Tories can’t add — Hudak way off on LHIN savings

Photo of 32 staff at the Central East Local Health Integration Network. The Tories suggest the Local Health Integration Networks have an average of 142 staff, which is not true.

The entire staff of the Central East LHIN. Does this look like 142 people to you?

Somebody please go to the buck store and get PC leader Tim Hudak a calculator.

We previously reported that the Tories long-standing pledge to eliminate the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) was missing from their platform.

Tim Hudak did eventually get around to the issue, renewing this promise.

Unfortunately, the promise also revealed more bad math. Far from being a “straight shooter,” Hudak’s campaign appears to be untroubled about facts.

Inside Queen’s Park reported yesterday that Hudak said he will cut 2,000 positions at the LHINs and save about $250 million.

Really?

Given there are 14 LHINs that would represent an average staff of 142.8 and an operating budget of nearly $18 million each.

We’ve sat through enough LHIN board meetings to realize this is way off. That prompted us to trek through the 14 annual reports presented on-line by the LHINs to check out their audited statements. We also went looking for their staff directories to add ‘em up.

What we found was, with a five per cent cut to their administrative budgets last year, the direct cost of all 14 LHINs was about $64 million. If you add in special projects, you could average about $1.5 million more each. That would add up to about another $21 million, assuming the Tory Health Hubs would never want to pilot anything or ever seek evidence in health planning decisions. That total would amount to $85 million. That’s a long way from saving $250 million.

Verifying how many staff there are was a little more difficult. We did find this on-line picture of the staff of the Central East LHIN.

With nine missing from the picture, their staff adds up to 41. This is at one of the bigger LHINs in the province. It serves 11 per cent of Ontario’s population. Smaller LHINs, like Central, have 34 staff in their directory. We couldn’t find staff numbers for two LHINs, but our total added up to 446, which is consistent with the roughly 500 reported by the Hamilton Spectator in 2011. That means Tim Hudak was off by about 300 per cent.

Further Hudak claims that the LHINs represent a “big chunk” of health care spending. Seriously? $64 million on a $50 billion budget is less than 0.15 per cent — or about a sixth of one per cent. We defy anybody to say 0.15 per cent of anything is a “big chunk.”

Of course these savings would be fleeting given Hudak intends to replace 14 LHINs with 30-40 health hubs that will be apparently run by front-line health professionals. That won’t come for free.

The story of how the Tories miscalculated their one million jobs has been the subject of Liberal campaign ads and much tongue wagging in the community.

The way Hudak describes the LHINs shows he is completely out of touch with easily verifiable facts about how this province is run.

Is this really who you want drafting the next Ontario budget?

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