You would think these would be the best of times for community health care providers.
The Wynne government is freezing base hospital funding and telling Ontarians that they can instead have it all closer to home. The policy is one of a burning platform in which hospitals are fiscally forced to divest services to community agencies or run up considerable debt.
On the surface it appears popular in theory. Patients see it as an opportunity to access care without paying those costly hospital parking fees or risking a super bug because of the hospital cleaners that got laid off.
It remains largely a theory because the money the government is saving on hospitals is not necessarily flowing to community agencies.
If you look at reallocation of health spending over the last three decades, hospitals in Canada have shrunk from 41.8 per cent of the health care pie in 1984 to 29.1 per cent in 2011. Where did the money go? Much of it went to rapidly rising pharmaceutical costs — not to home and community care. In 1984 drugs took up 6.1 per cent of health spending. By 2011 it was 13.6 per cent. Through much of the mid-decade spending on home and community care actually went down in Ontario relative to other health sectors. The McGuinty government never walked the talk.