Tag Archives: Andrea Horwath

Libs say budget “platform for next 30 days” after NDP vows to pull the plug

Well that was quick.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told the media this morning that she cannot support the Wynne budget, or more specifically, the Wynne government.

Horwath’s remarks suggested it wasn’t so much about the content of yesterday’s budget, but about trust in the present government.

A June 12 provincial election has now been set.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli told the Ottawa Citizen this morning “this budget is our platform for the next 30 days.”

The Liberals wasted no time in going on the attack, revealing their strategy to brand PC Leader Tim Hudak as representing the values of the U.S. Tea Party and accusing Horwath of bringing “zero policy forward.”

Horwath noted that the Wynne government had not delivered on past promises, including fixing home care and establishing a Financial Accountability Office.

Yesterday OPSEU President Warren Smokey Thomas had called upon Horwath to pull the plug on the two-and-a-half year-old minority government, calling the spring budget a “wholesale transfer of wealth from the public to the corporate sector.”

Continue reading

Ombudsman would be ideal party to resolve London’s toilet cleaning claims

Oh come on now. Attending question period at Queen’s Park can be an exercise in frustration as the opposition’s questions and the government’s answers seldom align.

You can ask anything you want, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the government will provide you with an answer that remotely addresses it.

Yesterday NDP Leader Andrea Horwath asked the Premier about an 80-year old patient at the London Health Sciences Centre who says he was told to clean his toilet.

Joseph Cummins was not just any patient – he is a retired professor of genetics at Western University and knows about hospital-acquired infections.

According to today’s Toronto Star, Cummins wandered out into the ward looking for someone to clean the bathroom he shares, at first finding no professional staff on the ward. Cummins admits to having had a mishap after being given a strong laxative and wanted to ensure it was cleaned up.

Continue reading

In Brief: Hospital cuts as transfers, Pupatello’s ego gets the better of her

Pop quiz: who wrote this: “Our government expects – as do health care providers – that this change will exacerbate the health conditions of patients with chronic conditions and those who are at risk of developing such conditions. In addition, given preventative care is less costly that emergency or acute care treatment, your policy represents a significant download to provinces and especially Ontario, where the vast majority of refugee claimants reside.” If you guessed Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, you’d be correct. Matthews’ wrote Federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in December over the impact of cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program for refugees. Tomorrow (Wednesday) opponents of the federal cuts will be meeting outside of Deb Matthews’ downtown Toronto office to ask Ontario to have a heart and provide stop-gap coverage for these disenfranchised refugees left without coverage. Demo starts at 11:30 am near Bay and Wellesley Streets in Toronto.

Windsor Regional Hospital is closing its long-standing Acute Injuries Rehabilitation and Evaluation Centre after the facility lost $300,000 last year. Once a revenue-generator for the hospital, the centre provides assessment and treatment services to people injured in automobile accidents or on the job. Revenues came from WSIB and other private insurance providers. The hospital claims two other private centres have meant that this insurance work done by the hospital has “dried up.” Curiously Windsor lawyer Suzanne Dajczak told the CBC that the closure would mean costs would shift to the patients. “When you’re injured, you’re under stress, finances generally are cut – in the cases that I see, substantially. They usually come when they’re denied and, yes, they’re going to struggle, and it’s going to be more difficult for injured workers” (Emphasis added). Is Ms. Dajczak suggesting that these private clinics may be less supportive of injured worker claims than the public hospital?

Continue reading

Ontario NDP invites you to have your say on the budget

The Ontario New Democrats are seeking your input into the provincial budget.

Tim Hudak and the Tories have already said they will vote against it. This gives the NDP the opportunity to push for meaningful changes.

Tuesday’s budget represents considerable austerity for health care, especially for hospitals which are expected to endure a freeze on their base budgets. It does nothing to address the lack of resources in mental health.

Coupled with cuts to affordable housing, a freeze on social assistance and delays in the promised increase to the Ontario Child Benefit, the budget does nothing to address the social determinants of health, placing even greater strain on the health system.

The NDP are asking what you like about the budget as well as what you dislike. They are also asking if you would support calling a snap election over the contents of the budget.

To have your say, click here.

Ontario hospital CEOs are not leaving for megabucks in the private sector — Lewis

Saskatoon health policy consultant Steven Lewis agrees with NDP leader Andrea Horwath that there needs to be a cap on Ontario hospital CEO salaries.

While calling the issue mostly symbolic – he says the income of hospital CEOs barely covers Frank Stonach’s tip money – Lewis asserts that most CEOs are not motivated by the pay rate. Nor is there any evidence that CEOs are leaving for megabucks jobs in the private sector. Given hospital CEOs make far more than their counterparts in the public service, why shouldn’t there be a reasonable cap?

To read Lewis’ essay on the Longwood’s site, click here.

Health care and Andrea Horwath’s hair – the election winds down

It’s not even election day and the media has already begun navel gazing about why voters ignored the platforms and got hung up on the minutiae of the horse race. The National Post is doing so by trying to analyse the content of Twitter posts. Do they really think this represents the views of typical Ontarians?

