Saturday April 6, 2019
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday April 6, 2019
Balancing Ontario’s budget about to get painful — literally
Some are suggesting the Ford government is playing a little bait and switch with recent announcements.
As in, look over here: we’re dumping the licence plate slogan Yours to Discover for something else — maybe even Open for Business. How outrageous is that? (Based on the social media reaction, the answer is: very.)
And, look, look, we’re scrapping the provincial Trillium logo because it looks like three men in a hot tub. Crazy eh?
These would be the bait parts, intended to obscure the much bigger and altogether not humorous changes, like controversial education reforms that will reduce teacher-student interaction and eventually eliminate about 3,500 teaching positions.
Or this one: the province is studying changes to OHIP that would, among other things, drastically reduce the amount of pain-control medication available to chronic pain sufferers. And funding to remove certain types of polyps found during colonoscopies may be eliminated. Diabetes management, echocardiograms and tonsillectomies are also being examined.
And, get this, the government may defund the practice of allowing general anesthetic for people undergoing colonoscopy testing.
The potential OHIP changes, which were revealed in an exclusive story by CityNews Toronto, are part of an effort to cut $460 million from the OHIP budget. A group of doctors and government officials are examining best practices to see where medical tests are overused or unnecessary.
Having a hard look at OHIP services makes sense. Health care, overall, is the top budget item for the province ($60 billion last year), with education not far behind. It makes sense to audit what we’re doing and paying for. But going from there to legislating more uncomfortable colonoscopies is a big leap.
With the government’s first budget coming next week, we should prepare ourselves for more news like this. Even though Doug Ford denied that getting Ontario’s books in order would be a painful process, anyone with common sense knew that wasn’t realistic.
It’s all about money. Those education reforms, which the province says will make kids more resilient? How convenient that they also save a few hundred million. Same with reducing OHIP-funded services.
But keep an eye on those OHIP changes. They may also be Ford opening the door to more private health care. Want more anesthetic with that colonoscopy? We can do that for a small fee. Need more pain management drugs? Sign right here.
What about the hidden costs of cuts like these? How many Ontarians who should get colonoscopies won’t? How many pain medication patients will turn to opiates, legal or illegal? How many people with diabetes will get sicker sooner in the absence of ongoing diabetes management programs? If the government cuts psychotherapy funding to 24 hours a year — another proposal — what will happen to patients?
We know the answer. People will get sicker, faster and more seriously. They will require more expensive, intensive intervention from the health and/or social services system. Sadly, the government is probably not studying that aspect of its budget plan. (Source: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)