Deb Matthews may want to get out more.
We’ve previously noted that Ontario’s Health Minister has made far fewer public speeches than her predecessors. The Ministry’s on-line speech archive lists two speeches for Matthews this year, one for last year. There have been a total of five press releases issued during the summer months (June to August), most dealing with basic alerts, such as reminding Ontarians to protect themselves from West Nile virus.
For a government intent on radically remaking the health system, there appears to be very little coming out of the Minister’s office. The effects are telling in a recent poll around the province’s long waited health action plan.
When the Local Health Integration Networks were formed, the province was charged with developing an overall health strategy. This was supposed to be the basis for the LHINs own integrated health service plans.
In March Deb Matthews told the media that 36 hospitals will have their budgets cut by as much as three per cent when this year’s new hospital funding formula rolls out.
This week the Ministry held a technical briefing and remarkably told its labour stakeholders that in year one about 10 per cent of hospitals will see increases in funding no greater than 1.8 per cent and decreases no greater than 1.5 per cent.
They also state that 90 per cent of hospitals will see less than a one per cent difference in their budget allocation, plus or minus.
Back in March 91 hospitals were expected to “benefit” from the new formula. Now the Ministry says only 90 hospitals will participate – small rural and northern hospitals being excluded from the Health Based Activity Model (HBAM).
That’s a big difference.
What is Peterborough PC candidate Allan Wilson talking about?
In a Peterborough Examiner survey of local candidates, Wilson said he had been speaking to people working in the health care sector who have complained that the Ministry of Health has increased 80 per cent over the past few years with little results for patients.
Wilson says the PCs would subsequently get rid of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and “right-size” the Ministry of Health.
In 2007 OPSEU represented more than 5,000 signed members who worked at the Ministry of Health. Today those numbers are about 2,500. That’s not an 80 per cent increase, that’s a 50 per cent cut.
The LHINs are far from ideal, but they do perform the task of local planning, including the gathering of performance data. They do fund small local projects and undertake consulting, even if they don’t always listen. And they do put providers on the carpet when they fail to bring their budget into balance. With the Ministry already cut in half, one wonders how an even further reduced administration would take on these tasks under the Tories?