Owen Sound media insists down is really up

Ah, reporters.

We recently contacted a writer from the Owen Sound Sun Times regarding her story about the Drummond Commission recommendations. In it, reporter Tracey Richardson states:

“About 100 of those recommendations were devoted to the $47-billion health care industry, which eats up about 43% of the provincial budget and is growing.”

We pointed out that in the most recent budget health care made up 42 per cent of provincial program spending, and that it has recently been as much as 46 per cent of program spending (2010-11 budget).

How could this be construed as “growing” as a percentage of government spending? 42, after all, is less than 46.

Ms. Richardson replied to our e-mail complaint about the inaccuracy in her story. She said health care spending was somewhere between 42 and 43 per cent, depending on your “political leanings.” She didn’t offer to explain how this could be more than 46 per cent, but that we were free to write a letter to the editor if we had “strong opinions.”

Sorry Tracey – but you were plain wrong. You accepted Don Drummond’s word as fact, and evidently never looked at the actual provincial budget documents. When we attempted to correct your error, you suggested it was opinion.

For the record, this is what the provincial budgets actually forecast health care spending to be:

  • 2009-10: 43 per cent of program spending
  • 2010-11: 46 per cent of program spending
  • 2011-12: 42 per cent of program spending

In 2010-11 the actual spending on health care came in $454 million below what was forecast. Yes, below.

The government explained in last spring’s budget “health sector expense is projected to decrease by $454.0 million, primarily due to revised Electronic Health Record project plans, lower-than-expected uptake in vaccine and assistive devices programs, and the extended deadline for short-term stimulus projects.”

Ah, the facts. They have a way of messing up a pretty good story.

Oh, and the $47 billion health “industry?” It’s actually a lot bigger than that. Only about two-thirds of Ontario’s health care expenditures are public. The rest? You pay it out-of-pocket or through private insurance. Costs are rising there too, but Don Drummond has no recommendations on that front.

One response to “Owen Sound media insists down is really up

  1. To bad people are so gullible when it comes to the facts.The people of Ontario take too much for granted and believe what every politician and executive presents is the right solution to the problem. Get the facts before you speculate

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