Why privatization is not the biggest issue with Ontario's health reforms
2019-02-10 from cbc.ca
Much noise is being made about the changes in store for Ontario's health system, so if you're struggling to understand what is actually going to happen, you're forgiven.
The New Democrats say Premier Doug Ford and his government have a secret plan to throw the system wide open to privatization. The Progressive Conservatives accuse the NDP of baseless fear-mongering, and they say nothing has been decided.
The reality is almost certainly somewhere in between.
Leaks about the government's ideas for reform have emerged over the past few weeks. They clearly show that health-care administration in this province is in for a shakeup. They do not clearly indicate that health-care privatization is on the way, as the NDP claims.
The revelations began with sources telling CBC News that the PCs intend to dissolve Ontario's local health integration networks, known as LHINs. The Toronto Star then reported a plan to form a "super agency" that would oversee the whole system, taking over from the LHINs and folding in such agencies as Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth.
Then the NDP obtained a draft bill that would pave the way for those restructuring plans, confirming what CBC and the Star had reported. Finally, this week, leaked ministry documents detailed the nitty-gritty of the plans.
These lengthy documents, along with an officially released report from Ford's special advisory team on ending hallway health care, provide a picture of how Ontario's health system will likely change.
There is no evidence in these many pages that the Ford government is cooking up a plan to make Ontarians pay for health services that are currently insured under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the kind of privatization that supporters of medicare fear most.
There remains the possibility that private-sector companies will play a greater role in the delivery of health care in Ontario. In fact, that is happening already. If an Ontarian gets a blood test, home care, or a prescription for his or her child, those services, though funded by public dollars, are often provided by corporations.
By setting off the privatization alarm with a hair-trigger, the NDP risks distracting Ontarians from the potentially disruptive administrative changes that are on the way and the very necessary questions about whether those changes will improve health care.
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