Tag Archives: Ontario Election

Who’s values will prevail on Thursday?

Whoever shows up to the polls tomorrow may determine Ontario’s next Premier and whether she or he enjoys a majority or minority government.

The question is, will that be decided by a majority of Ontarians, or will it reflect a different set of values decided upon by a much more motivated minority?

We do know that turnout to the advance polls was six per cent lower than last time, when the current minority government was decided by less than half of the eligible voters.

Worst still, according to ThreeHundredEight.com, only about one in four eligible voters admit that they have been following the election closely.

All you have to do is look around your community to observe so many fewer election signs.

That’s frightening given what is at stake.

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Election 2014: Economist says “jobs candidate” would begin by cutting 165,000 of them

PC leader Tim Hudak has wrapped himself in the persona of being the jobs candidate. He claims that his government would create a million jobs in Ontario – a 15 per cent increase to the existing 6.9 million jobs (full-time, part-time, casual) that existed in 2013. Jobs are important, especially in the context of the social determinants of health, but the PC party platform would need to create closer to 1.2 million jobs to offset those it would first kill through cuts to the public sector and its subsequent spin-off impact on the private sector.

There have been many economists who have found the million jobs promise more than just a stretch. Just because you say something doesn’t make it true. The PCs believe if you say it a lot, it will make it so. Unifor economist Jim Stanford, writing this week in the Progressive Economics Forum, says to meet that challenge the economy would have to “significantly accelerate” real growth in excess of 3 per cent annually. There are times when we have done that – most recently in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but that isn’t sustained and consecutive growth.

Stanford notes eliminating the provincial deficit would negatively impact the economy by 2.4 per cent, which is a big hole to dig out of, especially if you plan on rushing that objective. What would a 2.4 per cent reduction in GDP mean for jobs? According to Stanford, en route to his million jobs promise Hudak would start by eliminating about 165,000 jobs in the province.

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Looking for an all-candidate meeting?

The Ontario Health Coalition has organized a series of all-candidate forums across the province. Find one near you!

TODAY: St Catharines
Tuesday, September 20th at 7pm
Port Dalhousie Legion, 600 Ontario St

TODAY: Guelph
In association with the Guelph Wellington Coalition for Social Justice
Tuesday, September 20th at 7:30pm
Italian Canadian Club, 135 Ferguson St

Friday, September 23rd at 7pm
Market Hall, 140 Charlotte St
Note: The date of this meeting has recently changed from Wednesday September 21st to Friday September 23rd. Please make note of this as the previous date was already published.

Tuesday, September 27th at 7pm
Welland Lion’s Hall, 414 River Road

Niagara Falls
Thursday, September 22nd at 7pm
Gale Centre, 4171 Fourth Ave

London North
Tuesday, September 27th at 7pm to 10 pm,
A.B. Lucas Secondary School, 656 Tennent Avenue
Parking on Street

Tuesday, September 27th at 7pm
Oak’s Inn, 80 McNaughton Ave, Wallaceburg

In association with the RNAO
Tuesday, October 4th at 7pm
Grace United Church, 581 Howden St

Thursday, Sept. 22nd at 7 pm
D. Roy Kennedy Public School, 919 Woodroffe Avenue

In partnership with Canadian Association of Retired People
Thursday September 27th at 6:30 pm
Belleville Fish and Game Club, 170 Elmwood Drive, Belleville.
Focus to be on seniors’ health issues.

Thursday September 29th at 7:00 pm
Regent Theatre, 224 Picton Main Street

Wednesday September 21st at 7:00 pm
North Kingston Community Health Center, 400 Elliot Avenue
Focusing on women’s health issues.

In Association with the Health Care Providers of Leeds and Grenville
Tuesday September 27 at 4:30pm,
Brockville Arts Centre

Election 2011: Liberal health platform focuses on home supports

The McGuinty Liberals released their long-awaited campaign platform on Labour Day, focussing on education promises while mostly extolling the virtues of their health care record.

However, when it comes to health care, the Liberals are not shy about reminding voters of what happened under the last PC government: “Ontario surgical wait-times used to be the longest in Canada,” the platform states. “The last PC government closed 28 hospitals and fired 6,200 nurses. Many Ontarians didn’t have a family doctor.”

The Liberals are promising to “keep seniors out of emergency rooms and hospital beds by keeping them healthy, in their homes and with loved ones.” The platform includes three million new hours of home care and $60 million to increase house calls by doctors and other health professionals. They also plan to provide “Health Care Coordinators” who will “facilitate care between specialists and family doctors, hospitals and the community to help seniors who’ve been hospitalized within the previous 12 months.” The platform also includes tax credits up to $1,500 to renovate homes to make them more accessible for the frail and elderly, protect jobs for up to eight weeks if an individual should need to provide family caregiver leave, and provide money for research into Alzheimers and dementia.

They say they are “redesigning Ontario’s primary care and homecare system,” although it is not clear what that means.

The Liberals may have noticed our summer television campaign as they remembered to add to their promises the need to train more doctors, nurses, and health professionals.

No specific targets are mentioned.

Every person in the province will have access to a personalized on-line Cancer Risk Profile which uses your medical and family history to measure the risk of cancer. The system promises to match people to screening programs and prevention supports, such as genetic testing for high-risk people.

The Liberals will also create a Council on Childhood Obesity whose goal will be a 20 per cent reduction of the childhood obesity rate within five years. Part of the plan will be a health snack program in schools. They also plan to use tax credits towards children’s activities.

Given the attention to mental health in recent years, it is disappointing to see no more than the existing status quo which will focus only on children’s mental health over the next three years. The present mental health strategy lacks any longer term goals despite earlier promises of a 10-year strategy. Ontario remains an embarrassment on mental health. Mental Health makes up 5.4 cents of the health care dollar, well below the 8 cents recommended by the World Health Organization.

The Liberal platform doesn’t make any funding projections for health care, although the auditor’s pre-election report confirmed their target of 3.6 per cent per year over the next three years, more than the Tories promise of 3 per cent annually, but considerably less than the pattern set over the last eight years.

The platform is also silent on the future of the Local Health Integration Networks, which the NDP plan to replace and the PCs plan to cut.

Other articles about party platforms:

PCs – Tim Hudak wants you to compete for the job you already have

NDP – NDP platform takes on dysfunctional home care system

Greens – Greens to review LHINs

NDP says they’ll scrap $45 ambulance fee

The Ontario NDP say they would scrap the $45 fee paid by patients for ambulance services.

Leader Andrea Horwath said patients shouldn’t have to think twice about dialing 911 during an emergency.

More than two-thirds ofOntario’s ambulance trips require a user co-pay of $45. Ontario Works recipients, long term care home residents, individuals with disabilities or who are receiving home care are presently exempt from paying the fee.

Horwath says her own mother has thought twice about calling for a ride when she needed one.

“We have an aging population, there’s more and more seniors who are going to be in need of that kind of service,” she told the Canadian Press. “I think it’s something that’s going to take a load off their mind.”

The NDP say scrapping the fees will cost $30 million per year, something Dalton McGuinty has already dismissed, saying families have other health care priorities.

Prince Edward Island removed the fee in 2009 and New Brunswick is in the process of removing their ambulance charges.

Jamie Ramage, Chair of OPSEU’s ambulance sector, says he supports the idea, noting the $45 fee means the most marginalized individuals may be reluctant to call when they need assistance.

The NDP plan to reveal their full election platform June 24. Ontarians go the polls October 6.

New site allows Ontarians to define health care issues

The Ontario Health Coalition is using social media to allow Ontarians to define their own health care issues in the coming provincial election.

The new “pledge” web site has been up for less than a day and already comments are flooding in on the three-phase on-line project.

Phase 1 of the project invites Ontarians to visit www.votehealthontario.ca and share what they believe to be the key health care issues and experiences. Phase 1 takes place through the month of June.

Phase 2 invites Ontarians to return and vote for their priorities from a summary list generated from Phase 1. This will take place in July and August.

Phase 3 the Coalition will ask Ontarians to take a pledge to help make these priorities key health care election issues. Candidates will be able to see how many people in each electoral riding have taken the pledge. If thousands of Ontarians join in, political parties will be compelled to make clear commitments on these issues. This last phase takes place in late August and early September.

“Lip service to health care is not enough,” says Natalie Mehra, Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “Ontarians need clear commitments on the key issues that matter in our communities.”

Make your priorities known now at www.votehealthontario.ca

PC Platform: Tim Hudak wants you to compete for the job you have

Tim Hudak is no longer the mystery man. The question is, now that his Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) platform is out there, will it matter?

Hudak has made it clear that he intends to make public sector workers a target, including workers in health care.

“We will introduce initiatives requiring public sector unions to compete for government contracts, where appropriate,” the Tory Changebook states. “If another organization – whether a non-profit group or private business – can provide better value for money, taxpayers deserve to benefit.”

