Are Ontarians suffering from outrage fatigue?

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.

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  • Mary Catherine McCarthy says:

    Thanks for this article. We have a huge challenge ahead to reverse the damage to public health care caused by the Ford Conservatives privatization agenda.

  • Chris Bonnett says:

    I think there is very little to cherish in our current system. The overwhelming evidence is that our sorta-system has been mismanaged and poorly governed by governments of all stripes for decades. No leadership, stifled innovation, mismanagement, weak governance, limited integration, public indifference, politicized decision-making…and more. We can measure inertia over decades, not just one or two politicians or their parties.

    There is no perfect health system, but ours always falls near the bottom of international comparisons. Uncritical adherence to ‘government is best’ and ‘single payer’ and ‘blame the [pick a party]’ is not helpful. It has stopped dialogue and therefore progress. There are many different kinds of evidence we need to assess. Almost none it supports the status quo.

  • Mike Fraumeni says:

    Maybe read this to at the very least temper your obvious bias. Perhaps there is some sort of middle ground between “private” healthcare and “public” healthcare? My guess is yes so that such a compromise actually can help foster some change within our healthcare system in Ontario that is sinking and sinking fast. And, BTW, an ACO is more or less equivalent to the Ontario government which seems to be, sadly, our only choice to how we as citizens can get health care insurance for many health care concerns here in Ontario. It’s not working here in Ontario, that I’m sure we both agree on. And the answer is not to divest mega millions from the public purse that will impact other areas of health and social concern ie education, poverty, homelessness, housing issues etc.:

    Paul Hsieh. 5 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Obamacare. Forbes Magazine. Nov. 13, 2012

    “ObamaCare will worsen the current physician shortage. The law will also drive physicians to become hospital employees or to join large Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), where their treatment decisions will be monitored with mandatory electronic medical records. Government and private insurers will increasingly link payments to adherence to “comparative effectiveness” practice guidelines. Physicians will face significant conflicts-of-interest when their patients might benefit from treatments outside the guidelines, but the physician risks nonpayment (or losing his ACO contract) as a result….Ask your doctor if he will be joining an ACO. (Not all doctors will.) If so, ask if your personal medical records can be excluded from his ACO practice statistics. If ACO rules allow it, this will help him practice outside the guidelines when medically appropriate (e.g., ordering an MRI scan sooner than usual or prescribing a stronger but more expensive antibiotic) without fear of hurting his overall statistics.” ,,,


Erin Ariss


Erin Ariss, RN, is the Provincial President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

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