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Wise Law Blog: Legal Aid Funding to Increase Provincially

Provincial Legal Aid will be provided with $30 million per year from the Justice Department. This, coming after 13 years of federal contributions remaining stagnant at $112 million per year. “All Canadians — no matter their means — should ha… . . . → Read More: Wise Law Blog: Legal Aid Funding to Increase Provincially

Defend Public Healthcare: Health care funding falls far short even as Ontario heads out of deficit


A new report from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) confirms the difficulties government cuts are placing on public health care in Ontario.  

The FAO is a government-funded but somewhat independent office that reviews Ontario government economic and fiscal claims. This is not a left wing think tank — rather it is very much part of the received establishment.  

Its latest report notes that government spending plans will fall $4 billion short of what is required to maintain services at 2015/16 levels by 2018/19: 

“If the quality and nature of public services remain unchanged over the outlook, the FAO estimates that program spending would need to increase by 2.7 per cent per year on average from 2014-15 to 2018-19. However, the 2016 Budget limits annual program spending growth to just 1.9 per cent on average, 0.8 percentage points lower than the growth in the underlying cost factors that drive public sector spending.”

Moreover:

 
“The government’s plans to restrain spending are occurring across most program areas, notably in the health, education and justice sectors, where planned spending growth is about half the rate of growth in underlying spending pressures.  The FAO estimates that by 2018-19, there would be about $4.0 billion in spending pressures to maintain the quality and nature of public services provided in 2015, assuming no further action by the government.” (My emphasis-DA)

The biggest funding gap is in health care. 

Health care is facing 5.2% cost pressures the FAO notes: 2.2% due to population growth and aging and 3% due to growing wealth and inflation.  

“Assuming that the quality and type of health care services provided in 2015 remains the same over the outlook, the FAO estimates that population growth and aging would contribute 2.2 percentage points per year on average to the growth in health spending. A stronger economy, which leads to higher incomes and price inflation would contribute a further 3.0 percentage points. Combined, these factors would lead to 5.2 per cent annual growth in health spending.”

 
The FAO notes the government plans health care funding increases of 1.8% over the next four years.   

Accordingly it concludes:“Given these factors, it is unclear how the government will achieve its target of 1.8 per cent annual spending increases (for health) over the next four years.” (My emphasis.-DA)


As can be seen in the chart above, the projected health spending is a major cut compared with the past:

…”Provincial health spending grew by 7.2 per cent on average annually from 2005-06 to 2009-10. Following the financial crisis, the Province limited health spending growth to 3.1 per cent per year from 2009-10 to 2014-15 period. According to the 2016 Budget, the government plans to further limit health spending growth to just 1.8 per cent per year from 2014-15 to 2018-19, below the already restrained pace of growth of the past five years.”

While in the past, our health care system was getting “enrichments” — it is now getting significant “efficiencies”. 

Ontario’s Economic and Fiscal Situation: The news from the FAO is a little better than it has been in the past.

According to the FAO, the economy is improving, revenue is growing (albeit not quite so quickly as the government hopes), and spending pressures are building.  As a result, the government (absent new policies) will briefly achieve little or no deficit in 2017-18, but then return to deficit.  The key debt to GDP ratio however has stopped getting worse and is beginning to modestly improve.  

Economic Growth: 

“The FAO is forecasting solid growth for the Ontario economy, with real GDP rising by 2.5 per cent in both 2016 and 2017, in-line with the current average outlook of private sector economists. Beyond 2017, Ontario’s economic growth will moderate slightly, averaging 2.2 per cent per year. However, there are significant risks for both the global and Canadian economies that could lead to weaker economic growth for Ontario.”

The real growth forecast by the FAO for 2016 and 2017 is a little higher than the 2016 Budget forecast. Growth of 2.5% in 2016 and 2017 would be an increase from 2.1% average growth over 2011-2015.  This level of growth is also better than the level FAO predicts for Canada as a whole (1.7% in 2016 and 2.4% in 2017).

