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Blunt Objects Blog: Trumpism in Canada, Part 1: Ontario

You might be shocked to hear this, but Donald J. Trump is not popular politically in Canada.

In fact, according to any poll he isn’t popular almost anywhere, including within the country he’ll now lead. Yet the man convincingly won an election through the Electoral College – the question is, of course, how?

The short . . . → Read More: Blunt Objects Blog: Trumpism in Canada, Part 1: Ontario

Mind Bending Politics: Ministry Responds To My Open Letter To Minister Coteau

 

As many of you may remember I wrote an open letter to the Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Micheal Coteau regarding some concerns I had with the transition process, and with my son’s situation. I was hoping for a direct response from Minister Coteau instead I received this (sorry for . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Ministry Responds To My Open Letter To Minister Coteau

Mind Bending Politics: Brace Yourselves, The New Ontario Autism Program is Coming

 

The Toronto Star recently sat down with the Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau to discuss changes being made to autism services in Ontario. A common theme is starting to emerge over the past few months since the announcement of the new Ontario Autism Program. The way the process . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Brace Yourselves, The New Ontario Autism Program is Coming

Mind Bending Politics: Why Is Premier Kathleen Wynne Misinforming Parents on The New Autism Program?

This question was asked by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown in question period twice today, only to be asked by the speaker of the legislature to withdrawal the questions.  Question I would like to pose; why is the speaker of the Ontario legislature shutting down completely legitimate questions to the government? This latest bought […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Why Is Premier Kathleen Wynne Misinforming Parents on The New Autism Program?

Mind Bending Politics: Are Ontario’s Service Providers Siphoning Money From Autistic Kids?

I’ve had several parents come up too me with their stories since last week’s post on my son’s situation. There seems to be a large number of fights and battles with regional service providers like Kinark across the province that manage services for kids with autism too get kids the services they need. It’s important […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Are Ontario’s Service Providers Siphoning Money From Autistic Kids?

Mind Bending Politics: Follow up with Ontario’s Ministry of Children And Youth Services on Autism Services

  I’ve received a follow up from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in Ontario regarding my son’s position after insisting on it regarding what we were told during the last conversation. What I received back looked like a canned response. So here it is in full. I’ll dissect the response. Dear Mr. Koblovsky: […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Follow up with Ontario’s Ministry of Children And Youth Services on Autism Services

Mind Bending Politics: Ministry Staffer Claims His Boss Mislead Public On Restoring Autism Funding in Ontario

  (Ontario’s Minister Of Child and Youth Services Michael Coteau (above) And Premier Kathleen Wynne called out on false statements regarding Autism funding by Ministry staffer) A few months ago, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced plans to “restore” autism funding for intensive therapy. On the Ministry’s own website and press releases […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Ministry Staffer Claims His Boss Mislead Public On Restoring Autism Funding in Ontario

Mind Bending Politics: China’s Economic Espionage Against Canada Refuses To Be Dealt With By Government

(China’s Artificially Created Housing Bubble In Canada Set To Burst Warnings Suggest) It’s been no surprise that Canada has long been in a housing bubble. Foreign investors from China have been buying up property in Canadian cities for years, and reselling them to Canadians for way more than the property is worth. China seems to […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: China’s Economic Espionage Against Canada Refuses To Be Dealt With By Government

Mind Bending Politics: Ontario’s New Autism Policy Not Going Over Well With Parents

(Ontario’s new autism policy lipstick on a pig, rather than implementing needed changes) With the Ontario Government announcing major funding initiatives over the past few months, it looks like autism services are not high on its priority list. Back in March, the Ontario government announced that it was going to do away with much needed […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Ontario’s New Autism Policy Not Going Over Well With Parents

Mind Bending Politics: Ontario To Axe CCAC In $50 Billion Health Care Overhaul

(Nothing to see here: Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins Announces The Closure of Community Care Access Centres) The horror stories continue for the people of Ontario. Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced today that the government will be closing all Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) in favor of cost cutting measures, and moving the home […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Ontario To Axe CCAC In $50 Billion Health Care Overhaul

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: Financial Accountability Office finds health care funding is falling short

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 governmen… . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Financial Accountability Office finds health care funding is falling short

