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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 spending equaled $3,952 per person in 2013, but the all-Canada average was 6.3% (or $248) higher, at $4,200 per person, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Heading for the bottom: Quebec, (Read more…)

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Illuminated By Street Lamps: Ontario: A leading jurisdiction for intense, coercive neoliberalism

By Joe Fantauzzi@jjfantauzzi Global capitalism has liberalized incrementally since the end of the Second World War. As the Keynesian welfare state fell out of favour in the late 1970s amid a stagnating economy and rising government spending, a new business-friendly approach dubbed neoliberalism (literally, “new liberalism”), emerged and ushered in an epoch of devotion to market principles as the solution to what ails Ontario both economically and socially. The implementation of the Canada-US Trade Agreement in 1987[1], North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994[2]and the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995[3] were (Read more…)

Defending Public Healthcare: Provincial public sector wage increases less than private sector for fourth year

For the fourth consecutive year in a row, wage settlements in the broader provincial public sector (i.e. public sector workers, like hospital employees, who do not work for federal or municipal governments) fell below the wage settlements in the private sector.  In 2013, provincial public sector wage settlements averaged about 0.3% annually compared to a private sector settlement average of 2.3% according to Ministry of Labour data.  That is a whopping 2 percent gap.  In 2010 the gap was small, as provincial public sector settlements came in at just under 2% and private sector (Read more…)

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Illuminated By Street Lamps: The Toronto G20 Summit: A State of Exception

By Joe Fantauzzi@jjfantauzziBetween June 26 and 27, 2010, thousands of demonstrators[1] descended on Toronto, Ontario to protest while the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies[2] met behind a protective fence built of steel and secretive legislative authority. When the tear gas cleared and the G20 Summit ended, 1,105 people had been detained. It has been described as “the largest peacetime mass arrest in Canadian history.”[3] Of those arrested, 779 — 80% — were released without any charges (as of June 2012).[4] Following Giorgio Agamben, I contend that the Province of Ontario employed (Read more…)

Illuminated By Street Lamps: Locating Canada’s State Multiculturalism As A Racist Doctrine

By Joe Fantauzzi@jjfantauzziCanada is a multicultural nation. More than four decades of policy, legislation and celebration have engraved this country’s pluralism into its national character. The ethnic diversity of this country is presented globally as a fundamental strength of the Canadian nation. But massive structural inequalities which have not been erased with state multiculturalism policies remain ─ and have, in some cases, been exacerbated. I contend that nationalism in Canada is highly predicated on race and a structural racism that is intrinsically linked to Canada’s brand of state-sponsored multiculturalism. Following Himani Bannerji, I argue this race-focused nationalism works (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Disappointment with the Ontario Liberal Party lack of social media communication

The OLP has a convention next week, if you weren’t aware. It’s their annual general meeting – the one that was originally going to be held in London, but got moved to Toronto due to speculated Spring Election concerns.

Several bloggers (myself included) of the Liberal persuasion (Ontario or Federal) have been inquiring for awhile since last year before Christmas to some of our contacts within the OLP hierarchy about the possibility of being present at this to live-blog or live-tweet it or social media it in general.. you get the idea – as we did for the OLP’s leadership (Read more…)

Illuminated By Street Lamps: No Federal Childcare Program: An Exercise In Strengthening Hegemony

            Canada, a nation among the wealthiest in the world, cannot meet its daycare needs. The problem has grown to crisis proportions in the country’s largest cities. In Toronto there are only enough daycare spaces for about one in five of the city’s children.[1] In downtown Vancouver, 2,000 children are on a childcare waiting list.[2] There is no federal universal childcare scheme in Canada. Some provinces and municipalities offer subsidized childcare but these programs are at constant risk of having funding withdrawn. As well, the lack of federal standardization results in wide disparities of (Read more…)

Defending Public Healthcare: Harper health care cuts: $8.2 billion less for Ontario

The Ontario Fall Economic Outlook indicates that 59% of the Ontario  health care funding increase this year comes from the annual increase in funding from the federal government via the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).  The federal transfer increase accounts for $752 million out of a total provincial health care increase of $1.272 billion. (Another $181 million comes from the increase in the Employer Health Tax revenue, with not much coming from other Ontario based revenue sources, like income or corporate tax.)  The share of new funding paid for by new federal CHT funding is up from (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Harper health care cuts: $8.2 billion less for Ontario

Defending Public Healthcare: Ontario has highest private health care spending in Canada

Ontario has the highest private sector health care expenditure in the country, according to data in a recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Total public sector expenditure in Ontario in 2013 is forecasted at only 67.7% of total health care expenditure, significantly below the Canada-wide average of  70.1%.    Public sector expenditures would need to increase 6.3% in Ontario just to meet the Canadian average — $248 per person.  So it is perhaps not so surprising that private health expenditures are 5.3% higher in Ontario than Canada as a whole ($1,883 (Read more…)

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Defending Public Healthcare: Physician numbers up 18% in four years

There has been a sharp increase in the number of physicians in Ontario and an even sharper increase in payments to physicians. Between 2008 and 2012 the number of physicians in Ontario has increased 18.5%.  This growth is offset by population growth only very modestly: the number of physicians per 100,000 population has increased 13.5% over the same period.