The platform goes on to suggest support services “like food preparation or laundry” in our “public institutions” are a prime example where he expects these competitions to take place.

If you are spared the competition, you may not have your next contract fairly arbitrated. Hudak plans to challenge the independence of the arbitrators, claiming recent awards have been “excessive.”

“We will require arbitrators to respect the ability of taxpayers to pay and take into account local circumstances,” the document states.

Changebook claims the Tories will “bring public sector paycheques in line with private sector standards.”

Specific to health care, Changebook makes the same promise as the McGuinty Liberals when it comes to funding – reduce increases to three per cent per year.

Hudak promises a review of all agencies and commissions, but would axe the LHINs before that even takes place. He would not replace the LHINs, which raises questions about how health care planning, local funding, and community engagement will take place. He says he will redirect the $70 million per year from closing the LHINs into front line care. At present Ontario spends $47 billion on public health care.

The Tories say they will add 5,000 new long term care beds and increase investments in home care to “give families more control over services.” That includes the ability to stay with the provider they have now, or pick a new government-funded home care provider who better meets their individual needs. Given the Tories have supported competitive bidding in home care, it is unclear whether an individual will be able to maintain their provider after they have lost the CCAC contract. While the Tories promise to increase investments in home care, they also promise to find savings at the CCACs.

Hudak says he will clamp down on fraud, but the only specific promise is to demand that people using the old red and white health cards also present another form of government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

Unlike the Federal NDP, which promised more doctors and nurses, the Tories only claim to add to the number of doctors by increasing residency placements for medical students from Ontario who have pursued their education outside Canada. They call upon doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to work collaboratively, particularly in underserviced areas. There is no mention of the other health professions integral to the public health system.

Like the McGuinty Liberals, the Tories vow to be as obsessive about measuring health outcomes and “introducing a rigorous system of patient satisfaction.” Do we read that as even more patient satisfaction forms to fill out? And how does this square with the promise to reduce bureaucracy?

The Tories say they will make it law that the province cannot raise taxes without a clear mandate. Unfortunately, it is silent on needing the same to cut taxes, particularly for corporations.

They also promise to expand the scope of Freedom of Information, but it is not clear how.

The Tories have already come under fire for their spending commitments and tax cuts. The normally conservative Ottawa Citizen called it the “common nonsense revolution,” comparing Hudak’s plans to reckless debt run up by U.S. President George Bush. “Unlike Bush,” writes Citizen editorial board member Ken Gray, “Premier Dalton McGuinty has required Ontarians to pay for the services they receive for which his government has been dubbed ‘tax and spend’ by people who would rather spend, borrow and pay interest.”

“Hudak’s election platform is the kind of document that made Greece the model of fiscal prudence it is today,” writes Gray.

September rally to demand health care commitments

Public health care usually ranks at the top of voter priority issues. It is also an issue that politicians are reluctant to talk about during the heat of an election. All three parties carry health care baggage from their time in government.

The Rae NDP government accelerated the privatization of community labs and created Rae days which increased overtime costs in hospitals. The Harris/Eves Tory government froze health care funding and introduce the disastrous policy of competitive bidding to home care. The McGuinty Liberals have closed ERs and pressured hospitals to empty hospital beds without providing sufficient alternate care in the community.

The Liberals and Tories are now promising to reduce health care spending increases to three per cent per year. Tim Hudak wants to eliminate the LHINs but offers no replacement for planning, funding, and community consultation. He also wants to contract out support services in our hospitals. The NDP have yet to reveal their health care platform. All this is taking place as governments prepare for a new age of austerity.

Regardless of the baggage they carry in to the election, voters need to demand a vision of where health care is going from all parties. It’s not just about shovelling funding into the system.

The Ontario Health Coalition is hoping that enough people show up in the streets of Toronto September 13th to send a message that political candidates cannot ignore. During this election we really do want to talk about health care.

The rally to safeguard public health care is being scheduled at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, September 13 at 12 Noon. While most rallies are aimed at the government of the day, this rally is a message to all parties that it is time for improved and equitable access to comprehensive health care across all of our communities.

Health care workers may want to schedule their shifts to be able to come to Toronto on that date. For workers along University Avenue and near Queen’s Park, the rally offers an ability to come out during lunch time and cheer the rally on.

Watch for more details in the coming months.

Meanwhile, please download the attached rally poster and share it with anyone you know who is interested in defending our public Medicare system.