Mind Bending Politics: Behaviour Experts Call Wynne’s Autism Policy Destructive

Toronto, April 20, 2016 – The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has declared that as of May 1, Ontario will no longer provide Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) to children of five years and older. A group of nine Board Certified Behavior Analysts™ (BCBAs), who are practitioners and advocates for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Behaviour Experts Call Wynne’s Autism Policy Destructive

Mind Bending Politics: Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals With Special Needs Weighs In On Ontario’s New Autism Policy

  The Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals With Special Needs (OASIS) has just weighed in on the new Ontario Autism Policy. In a media release David Barber, President at OASIS stated: This new policy, if implemented the way it stands, sets children and their families back Barber went on to stay: Early intervention is crucial for […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals With Special Needs Weighs In On Ontario’s New Autism Policy

Mind Bending Politics: Annoyed Ontario Liberals and Wynne’s Autism Echo Chamber:

This blog will be dedicated moving forward to following the conversations and policy discussions about Ontario’s new autism policy. The discussions going on right now are a national ethical and moral issue and those across Canada should be kept up to date as much as possible. On Tuesday there was a very emotional rally at our provincial legislature […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Annoyed Ontario Liberals and Wynne’s Autism Echo Chamber:

Defend Public Healthcare: Ontario to cut funding for hospital infrastructure in half. Austerity bites

The Ontario government recently put out a release bragging that they will fund $50 million per year to renew existing hospital facilities. However, in her September report the Auditor General reported that Ontario hospital funding is les… . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Ontario to cut funding for hospital infrastructure in half. Austerity bites

Defend Public Healthcare: Ontario to cut funding for hospital infrastructure in half. Austerity bites

The Ontario government recently put out a release bragging that they will fund $50 million per year to renew existing hospital facilities. However, in her September report the Auditor General reported that Ontario hospital funding is les… . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Ontario to cut funding for hospital infrastructure in half. Austerity bites

Mind Bending Politics: Experts Question Ontario’s New Autism Policy In Scathing Letter

(Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services Tracy MacCharles Feeling The Heat On New Autism Policy) The Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis (ONTABA) issued a scathing letter to Tracy MacCharles who is Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services over the latest policy to strip intensive behavioural therapy from thousands of Ontario kids over 5. […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Experts Question Ontario’s New Autism Policy In Scathing Letter

Mind Bending Politics: Kathleen Wynne’s Spouse Could Be Benefiting From Recent Changes to Autism Services In Ontario

(Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Spouse Jane Rounthwaite Worked as a Consultant in Autism Services While Parents Fought Government in Court in 2006) As the world celebrates Autism Awareness Day, parents in Ontario got extremely devastating news this past week that needed autism therapy would be no longer available after the age of 5. Back in […] . . . → Read More: Mind Bending Politics: Kathleen Wynne’s Spouse Could Be Benefiting From Recent Changes to Autism Services In Ontario

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: 37 health care findings by the Auditor General: Performance Problems

The litany of health care problems identified by the Auditor General is frightening. Here’s thirty-seven of them.Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs): Problems, Problems, ProblemsLHINs have not met performance expectations. “Most LHINs performed … . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: 37 health care findings by the Auditor General: Performance Problems

Defend Public Healthcare: Revenue up $1.2 B: Ontario overestimates deficit — for the sixth year

The Ontario government is forecasting that it will beat the deficit forecast for the sixth year in a row according to the province’s Fall Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.The deficit for this year is forecast to be $1 billion less than forecast … . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Revenue up $1.2 B: Ontario overestimates deficit — for the sixth year

Eh Types: Teach Your Children Well

A national newspaper referred to the “Sex-Ed problem”, regarding the ongoing curriculum dispute between the province and some parents. There is no Sex-Ed problem, there is an irresponsible parent problem. These parents are abdicating a responsibility to their children, to others as well, and it needs to stop. To parents who plan on opting their . . . → Read More: Eh Types: Teach Your Children Well

Defend Public Healthcare: Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

Defend Public Healthcare: Lowest health care funding increase ever?

Funding increase hits new low: The Ontario government plans health sector spending growth of 1.2% this year compared with the interim spending estimate for 2014/15.   This deepens the trend to cut health care funding increases.

($000s) 2005-6 2006-7 2007-8 2008-9 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012–13 Actual 2013–14 Interim 2014–15 Plan 2015–16 Health and Long-Term Care . . . → Read More: Defend Public Healthcare: Lowest health care funding increase ever?