Government Revenue: Revenue growth for 2016 -2019 is predicted to be a little more modest than the Ontario 2016 Budget forecast, falling in total0.8% behind over 4 years, with the bulk of that in 2017.   Taxation revenue will be stronger than it has been as with better nominal economic growth, and revenue from the federal government is expected to grow at 4%, much as predicted in the Budget.  The FAO also puts revenue growth from governmental enterprises and other non-tax revenue at a similar level as forecast in the provincial Budget.

Coming out of deficit:  Notably, the FAO deficit forecast for this year is $300 million less than in the 2016 budget. Moreover, the province is in a position to balance the budget in 2017-18.    

Based on the revenue and spending outlooks, the FAO forecasts budget deficits of $5.7 billion in 2015-16, $4.0 billion in 2016-17, and $580 million in 2017-18, somewhat larger than the 2016 Ontario Budget projections.  However, given the flexibility built into the government’s fiscal projections, the Province is in a position to achieve its commitment of balancing the budget in 2017-18.

This breaks with the many who have claimed that Ontario would definitely not balance the budget in 2017-18.   Moody’s had downgraded Ontario’s long term debt and had expressed skepticism last year that the government would balance the budget in 2017/18 as planned.  They now have upgraded Ontario, noting that the return to a balanced budget is on the horizon.

Growing spending pressures: The FAO sees growing spending in the longer term, as spending pressures rise from population growth, population aging and  higher costs of services:

For program spending, the FAO outlook adopts the 2016 budget projection, which assumes average annual spending growth of 1.9 per cent over the 2014-15 to 2018-19 period. Beyond the budget outlook, the FAO projects program spending to increase by 3.4 per cent in 2019-20 and 2020-21, reflecting rising spending pressures from underlying demographics and higher costs of services.

Going back into deficit:  In the longer term, with increased spending pressures, the FAO believe deficits will re-appear (absent new policies):

Beyond 2017-18, as revenue growth remains moderate, but spending pressures build, the FAO projects a gradual deterioration in the Province’s budget balance, with a deficit of $1.7 billion by 2020-21.

Debt: Accordingly, the FAO suggests that the debt will continue to increase but the (arguably more important) debt to GDP ratio has already begun to “modestly” decline,  with a prediction that it will move from 39.6% in 2015-16 to 38.4% in 2020-21.

Finally, the FAO also notes that there are risks to the government’s austerity plan to keep spending below demographic and cost pressures:

There are a number of significant risks for the Province’s fiscal outlook. From 2014-15 to 2018-19, the government plans to restrain spending growth to well below the growth of underlying demographic and cost pressures. It is unclear to what extent the government will achieve this level of spending restraint or what the implications are for public services.

The take-away? For what it is worth, this representative of mainstream opinion believes we are more or less on track for a balanced budget in 2017/18, that government funding for public programs is falling behind real cost pressures, that health care is being hit hardest of all, that it is unclear how government can achieve such low level funding increases for health care, that funding for public programs and especially health care will have to increase in the medium term, and that, absent new policies, we will go back into modest deficit after 2017/18.

. . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Health care funding falls far short even as Ontario heads out of deficit

Defend Public Healthcare: Ontario loses 19,000 public sector workers while rest of Canada gains 73,000

There has been a general trend downwards in public sector employment in Ontario according to Statistics Canada. In the last two years, Ontario has lost 19,000 public sector workers, with most of the loss occurring in the last year.The downwards trend i… . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Ontario loses 19,000 public sector workers while rest of Canada gains 73,000

Defend Public Healthcare: Health Care and the Budget: Not Much

Health care and hospital funding: Despite significant new revenue and lower than expected debt costs, health care spending is almost exactly identical to the amounts planned in last year’s Budget for 2015-2018. The total health budget for 2015/1… . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Health Care and the Budget: Not Much

Defend Public Healthcare: Health care declining as share of economy and program spending

Federal Health Cash Transfers to the Ontario government will rise 5.94% in 2016/17, or by $778 million. This, in itself should amount to a 1.5% increase in Ontario even without a single extra penny from Ontario tax revenues.  This will follow… . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Health care declining as share of economy and program spending

Things Are Good: A Space Race Approach to Fighting Climate Change

Here’s a neat idea: save the planet using the research and development practices used during the space race. The state-lead push for advanced science led to really fun things like cellphones and laser eye surgery. Imagine what we as a species could create if we had the same push into sustainability like we did during […]

The post A Space Race Approach to Fighting Climate Change appeared first on Things Are Good.

