When Health Minister Deb Matthews spoke at the closing of this year’s Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) HealthAchieve, the hall was two-thirds empty. Only two days before there was standing room only for Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield.
Attendance at the final morning of the OHA’s annual get-together is usually smaller than the preceding two days, but we’ve never seen it this sparse.
Former Health Minister George Smitherman could usually command a decent audience on the final day. For Deb Matthews, the reception might be connected to how hospital executives are feeling about the restraint they are under.
Two years ago the OHA reminded the province that the Harris Tories had planned three years of cost cutting at Ontario hospitals but had to abandon the effort after year two.
Not only did the Tories halt the last $507 million in cuts in 1998, but had to substantially increase their restructuring budget.
The OHA maintains those were days when hospitals could better afford the haircut.