In Brief: $170.8 billion taken out of public sector through tax cuts between 1997-2004 / More

Health economist Robert G. Evans has an alternate take on the question of health care sustainability. As bankers continue to claim health care costs will gobble up government budgets, Evans replied this week in the Toronto Star that health care is as sustainable as we want it to be.  Evans says public Medicare expenditures have been relatively stable. However, private insurance, primarily for drugs and dentistry, now accounts for 12.7 per cent of Canadian health care spending – 14th highest in the world. Evans says health care has taken an increasing share of provincial spending as a “simple consequence of large cuts in non-health programs, not out-of-control medicare spending.” The economist points out that between 1997 and 2004 tax cuts removed about $170.8 billion from public sector revenues. Total provincial revenues are now about $35 billion per year less as a result, or about half the current provincial spending on Medicare. … After telling OPSEU their plans were firm to cut all seven full-time RPNs at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, the Barry’s Bay health care facility changed its mind after the story found its way into the local media. Four of the seven full-time jobs have now been saved. The remaining three have already taken voluntary exit package. … Police have laid fraud charges against the administrator of an Ottawa-area long term care facility. Joanne Talbot-Brisson appeared in court May 28 on 25 charges, including criminal breach of trust, fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000, possession of the proceeds of crime, misappropriation of money held under direction, falsifying employment records and uttering a forged document. Two other women were also charged. It is unclear whether the newly passed Retirement Home Act would have made any difference. Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE), told the Ottawa Citizen that privately run care homes are “a bit of the wild west. They’re called different things in different places. There really doesn’t seem to be oversight.” . … Despite an occupancy rate of 98.8 per cent, the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN says there are no plans to open up any more long term care beds in that region. Like other hospitals, Soldier’s Memorial Hospital in Orillia is shedding beds. The hospital plans to cut 25 beds over the next two years. Community members are concerned that with nursing home beds full, alternate level of care patients will have nowhere to go. Ontario has 56 per cent fewer hospital beds per capita than it did in 1990.

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