July 24-26 the provincial Premiers will be meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the last Council of the Federation meeting before the 10-year federal-provincial health accord expires.
What comes next is largely a mystery. The federal government has committed to increased transfers but appears disinterested in what the provinces do with that money.
Federal transfers will continue at the 6 per cent threshold until 2017 but eventually align with economic growth. No matter what, the federal government has committed to a minimum growth in the Canada Health Transfer of 3 per cent.
Whereas the last accord was about reducing wait times for key diagnostics and procedures, there is no consensus about whether there will be any national objective over the next 10 years.
Health care groups are already organizing for the Niagara meeting, plans taking shape for a shadow summit and rally July 24-25.
Ontario Shores now has its orders from the Ministry of Labour.
It’s been almost a year since staff at the Whitby mental health centre went public with their concerns about violence at the Centre, expressing concern and frustration about a lack of meaningful action by their employer.
For all the activity Ontario Shores has shown to date, little has changed in the monthly statistics that show staff being assaulted on an almost daily basis.
Last September we noted a paper by Queen’s University faculty Dr. Heather Stuart suggests that aggressive behaviors differ dramatically in treatment units, “indicating that mental illness is not a sufficient cause for the occurrence of violence.”
Stuart states the “majority of incidents have important social/structural antecedents such as ward atmosphere, lack of clinical leadership, overcrowding, ward restrictions, lack of activities, or poorly structured activity transitions.”
Now Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences has a very detailed prescription to follow from the Ministry of Labour. Limited in its scope, the Ministry of Labour is not in a position to evaluate the impact of cuts to programming at the Centre on the behavior of those in their care.
This is one of the more ambitious low-budget videos we have seen that makes the case for unions in Canada. Made by Corinne Dara, it is billed as a parody of Gangnam Style. It certainly brought a smile to our faces. Nothing like enjoying your union-won weekend in the Ottawa snow! Check it out and pass it on using our share button.
It’s been a hornets’ nest for the past two months.
Quinte Health Care’s plan to shut down its lab at Trenton Memorial Hospital and replace it with “Point of Care Testing” (POCT) has raised the ire of local doctors, politicians and community members in this town of about 20,000 residents.
QHC plans to close Trenton’s lab in late September.
Doctors say the closure of the lab is the beginning of the end for Trenton’s emergency room – leaving the town with a glorified “first-aid post.” The hospital denies this, arguing the Picton and North Hastings sites maintain ERs with only POCT.
With cuts to nursing staff also part of the plan, the doctors question how emergency room nurses will have the time to safely operate POCT equipment.
POCT has remained controversial far beyond the confines of Trenton.
“There is no effective, independent, investigative oversight of hospital administration. Period.” – Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, 2008
Ontario has been resisting Ombudsman oversight of its public hospitals for long enough. Marin says he is not the first to demand this oversight – Arthur Maloney called for this extension of the Ombudsman’s scope in 1975, and successive holders of the office have followed suit to successive and unresponsive governments of all stripes.
Last week NDP Leader Andrea Horwath added Ombudsman oversight of health care to her shopping list of initiatives to improve the spring budget.
Given recent experiences with ORNGE and the diluted chemotherapy drug error, one would think that the time has finally come, Ontario the last province to issue such powers.
Marin himself wrote to the Premier in March regarding changes the province was making in the wake of the privatization scandal at ORNGE. Marin pointed out that Bill 11 would create “new bureaucracy of special investigators” which would report to the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, not to Provincial Parliament.
“Far from being watchdogs, they would operate on a ministerial dog leash,” he wrote.
Similarly the position of ORNGE “patient advocate” is even more toothless, reporting not to the public or to Parliament or even the ORNGE board of directors, but to the ORNGE vice-president.
This year Ontario is adding $1.3 billion to fund health care for 2013-14, but most of that increase will have come from dedicated sources amounting to almost a billion dollars.
Net contribution from general taxation will be about $360 million.
This is where the rest comes from:
• The net increase in the Canada Health Transfer (6%) will be $671 million.
• The net increase in revenue expected from the Employer Health Tax will be $134 million.
• The net increase in revenue from the much maligned Ontario Health Premium will be another $135 million.
Had the Wynne government followed Dwight Duncan’s plan from last year, the net contribution from Ontario’s general revenues would have only been a paltry $60 million to reach the $1 billion that the government had originally forecast as an increase for 2013-14.
Of the $48.8 billion to be spent on health care this year, the Feds can claim to be directly paying $12 billion through the Canada Health Transfer, or slightly less than 25 per cent.
The Employer Health Tax will contribute $5.3 billion (10.9 %) and the Ontario Health Premium will raise a total of $3.2 billion (6.5 %).
While $1.3 billion is nominally more, it is less than what is needed to cover basic inflation (1.2 %) and the impact of population growth (1 %) and aging (1 %) on the health system. Inflation in health care normally runs higher than the general inflation rate. For example, Ontario estimates drug costs will rise by 5.4 per cent this year.
The right care at the right place at the right time. It’s a reasonable goal for the health system, but frequently Ontarians are faced with difficult decisions because they can only access one or two of those three conditions.
Recently we received a call about potential layoffs at a nursing home in Grey County, leading us to wonder why, with so many Ontarians on wait lists for a long-term care bed, this particular home had several beds unfilled. It turned out to be not alone in the region.
In the South West region there is an average of 1,442 people waiting to get into a long-term care home (April 2013) – but that is not uniform. The South West stretches from Lake Erie in the South to Tobermory in the north and the experiences vary dramatically.
While the average wait to get into a long-term care home is 124 days, that is not the case in the northern part of the LHIN where the average wait in Grey and Bruce Counties is less than half at 55 days.
The municipal homes in Grey and Bruce Counties have the longest waits, being among the first choice of those seeking care, but those looking for immediate placement can have their pick from at least five homes. An additional six homes have waits for basic beds that are less than 30 days. Some are as short as four days.
Having this information available is certainly useful to families seeking to find a nursing home, although not all CCACs are consistent about posting such information. The question is, why? We surveyed the CCAC websites under “Long Term Care Options” and found wait time information at four – South West, Toronto Central, Central East and South East. If you are from one of the other CCACs and we missed your information, please let us know!