People in Ontario are seriously worried after Doug Ford's latest announcement
It's rare these days that a Doug Ford healthcare announcement goes over well with most Ontario residents, but the premier may have truly outdone himself Monday morning (in terms of making the masses mad) with a new plan to "fix" the problems faced by overcrowded, under-staffed, and increasingly ineffective hospitals across the province.
"The Ontario government is making it easier and faster for people to access the publicly-funded surgeries and procedures they need by further leveraging community surgical and diagnostic centres to eliminate surgical backlogs and reduce wait times," reads a news release issued by the provincial government after Ford's press conference with Health Minister Sylvia Jones on Monday.
"As the government significantly expands the number of surgeries being done through community surgical and diagnostic centres, it will do so with measures in place to protect the stability of health human resources at public hospitals..."
Translation: Ontario is expanding the scope of medical procedures that can be performed at privately-run clinics, as opposed to exclusively within hospitals.
The goal is to help cut through a backlog of roughly 206,000 people who are currently waiting in Ontario for "hospital operating room-based surgical procedures," including some ophthalmic, gynecological and plastic surgeries.
"Community" surgical clinics, as they're being called, aren't new; Some 26,000 OHIP-insured surgeries and procedures are carried out within centres licensed under the Independent Health Facilities Act every year, according to the Ford's government.
What Ford wants to do is expand the procedures, both in nature and quantity, that can be performed outside hospitals in private facilities — facilities owned by people who stand to make a pretty penny under such a model.
This approach to diverting less serious surgeries from hospitals makes sense BUT it should be done within our public healthcare system. There is only one reason for going private and its to put more tax dollars into corporations hands. Im sure Galen Weston is very happy pic.twitter.com/l7FQNAqr2W— Melanie Esteves (@MelFirecracker) January 16, 2023
In Monday's release, Ontario revealed that it would be investing more than $18 million into existing community surgical and diagnostic centres "to cover care for thousands of patients, including more than 49,000 hours of MRI and CT scans."
The province also noted that it was spending $300 million as part of its surgical recovery strategy, which "prioritizes patients waiting longer than recommended in clinical guidelines" and offers "premiums to hospitals to support completion of over 200,000 surgeries and procedures."
You can read the full rundown of Ontario's three-step plan to shorten surgical backlogs here, but Ford made sure to answer one question straight off the bat, before he could be accused otherwise:
"When it comes to your health, the status quo is no longer acceptable," said the premier on Monday. "Our government is taking bold action to reduce wait times for surgeries, all while ensuring Ontarians use their OHIP card to get the care they need, never their credit card."
May God bless you all with good health my friends because you won't be public provided care- Doug Ford— kris meloche (@krismeloche) January 16, 2023
As much as they hope that Ford stays true to his word, many Ontarians seem to be worried that he won't, given a recent track record that includes reversing course on promises to protect the Greenbelt, among other things.
Doug Ford says that Ontarians will only ever need their OHIP card to get the health care they need— John Fraser (@JohnFraserOS) January 16, 2023
Right now families are having to use their credit card to access basic services
How can we trust @fordnation not to give away our health care, just like he did with the greenbelt? pic.twitter.com/Ah4kFPDXRC
Some fear that the move puts Ontario's healthcare system under further threat of full privatization, as they did after pharmacists were granted the ability to treat certain ailments and prescribe some medications previously available only from doctors.
I do not consent to the privatization of Ontario healthcare.— Willy Henschel (@WillyHenschel) January 16, 2023
I do not want for-profit clinics taking staff away from publicly funded healthcare.
I do not want patients suffering so that Doug’s friends can get rich(er).
This is not okay.
"This was Doug Ford's plan all along. He has spent years starving our health care system of resources, demoralizing health care workers with his wage-capping Bill 124 and leaving Ontarians desperate for care and frustrated by his games," said Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles and NDP Health critic France Gélinas in response to Ford's announcement on Monday.
"We want to be clear – he will not get away with this. People will end up paying out of pocket and face longer wait times in our hospitals, as his plan drives healthcare workers from our public system. At every turn, he proves that he doesn’t care about ordinary Ontarians – just making profits for his donors and friends."
Today Doug Ford announced a radical plan to privatize health care— Tom Parkin (@TomPark1n) January 16, 2023
Don’t know if his motivation is ideological or to ingratiate himself with those with those will profit, but he didn’t provide any data or independent report backing his decision
Others are concerned that public hospitals may lose even more nurses and doctors to private clinics that can pay better money for the same work.
We already know. We saw for-profit agencies added to the nursing shortage by luring staff away from public institutions during the pandemic. That's exactly what'll happen with for-profit private clinics, and @fordnation knows it, he's purposely knee-capping public hospitals. https://t.co/xLTeplVgO4— Asif Hossain (@asifintoronto) January 16, 2023
Others smell corruption, whether it exists or not.
All of whom bought their hospitals two weeks before the announcement today.— Sean Hawkins (@yourpalhawkboy) January 16, 2023
While many questions remain concerning the financial and commercial elements of Ford's latest healthcare program, the province was sure to mention when announcing its three-step plan this morning that safeguards will be in place to protect human resources at hospitals.
New facilities will be required to "provide detailed staffing plans as part of their application," according to the release, and each centre must have "a number of physicians" with active privileges at their local hospitals.
Much remains to be seen in terms of how this will all pan out, but many everyday Ontarians (those who aren't wealthy) will go to sleep this evening worried that they may no longer have access to vital healthcare services one day.
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