Ford government announces plans to overhaul (devastate) public health care system

The Council of Canadians is an active supporter of public health care.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the Ford government’s worst-kept secret today: its plans to overhaul the province’s public health system.

According to the CBC, the Doug Ford government is creating a “super-agency” called Ontario Health to oversee the province's $60-billion health-care system. It will dissolve 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and merge their duties with those of six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario.

The NDP revealed these secret plans last month in a series of leaked documents. While Minister Elliott attempted to claim these changes weren’t a done deal, and that the government would consult on any health care changes, today’s announcement proves otherwise.

The changes will be contained in new legislation, The People's Health Care Act, 2019, which Elliott is planning to table in the Ontario legislature today.

Elliott unveiled details of the Ford government’s  plans to encourage hospitals, long-term care facilities, home-care agencies and other health service providers to form "integrated care entities." These groups would get a block of funding and hundreds of thousands of patients to provide health care services for.

The CBC reported that when asked repeatedly what the changes mean in terms of cost savings or administrative job losses, Elliott would not provide specifics on either point. The news release touting the changes does mention "eliminating duplicative back office infrastructure and administration."

In a recent media release, the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) said “academic leaders, democracy advocates, patient advocates, front-line care workers and doctors are all speaking with one voice when it comes to the leaked health care omnibus bill that has secretly been planned by the Ford government for months: if passed, it would cause health care chaos that will last for years.”

Nathalie Mehra, Executive Director of the OHC said, ““It is the blueprint for the creation of a super bureaucracy that is charged with facilitating mega-mergers, service movement, transfers, closures, privatization: essentially restructuring on steroids. The evidence from past experiments that were much smaller in scope cost billions of dollars, taking money away from care that will never be recovered. Ford’s plan will be enormously costly, destabilizing and damaging just when we need a government that will rebuild not destroy public health care.”

The Council of Canadians supports publicly provided and administered health care, which has been proven to provide better quality and more efficient care for patients. We oppose the privatization of health care services which will cost more and give people less care.