Code Blue in Ottawa: Marlene Rivier chairs a panel including (R-L) Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Mike McBane (Canadian Health Coalition) and Natalie Mehra (Ontario Health Coalition).
OTTAWA – Natalie Mehra says The Ontario Health Coalition is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to service transfers to private endoscopy clinics from The Ottawa Hospital.
Speaking at a “Code Blue” forum in Ottawa last night, the director of the coalition said the privatization of these hospital services were “unprecedented,” part of a series of changes that had become “divorced” from planning around patient need in the Ottawa region.
Mehra raised questions about the capacity of these private clinics to absorb 4,000 endoscopies, particularly when they were likely to lengthen wait lists.
Given endoscopies are going to be individually funded by the Local Health Integration Networks this year, funding normally allocated to the hospital for these procedures cannot flow from the LHIN to the private clinics given such clinics are outside the scope of the LHIN.
The transfer of endoscopies to private for-profit clinics also is in direct contradiction of the Ontario Health Minister’s commitment to transfer services to not-for-profit providers in the community.
Mehra also debunked the myth that the cuts to hospital services were merely part of a new reorganization of health care, noting the lack of funding support from Queen’s Park to home care over the last decade. Even with the recent funding increases, per patient funding is lower today than it was before the McGuinty Liberals took power in 2003.
“Either I pay taxes or have my mother live with me,” said Neil Brooks with a sly smile. Brooks, co-author of The Trouble With Billionaires (with Linda McQuaig) underlined the value of taxes during the keynote address at this year’s Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) Action Assembly Weekend.
Brooks said that as we shift the line between what’s public and what’s private, the cost to individuals rises as government services become far more expensive to replace privately.
The Action Assembly is the OHC’s annual meeting to plan priorities for the coming year as well as review the victories of the previous one.
November 17-18 the meeting hall at the University of Toronto’s Hart House was packed as health care activists travelled from across the province to meet.
Here are 10 insight moments from this year’s 2-day meeting:
1. Switzerland is a criminal state. Neil Brooks, a tax law professor at Osgoode Law School, said governments have begun to recognize how much money they are losing to tax havens that protect the wealthy from paying their fair share back in their country of residence. It is estimated that $20-$30 trillion is salted away in tax havens, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars to public treasuries. Brooks says more money is leaving Africa for tax havens than all foreign aid coming to the continent.
Neil Brooks, law professor and author.
2. Actor Michael Caine says increasing taxes on the wealthy amounts to government interference. But Brooks suggests that Caine is overlooking the copyright laws passed by the same government that secure his wealth. When it benefits the wealthy, it’s not interference or big government. As top marginal tax rates dramatically decreased in the last 30 years, so did the spread between income growth between the wealthy and the rest of us. Brooks says that with the massive number of films Caine has made, the odds would suggest some of them had to be good.
Posted in Ontario Health Coalition
Tagged Action Assembly Weekend, Canadian and American taxes, Don Drummond, Donna Metcalf Woo, Dr. Michael Rachlis, Ethel Meade, Gary Countess, Gary Engler, Hugh MacKenzie, Louis Rodriguez, Marlene Rivier, Michael Caine, Natalie Mehra, Neil Brooks, OHC Annual Meeting, Orville Thacker, Patty Park, Ron Walker, Ross Sutherland, Sara Williamson, Sue Hotte, The Year We Became Us, Trish McAuliffe
Dennis Howlett, coordinator of Canadians for Tax Fairness, will be at all three public health care forums this week in Eastern Ontario. The forums are hosted by the Ontario Health Coalition.
Given the focus on debt, deficit and public sector job cuts, much of the media coverage has overlooked the impact of the provincial budget on Ontario’s health care system. The March provincial budget slowed funding further than most had predicted, leading to concerns about longer waits, crowded ERs and the delisting of some health services.
As coordinator of CFTF, Howlett is building a national campaign to promote fair taxation. CFTF believes the tax system should be reformed to fund the comprehensive, high-quality network of public services and programs required to meet our social, economic and environmental needs in the 21st century.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Ann Clark, Canadians For Tax Fairness, Dennis Howlett, False Positive: Private Profit in Canada's Medical Laboratories, Kathleen Lahey, Marlene Rivier, Michael Hurley, Natalie Mehra, Queen's University, Ross Sutherland, Sara Labelle
While the media have portrayed health care as one of the winners of the spring budget season, the reality is the 2.1 per cent average increase in health funding over the next three years will represent major restraint on services. Last summer the Auditor General of Ontario described the previous target of 3.6 per cent as “aggressive” in his pre-election report, suggesting it would lead to a choice between hospital deficits and cuts to services.
The situation is particularly clouded for hospitals, which not only face a zero base budget, but are contending with a new funding formula that could see them receive even less than they did last year.
The Ontario Health Coalition is holding a series of town hall forums across the province in May and June to talk about the impact of the budget on the delivery of public health care.
Confirmed speakers include economist Hugh Mackenzie (Hugh Mackenzie and Associates), Dennis Howlett (Coordinator of Canadians for Tax Fairness), Trish Hennesey (Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Income Inequality Project) and Natalie Mehra (Director, Ontario Health Coalition).
Speakers from OPSEU so far include Sara Labelle (Chair, Health Care Divisional Council), Sandi Blancher (Vice-Chair, Hospital Professionals Division) and Marlene Rivier (President of Local 479, Royal Ottawa Health Group and Chair of the Ottawa Health Coalition.)
Speakers will vary by location.