Ontario Supply 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012  Increase Total Number of Physicians 23,043 24,515 25,044 26,163 27,300 18.5% Family Medicine 11,106 11,817 12,170 12,815 13,513 21.7% Specialists 11,937 12,698 12,874 13,348 13,787 15.5% Physicians per 100,000 (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Physician numbers up 18% in four years

Illuminated By Street Lamps: Liberty: Revealing J.S. Mill As A Visionary And J.J Rousseau As A Totalitarian

By Joe Fantauzzi @jjfantauzzi

At the core of many modern democracies is the concept of freedom. Variations of the word “free” appear 27 times in the text of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[1] “Liberty” appears in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States.[2] But the nature of freedom, liberty or whatever else a society chooses to call the ability to pursue those things that makes us better or happier as a species, is amorphous. Here, it is discussed in two schools: that of negative freedom, more expressly defined as liberty from interference, and that of (Read more…)

Defending Public Healthcare: Physiotherapy: One more privatization scandal?

Lurking only slightly below the surface in the recent fight over changes to funding for physiotherapy is yet another problem with health care privatization.

The government is stopping the ability of 94 physiotherapy clinics to directly bill OHIP. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews says that, over the years, licences to provide these services have been bought up by large corporations. Currently, two-thirds of the billing goes to four companies that are, she says, “behind the protests” against her reforms.

Moreover, she charges that the “existing 94 clinics have had an unlimited ability to bill the government and have become (Read more…)

Defending Public Healthcare: With 34,000 jobs destroyed, Ontario focuses on Jobs and Growth

With the release of the 2013-14 first quarter finances report, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has announced the start of his own consultations on the economy.

The focus (allegedly) is on “jobs and growth” .

The formal pre-budget consultations with a committee of the legislature usually start in the late fall or winter. So Sousa’s consultations (which have already begun) are getting the jump. If words mean much, the emphasis is quite different than under Dwight Duncan.

Sousa’s release headlines “The Path to Jobs and Growth”.

Duncan’s release of last year’s first quarter finances sounded more like his imitation of the (Read more…)

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Illuminated By Street Lamps: In Brampton, Few Recorded Development Votes After Developers Contribute To Political War Chests

By Joe Fantauzzi@jjfantauzzi Key Findings: 

– The development industry is clearly engaged in the political process at Brampton City Hall.

– 233 development companies and development-affiliated individuals were publicly disclosed to have contributed money to Brampton candidates in the 2010 municipal election.

– Of those 233 developer donors, 48 were discovered to have proposals in various stages in front of Brampton City Hall between December 12, 2010 and May 22, 2013, according to city council minutes.

– The interests of 20.6 per cent ─ or about one in five ─ of the companies and individuals (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Illuminated By Street Lamps: In Brampton, Few Recorded Development Votes After Developers Contribute To Political War Chests

Defending Public Healthcare: Ontario: 6.1 fewer hours of care per hospital patient

The real costs for the average hospital acute care patient are declining.  As noted yesterday this is true for both Ontario and Canada, based on data just released from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.    But the CIHI data also revealed other interesting trends, likely related.   Administrative Costs Decline: Administrative costs continue their long decline in Ontario hospitals, falling again from 6.21% of total expenses in 2009-10 to 6.15% in 2010-11 and then down to 5.91% in 2011-12.   With a total hospital spend in the range of $21 billion in Ontario, this (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Ontario: 6.1 fewer hours of care per hospital patient

Defending Public Healthcare: Costs of hospital treatment falling

Ontario has the lowest hospital cost per weighted case of all the provinces.  And the cost difference between Ontario and the rest of the country is growing.

Hospital Cost Per Weighted Case ($)

2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 Newfoundland 6,001 6,283 6,332 PEI DQ DQ 5,257 Nova Scotia 4,998 5,403 5,384 New Brunswick 5,104 5,380 5,390 Quebec 4,455 4,550 4,728 Ontario 5,164 5,174 5,184 Manitoba 5,403 5,438 5,396 Saskatchewan 5,722 5,883 6,174 Alberta 6,139 6,399 6,631 BC 5,456 5,571 5,232 North West Territories N/R N/R N/R Yukon DQ 7,709 7,394 Weighted Average 5,172 5,281 5,335

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI (Read more…)

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Defending Public Healthcare: Non-ambulance corporations to take over more EMS work?

