top in extra user fees — for the same service. The fees charged in private clinics far exceed costs under the public health care system.
“There are so many improvements that the Chamber of Commerce can and should advocate, rather than privatization. Ontarians — and Ontario businesses — need an expansion of public health care to cover prescription drugs, thereby reducing the cost and expanding coverage to all Canadians,” said Ross Sutherland, MA, RN, chair of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We need improved planning, better management of overused prescription drugs and medical technologies, and integration of home care into a public non-profit system that gets funding to the front lines more efficiently, for example. We hope that the Chamber revisits their position prior to its upcoming series of reports and recommendations.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE