Anyone paying attention to the goings on at Queen’s Park will know that a growing list of legislative moves are clearly aimed at both hollowing out our not-for-profit, cherished Ontario health-care system and rewarding corporate providers with large chunks of taxpayers’ health-care funding dollars.
This government’s actions – from the Greenbelt debacle to the Ontario Place redevelopment – have fostered a social conscience in Ontarians that hasn’t been this robust in decades. Yet, changes to health care – a service that is at the core of our Canadian values to care for one another – is resulting in a somewhat subdued reaction.
Are Ontarians suffering from outrage fatigue when it comes to this government’s destruction of this sector?
A quick review of the provincial government’s actions makes the wholesale move of health-care privatization clear. The government has taken three actions to increase profit in health care:
First, Doug Ford’s Conservative government has quietly expanded the role and opportunities for corporate, profiteering health-care companies to perform surgeries and procedures.
Second, the government is paying these private corporations far more in fees to perform the same procedures as performed in public hospitals – out of taxpayers’ money.
Third, the government has allowed desperately needed RNs and health-care professionals – who are paid more by for-profit agencies with higher salaries and more control over their own schedules – to be lured away from the public system by private, for-profit nursing agencies who are gouging our public hospitals of desperately needed funding. As taxpayer funds are being drained from our public hospitals and long-term care homes, this government is standing idly by, taking no action to regulate the fees that agencies can charge.
And if this isn’t enough, the government has introduced Bill 151, The Improving Real Estate Management Act, that gives the Minister of Infrastructure oversight of properties (land and buildings) that belong to Public Health Ontario, Ontario Health and Ontario Health atHome (once it’s created). This will allow the government to sell off more public capital to developers, as it did with the sale of London’s psychiatric hospital.
Private, for-profit health care costs more, does not reduce wait times and results in worse health outcomes for patients.
Premier Ford has branded all this, of course, as positive. But the evidence from around the world and right here in Canada is clear. Private, for-profit health care costs more, does not reduce wait times (and sometimes lengthens them) and results in worse health outcomes for patients – all while draining the public system of desperately needed health-care workers and funds.
As a registered nurse with decades of experience dealing with bad policy from government and health-care bosses, I know it is exhausting to keep fighting against this onslaught. It is understandable that some people may be too burnt out to fight back, even for what they value most.
Years of struggling with underfunding, understaffing and working in a health-care system that is chronically overcapacity has left many nurses heading for the exits, or to private, for-profit agencies that allow them to control their own schedules and maximize their pay.
As we enter another year of a COVID battle that seems to have no end in sight, and year six of the Ford Conservative government, outrage fatigue is real for anyone who believes and advocates for better public health care in this province.
But without each of us speaking out, the government will continue full steam ahead destroying the public health-care system every one of us will need one day.
As a health-care professional, I trust evidence, and the evidence is there for anyone to see.
For those waiting for hours and even days for the care they need, deserve and pay taxes for, I urge every one of them to pay attention to why our cherished health-care system is not meeting the public’s needs, to ask questions and to continue fighting for our public health care. You deserve more. Don’t let outrage fatigue make you accept less than you deserve.