Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday August 19, 2022
Ontario to fund more private clinic surgeries, send patients to temporary LTCs to ease health-care pressures
Ontario is hoping to ease health-care pressures by increasing publicly covered surgeries at private clinics, waiving the exam and registration fees for internationally trained nurses, and sending patients waiting for a long-term care bed to a home not of their choosing.
On Thursday, Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced a plan that aims to hire more health professionals, free up hospital beds and reduce surgical wait lists. The plan comes as nursing staff shortages have seen emergency departments across the province close throughout the summer for hours or days at a time.
On long-term care, the government plans to introduce legislation today that will allow patients awaiting a bed to be transferred to a “temporary” home while they await space in their preferred home. It’s also taking 300 beds that had been used for COVID-19 isolation and making them available for people on wait lists, and says there is a potential to do that with 1,000 more beds within six months.
The province’s plan outlines more of a role for privately delivered but publicly covered services, with the government saying it will invest more to increase surgeries in pediatric hospitals and existing private clinics covered by OHIP. It is also considering options for further increasing surgical capacity by increasing the number of those procedures performed at “independent health facilities.”
Jones said Ontario needs to be “bold, innovative and creative” when looking for ways to improve the health system.
Jones did not directly answer a question about whether she would consider allowing more private clinics in Ontario.
“Health care will continue to be provided to the people of Ontario through the use of your OHIP card,” she said.
Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, slammed the plan to increase services in private clinics.
“This is a blatant move that will line the pockets of investors, nothing more,” she said in a statement.
“The evidence is clear: health-care privatization provides worse health outcomes to our patients and has much higher overhead costs which will be paid by taxpayers. Ontario is deep-diving into privatization that will only benefit shareholders.” (CBC)