Ontario gets worse grade than feds on CMA report card

Ontario is the only region in Canada to receive a worse rating than the federal government on how it deals with health care according to the Canadian Medical Association’s National Report Card for 2012.

The report card represents a poll of Canadians conducted in July by Ipsos Read Public Affairs.

Given most Canadians likely couldn’t name the Federal Health Minister, Ontario’s inferior ranking is a curious result.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has been largely invisible to the public. When questions started getting asked about the federal response to the Sandoz drug shortage, for example, Aglukkaq was largely missing in action.

Despite federal sponsorship of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Aglukkaq was a bit player at the launch of the Commission’s strategy earlier this year, her speech uninspired, her commitments no more than a nod to fund ongoing research.

When it came to renewing the Federal-Provincial Accord on Health Care, it was Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who stole the spotlight, telling the province how much money they would receive and walking away without any agreement on how it would be spent.

The Harper government also changed the way the funding formula would apply, making every province but Alberta losers.

It’s clear the federal agenda on health care is to mostly stay out of it. This is despite the fact that the federal government itself is a significant direct provider of health care to indigenous people, veterans, and the military. It also has a major role in public health protection.

This spring the Vector Polling Coalition (of which OPSEU is a member) also looked at the role of federal government in maintaining national standards for health care. In Ontario 65 per cent said the federal government should be setting standards that the province have to follow. That included 59 per cent of Conservative voters. That’s clearly not happening.

The same Vector poll stated 45 per cent believe the Harper government’s new funding formula would not improve health care. Only 11 per cent thought it would make it better.

Given the poor performance of the federal government, the results would instead suggest a comparative degree of public unhappiness with how the McGuinty government is handling the health portfolio, likely adding momentum to those who think Health Minister Deb Matthews’ time in the Minister’s chair is up.

No doubt the ORNGE debacle was still fresh in everyone’s minds when the poll was taken earlier this summer, contributing significantly to the negative score.

While health care was played out as the big winner in the spring budget, the reality of hospitals having to make difficult choices to cope with a base funding freeze became apparent over the summer.

Media also picked up on our own story about inadequate inspection of Ontario’s long term care homes, most of which have not had a detailed inspection since 2009. Stories emerging about abuse and neglect in the province’s long term care homes had us all expecting the province to step up inspection, not give for-profit nursing home chains even more latitude in how they manage their affairs.

In Ontario 46 per cent of respondents gave the federal government a grade of A or B in how they were handling health care compared to 44 per cent for the province. Nowhere else in Canada did the feds score as high. By comparison, 43 per cent of Albertans gave their province and A or B compared to 37 per cent for the feds.

More on the CMA report card coming soon.

To download the full CMA National Report Card on Health Care, click here.

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