Tag Archives: Dalton McGuinty

Much left on health care agenda by prorogued parliament

The decision by Premier Dalton McGuinty to step down and shut down the provincial parliament leaves many questions about the future of Ontario’s health care.

With no parliament, there will be no review of the Local Health Integration Networks, a commitment that the McGuinty government wrote into the original Act that created the Crown agencies.

When the government wrote the Local Health System Integration Act in 2006, somebody forgot to calculate that a five year mandated review would take place just prior to a fixed date election. Whoops! McGuinty did suggest that such a review might not be necessary at all until someone reminded him that it was written into the legislation.

There was no way the government was going to undertake a review of the unpopular LHINs just prior to going to the polls. In recent months we had heard that such a review was finally going to go to committee. Now that won’t happen. That means it could be seven years before the five-year review happens.

Continue reading

Austerity costly to UK economy – is Ontario headed the same way?

The McGuinty government is big on British policy imports, from the costly public-private partnerships to his recent mania for austerity.

If you want a preview of what’s going to happen in Ontario, look to Britain.

This week it became official. Britain is back in recession after having two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Since the austerity-minded Cameron government came to power in 2010, net growth in the British economy has only been an anemic 0.4 per cent. During the last two quarters Britain’s economy has shrunk by 0.2 per cent – this at a time when they had been predicting modest growth.

While cutting taxes at the top end of the scale, Cameron’s belief in “trickle-down” economics has led to considerable criticism of his economic policies, Cameron himself described as “speaking for the few.”

Like Ontario, Cameron’s government is implementing the harshest public sector cuts in a generation.

Sound familiar?

Continue reading

Health and education vs. sports executive boxes

It’s no surprise that the root cause of the recent recession would be eventually reinterpreted to blame the public sector.

Now that the bankers and the auto industry have now renounced their brief flirtation with socialism, it seems we are told our problems stem from us little people having it too good when it comes to health, education and other public services.

Even the ever apoplectic Rex Murphy blames Premier Dalton McGuinty for the sudden state of the province’s finances, and not the bankers who crashed the economy and suddenly put a big hole in Ontario’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, blowing harder than usual these days, says Ontario has fundamental budget problems – “major spending problems that they’ve built up over the course of eight years.”

Continue reading

McGuinty says wait times could lengthen

The government has repeatedly responded to criticisms about health care by trotting out statistics describing how much wait times have been reduced since 2004.

On Monday Premier Dalton McGuinty suggested to reporters that wait times could increase once cost-cutting “reforms” are introduced in the March budget.

Is McGuinty confusing cuts with reforms? What kind of “reform” would citizens buy into that actually lengthened wait times? This makes no sense.

The suggestion may also rock public opinion. Ontarians have been sold on the idea that their biggest health care concern is wait times. 82 per cent told the Vector Poll in December that government’s top priority should be to reduce ER wait times.

Continue reading

Extreme restraint could deep-six more than wages and public services

Dalton McGuinty may well need to consider the age old question, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Commenting last week on the preliminary recommendations of the Drummond Commission, McGuinty said government spending will have to be limited to increases of only 1 per cent per year to 2018. He says this will be necessary because of the slow economic growth former bank economist Don Drummond is predicting over the next six years.

Continue reading

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

Did McGuinty err in his mental heath campaign announcement?

Premier Dalton McGuinty might have found a better venue for his campaign mental health announcement today at the Centre for Mental Health and Addictions (CAMH).

CAMH has experienced significant layoffs over the past two years, yet McGuinty’s announcement really had more to do with support for mental health services delivered mostly elsewhere.

For the first time, however, we have a glimpse of how the Liberals plan to support mental health issues for adults.

After waiting three years for the comprehensive 10-year mental health plan, the McGuinty government instead gave us a three-year plan for child and adolescent mental health this spring. There is no question this is needed – three of four children with mental illness are going without treatment, and waits are frequently more than a year. But what about the adults?

At McGuinty’s announcement he said Ontario would commit $30 million more per year on adult mental health – but not until 2014. This surely must be a mistake on the Premier’s part.

If it’s true, this is insulting on two counts: the first forcing adults with mental illness to wait another three years before their issue can be addressed, the second being the pittance he is offering.

$30 million is a fraction of the cost of the bricks and mortar his government is putting into hard infrastructure at CAMH, North Bay, Windsor, Cambridge and other mental health facilities. If a concrete beam could provide mental health care, this might be a good plan.

This is $30 million on what by then will be a health budget of at least $53 billion (quite literally by Conservative standards). That’s .006 per cent.

Ontario lags far behind other provinces on mental health spending and it’s not even close to reaching the World Health Organization standard, which suggests eight per cent of health care spending should be committed to mental health. Ontario is a little over five per cent.

Ironically CAMH is part of the Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Alliance, which is calling for a comprehensive basket of services in every community, complaining of “wildly uneven” access.

The Alliance states: “In communities across the province, there are shortfalls in service across the many parts of the continuum including access to psychiatric assessments, hospital beds, residential addiction treatment and peer support, to name but a few.”

After a three-year plan that delivered little, the Alliance is calling for “a number of critical policy, planning, and funding capacities” at the provincial level to meet broader system reforms.

They say the needed reforms include clearly articulated goals and objectives, the capacity to plan and fund based on population need, and the ability to monitor and report on the functioning of the system. Wasn’t this all supposed to be in the 10-year plan?

The cost of inaction on this file is huge – the Alliance estimates the economic cost of mental health to be $39 billion annually in Ontario.

There is also a further question about support for mental health issues that fall outside the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The PC campaign shows programs outside the health and education envelopes being frozen until at least 2017, which raises questions about where the money will come from to address the social determinants of health, including supportive housing. Clearly there is some silo thinking going on in the Tory camp.

Unless Dalton misfired, the Liberal commitment appears to be a smoke screen to a public that is unaware of the scale of this problem. The NDP tell us they still support the all-party plan, which is far from being implemented. To date they have not addressed the issue publicly. The Tories say people have been lost in the mental health system, but offer no remedies in Changebook.

A year ago the three parties were all fired up about addressing the injustices in mental health. A year later nobody appears to want to talk about it.