. . . → Read More: Things Are Good: A Space Race Approach to Fighting Climate Change

Defending Public Healthcare: How Ontario public sector health care funding lags behind

The Ontario public sector spends less than almost all other provinces on health care.  And it’s falling further behind.  Over the most recent four years per capita spending increased 9.7% across Canada, but only 5.2% in Ontario.  With this, the Ontario public sector spends less per person than any other province except Quebec. Ontario public sector . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: How Ontario public sector health care funding lags behind

Carbon49 - Sustainability for Canadian businesses: Creative Funding for Green Startups

You are an entrepreneur with a fantastic idea for a green startup. You go to the bank for funding but they turn you down. What do you do? Fear not, green warriors! We will show you five non-traditional funding sources for social and environmental startups, including crowd funding and peer-to-peer lending, and go through . . . → Read More: Carbon49 – Sustainability for Canadian businesses: Creative Funding for Green Startups

Defending Public Healthcare: US and Canadian public health care costs compared

Despite the lack of universal public insurance, U.S. governments actually spend much moreon health care than Canadian governments.   Public sector health expenditure in the U.S.A. accounts for 8.5% of the economy, 7.9% in Canada, and 6.8% through the OECD (the club of 34 rich nations – which, unlike the U.S.A., primarily finance health care . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: US and Canadian public health care costs compared

Defending Public Healthcare: Premiers focus on cuts and ignore falling federal health care funding

As feared yesterday— the premiers have rolled.  They didn’t even dare to beg for better federal health care funding in their  media release on health care from their meeting (“The Council of the Federation”) concluding in Niagara-on-the-Lake today.

Indeed, their media release did not even use the word “federal” once.  Federal health care . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Premiers focus on cuts and ignore falling federal health care funding

Defending Public Healthcare: Will premiers fight for federal health care funding?

At this week’s meeting of the provincial premiers there were some sharp complaints about the federal government.

But missing — so far — is any significant complaint about the one issue likely closest to the hearts of Canadians — public health care.    Yet the federal government plans to kill its longstanding commitment to . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Will premiers fight for federal health care funding?

Defending Public Healthcare: Are hospitals primarily providers of acute care?

Hospitals are often stereotyped as providers of acute care services.  In fact, acute care accounts for a relatively small portion of total hospital services. As noted a few days ago,  costs per acute care patient (or, more exactly, per “weighted case”)  in Ontario are significantly below the national average, coming in at $5,174 . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Are hospitals primarily providers of acute care?

The Canadian Progressive: Harper Conservatives failing BC’s First Nations children: PBO report

Reported by: Obert Madondo | Twitter: @Obiemad:

First Nations demand a better deal from the Canadian Government during a massive December 2012 protest on Parliament Hill. (Photo: Obert Madondo)

A report released by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) on Thursday says the Harper Conservatives are failing BC’s First Nation children and on-reserve schools.

The . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Harper Conservatives failing BC’s First Nations children: PBO report

The Canadian Progressive: CUPE: B.C. school support staff layoffs “devastating”

By: CUPE | Press Release

NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – Education workers and students are paying the price for ballooning deficits in Coquitlam and New Westminster. The districts have announced layoffs of CUPE support staff that the union says will severely affect the quality and even safety of education and services.