Continue reading

Will NHS supervisor rebuild public confidence?

The troubled Niagara Health System is getting a supervisor appointed by the Ministry of Health to take over the hospital.

According to the Ministry of Health news release, “these steps are being taken to restore necessary public confidence in the local hospital system. Despite the hospital’s best efforts, doubts remain about its ability to meet Niagara-area residents’ expectations of their local health care system.”

The appointment follows local pressure over more than 30 C. Difficle-related deaths at the hospital since May 28, although Health Minister Deb Matthews told the CBC that the issue is much more than that – that she had heard concerns about NHS right from day one of her appointment.

Much of the negative publicity the NHS has received stemmed from a hospital “improvement plan” that included closure of ERs in Port Colborne and Fort Erie and the planned transfer of maternity services to the new St. Catharines hospital.

The new hospital itself has been the focus of much criticism over the high cost of building and operating the facility as a public-private partnership.

This lengthy community turmoil was noted by the New Democrats. NDP leader Andrea Horwath told the St. Catharines Standard: “It seems to me that the Health Minister is the last person in Ontario to realize there’s a crisis in confidence in the Niagara Health System. Where has she been for the last couple of years?”

Matthews statement would suggest that the supervisor will have a much greater mandate than exploring hospital-based infections at NHS.

Unlike other hospitals where senior staff and board have been dismissed following such appointments, Matthews has made it clear that she expects the supervisor to work with existing staff and board.

Who gets appointed may be of concern.

The community may perceive an appointment of a nearby Hamilton hospital executive to be a conflict of interest, particularly if recommendations emerge to move any regionalized services to that city.

Given the Minister’s desire to rebuild confidence, it would be preferable to bring a supervisor from outside the region given the track record in the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN on public consultation. In 2010 the ombudsman was particularly critical of the lack of proper public consultation over changes to the NHS and Hamilton Health Sciences, calling existing practices “simply illegal.”

It is also not clear how this will impact the review of the misnamed “hospital improvement plan” (HIP) in Niagara. The review was supposed to involve appointees from area municipalities in addition to the LHIN and the NHS. There was widespread suspicion over the review given two of the three organizations on the review were responsible for the original HIP.

The appointment of a supervisor may also open up the NHS to investigation by the ombudsman’s office. As private not-for-profit organizations, hospitals are normally off-limits to the ombudsman. The appointment of a supervisor effectively places the hospital under the direct control of the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and subject to the ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

The Ombudsman has made no secret of his desire to be able to investigate the MUSH sector – municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, police, and children’s aid societies.

While the St. Catharines Standard says it will be 14 days before a supervisor is named, there is anticipation that such an announcement may come much sooner.

NDP platform takes on dysfunctional home care system

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath recently told the media she would not be revealing the NDP platform all at once, but the party web site does already contain a comprehensive platform.

The platform includes four major headings –  Making Life Affordable; Creating and Protecting Jobs; Building Healthcare That Works For You; and Living Within Our Means.

The NDP is the only party to commit to taking on the dysfunctional home care system which the most conservative estimates suggest 30 per cent of costs are tied up with administration surrounding the competitive bidding. The NDP would conduct a review of home care with the goal of bringing back a publicly-owned and accountable system. They would also target funding to increase the supply of home care by a million hours within four years.

The NDP see fixing home care as part of unlocking the puzzle of patients stuck in hospital waiting for community-based care. They also plan to add long term care (LTC) beds to eliminate the 2,650 Ontarians presently on the wait list. A recent OHA survey did suggest there were alternate level of care patients waiting for home care, although the majority – 61 per cent – were waiting for LTC. Patients in ALC beds were also waiting for rehab, complex continuing care, palliative care, convalescent care, assisted living/supportive housing as well as placement in mental health care.

The NDP would also add 50 round-the-clock health care clinics to alleviate emergency wait times. The goal would be to increase alternative options to cut hospital emergency department wait times in half.

The NDP commits to bringing more health services back under public OHIP coverage, including the elimination of ambulance fees.

The platform includes a hard cap on CEO salaries, limiting compensation to twice the Premier’s salary. They make the point that it would still compensate CEOs at seven times the level of a nurse. The NDP would also crack down on the use of outside consultants.

An NDP government would also forgive student debt to new doctors willing to locate in underserved areas with the goal of adding 200 doctors over four years to these communities.

The party would make drug costs a priority in any negotiations with the Federal government around a new health accord.

The NDP would open up hospitals to the scrutiny of the ombudsman – something Andre Marin has been asking for in his annual reports.

Like the Tories the NDP would scrap the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), however, unlike the Tories, they pledge to replace them with some undetermined form of local decision-making.

No platform would be complete without a promise around prevention, and the NDP do that with a pledge to make mandatory physical education in post-secondary schools, ban junk food advertising to children and force large chain restaurants to label calorie counts.