PC leader Tim Hudak has promised to spend an additional $6.1 billion on health care over the next four years should Ontario elect a provincial PC government. Sounds great until you realize the present increase per year is in excess of $2 billion. For the math challenged, that means Hudak is actually promising to spend about $2 billion less.
The problem is the Liberals are vulnerable themselves on this issue – they have vowed to get health care spending increases down to three per cent per year, which is more closely aligned with the numbers Hudak is pitching.
Globe and Mail columnist Adam Radwanski says Hudak is taking a page out of the Stephen Harper playbook by neutralizing the health care question. If he’s correct, it would be a pity.
How we organize our health system is just as critical as funding. In fact, it may have a direct impact on it.
Canada is in the middle of the pack when it comes to spending on public health care. The problem is we don’t necessarily do it well. There are many examples of how we could realize significant savings through better organization of our system – savings that could go into expanding the scope of Medicare to cover drugs or dentistry, not to mention bringing back some of the rehab services that got delisted under Dalton McGuinty. It’s also about the quality of life we expect.
Hudak wants to do away with the LHINs, the one body that is actively examining that question on a regional basis. Given he doesn’t want to replace the LHIN – the question is how do we address regional system organization?
In the past Hudak has also been a staunch supporter of competitive bidding in home care. Competitive bidding has led to a race to the bottom, particularly when it comes to job security, remuneration and benefits for the workers who do this work. It is also meant loss of continuity of care to some of Ontario’s most vulnerable patients.
We also know the Tories attitude towards privatization. There is no evidence to suggest privatization saves any money, and private providers make it increasingly difficult to manage health care as a system.
Whether Hudak matches McGuinty on funding is irrelevant – in the October election we still have much to talk about when it comes to health care.