The Minister of Health and LTC has strongly endorsed the restructuring of patient transfer industry in the South West LHIN.  This may set a new model for the private corporations that often move patients between health care facilities in vehicles that look, for all the world, like ambulances — but are not.   For the first time, a LHIN-wide patient transfer provider has been chosen, with the goal of standardizing equipment and staffing qualifications. Health Minister Deb Matthews states:

“This non-emergency transportation approach is precisely the type of collaborative effort that will help transform the health care system in Ontario. (Read more…)

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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 1.06%, just over one-third as much.

In dollar terms, the Ontario Health Insurance line item got an increase of $374 million.  The total incrase for all of health care is only $744 million, so this will eat up more than half of that (Read more…)

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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, municipal settlements, and federal public sector settlements: Indeed, the government headlines the claim “Bargaining Is Achieving Results and Protecting Services”. The government does not say it will try to dictate results in collective bargaining (as the previous McGuinty/Duncan government tried to do), but proposes (Read more…) . . . → 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 total expenditures. Austerity Redux The provincial Budget reports that program spending is going up an impressive sounding 2.99% and health care spending is going up 2.3%.  Although that sounds like a larger than expected increase in these days of austerity, (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Health care spending continues decline

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 2011–12 2012–13 Total 2010 Budget 21.3 19.7 17.3 15.9 74.2 2013 April 19.3 14 13 9.8 56.1 Reduction in Deficit (billions) 2 5.7 4.3 6.1 18.1

Since the 2012 Budget, (Read more…) government has repeatedly cuts its deficit forecast for 2012-13.  It started this year estimating a $15.2 billion deficit (just slightly lower than it estimated in 2010, as noted above). It now puts the deficit at a whopping $5.4 billion less.

That is one mighty big error over the course of just one year.

To put it in perspective, the government only hoped to . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Ontario Finance Minister plans cuts in public services

Defending Public Healthcare: Public sector wages lag private sector

Conservatives often suggest that public sector settlements are out of whack with private sector settlements.

In fact, the evidence from Ontario over the last couple of decades proves the opposite. Public sector settlements have fallen behind private sector settlements.  Here is the data from the Ontario Ministry of Labour:

Percent increase Annual average  increase Public Sector Settlements Annual average increase Private Sector Settlements 1990 6.8% 6.3% 1991 5 4.6 1992 2.6 2.7 1993 0.5 1.9 1994 0.1 1.1 1995 0.2 1.7 1996 0.3 2.2 1997 0.7 . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Public sector wages lag private sector

Defending Public Healthcare: Public sector wages lag private sector

Conservatives often suggest that public sector settlements are out of whack with private sector settlements.

In fact, the evidence from Ontario over the last couple of decades proves the opposite. Public sector settlements have fallen behind private sector settlements.  Here is the data from the Ontario Ministry of Labour:

Percent increase Annual average  increase Public Sector Settlements Annual average increase Private Sector Settlements 1990 6.8% 6.3% 1991 5 4.6 1992 2.6 2.7 1993 0.5 1.9 1994 0.1 1.1 1995 0.2 1.7 1996 0.3 2.2 1997 0.7 (Read more…) . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Public sector wages lag private sector

Defending Public Healthcare: Chemo fiasco – - the real perils of secrecy

Martin Regg Cohn, Queen’s Park columnist for the Toronto Star,  expressed his outrage at some length today over the College of Pharmacists not answering media questions quickly enough about the diluted chemotherapy drug scandal.   

But he says nothing of the response from the private corporation that actually mixed the chemotherapy drugs That company has — according to the Star’s sister paper, the Spectator — repeatedly refused interview requests and refers questions to the Ministry of Health and LTC.  Early on, it reportedly threatened legal action if its name was mentioned and suggested the problem lay elsewhere.  As one CEO

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Defending Public Healthcare: Too many public sector workers in Ontario?

Opponents of public services often try to portray the public sector as having grown disproportionately.  In fact, since 1976, the size of the number of public sector employees has not kept pace with the population.

In 1976, the number of public sector employees in Ontario as reported by Statistics Canada averaged 830,800.  By 2012, the number had increased to 1,330,700 — a 60.2% increase.  That sounds like significant growth — true.

But the population has increased  from 8,264,000 in 1976 to 13,505,500 in 2012, a 63.4% increase.   If public sector employment had increased at the same rate . . . → Read More: Defending Public Healthcare: Too many public sector workers in Ontario?