A $12.6-million deficient in Coquitlam . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: CUPE: B.C. school support staff layoffs “devastating”

Defending Public Healthcare: Doctors get lion’s share of Budget funding

Forget all the government Budget rhetoric about better home care.  The real winners are the docs. The Ontario Budget Estimates are out and  the line item primarily covering the doctors (“Ontario Health Insurance”) is going up 2.9 per cent to $13.3 billion.  The rest of the health care sector got an increase of . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Doctors get lion’s share of Budget funding

The Canadian Progressive: Tories spend on Keystone XL ads, while cutting environment funding

Canadians should be outraged that the Harper Conservatives are spending millions of taxpayers money lobbying for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. while cutting environmental funding.

The post Tories spend on Keystone XL ads, while cutting environment funding appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Defending Public Healthcare: Government: "collective bargaining is achieving results & protecting services"

Yesterday I noted that the Liberal Budget plainly states that they are planning many more years of austerity.  So how does it see collective bargaining with public employees? And, moreover, public sector pensions?   Collective Bargaining: The government claims that provincial public sector agreements are much lower than other sectors –i.e. private sector settlements, . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Government: "collective bargaining is achieving results & protecting services"

Defending Public Healthcare: Health care spending continues decline

Contrary to the hysteria from conservatives, health care spending continues to decline as a percentage of the provincial budget.   Last year, health care accounted for 38.5% of total expenditures, this year the government plans to bring it down to 38.3%.  This continues the trend downwards since 2003/4 when health care accounted for 40% of . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Health care spending continues decline

The Canadian Progressive: The Humanitarian Coalition Launches Joint Appeal for Syrian Refugees

By: Humanitarian Coalition | Press Release: OTTAWA, May 14, 2013 – Today, the Humanitarian Coalition and its member agencies are launching a national joint appeal to raise funds to assist the 6.8 million Syrian civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in their country. Almost five million civilians have been forced to leave their […]

The . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: The Humanitarian Coalition Launches Joint Appeal for Syrian Refugees

The Canadian Progressive: NDP demands action on missing $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: Last week, the Auditor General reported that the Harper Conservatives can’t account for $3.1 billion of the $12.9 billion allocated to the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative [PSAT] for the period 2001 to 2010. The New Democrats are demanding action and accountability. Via a motion that was scheduled . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: NDP demands action on missing $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding

Defending Public Healthcare: Ontario Finance Minister plans cuts in public services

The Ontario government just lopped another $2.1 billion off their 2012-13 deficit estimate, cutting it from $11.9 billion (as of January) to $9.8 billion. This means that since 2010 when they started their public sector austerity drive, they have now cut their deficit estimates by $18.1 billion.

Deficit (in billions of dollars) 2009–10 2010–11 . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Ontario Finance Minister plans cuts in public services

OPSEU Diablogue: A tangible response to physiotherapy cuts – the province finally adds community capacity

After significantly cutting outpatient physiotherapy at hospitals across Ontario, the government is finally putting something back. The Ministry of Health says it is making a major investment in community-based physiotherapy, exercise classes and falls prevention services that will benefit up … Continue reading →

The Canadian Progressive: Harper cut to Health Council of Canada could signal end of national health care

By: Canadian Health Coalition | Press Release: OTTAWA, April 17, 2013 – The Canadian Health Coalition issued an urgent alert to Canadians in light of today’s news that the Harper Government is terminating its funding of the Health Council of Canada. “This announcement signals Harper’s intention to withdraw essential federal leadership from […]

The post . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Harper cut to Health Council of Canada could signal end of national health care

Defending Public Healthcare: Hospital costs lower in Ontario

The “cost per weighted case” in Ontario hospitals in 2010-11 was $5,143, according to a new report from CIHI.   (This indicator measures the relative cost-efficiency of a hospital’s ability to provide acute inpatient care.)  The Ontario cost per weighted case compares with a Canada-wide average of $5,230.96.

In other words, the Canada-wide average is . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Hospital costs lower in Ontario

Defending Public Healthcare: Homecare funding falls short – of even aging cost pressures?

The Ontario government likes to suggest that the planned annual 4% nominal increase in “home and community care” funding will offset their cuts to hospital services and squeeze on long term care beds.

But it’s not totally clear that this funding will offset cost pressures on home and community care arising from the . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Homecare funding falls short – of even aging cost pressures?