Tag Archives: Ontario Health Coalition

Promises to fix long term care tepid despite 29 violent deaths

We hope they will take time to remember the 29.

Diablogue Election Primer graphicToday the Ontario Health Coalition is launching their rocking chair tour across the province to draw attention to the lack of staffing in the province’s nursing homes.

Lack of staffing means missed baths, long waits in soiled incontinent pads, rushed feedings and too little time to pause for a friendly bit of conversation with a frail and often isolated senior. It also means danger.

Between 2003 and 2012 there were 29 seniors killed in resident-on-resident assaults in Ontario’s nursing homes.

Last year it was Francisco DaSilva and Jocelyn Dickson. He was age 87, she 72.

There are numerous remedies that have been proposed, including better staff training and specialized facilities for persons with cognitive impairment.

Every report that has looked at the situation has come back with a recommendation to increase staffing in these homes.

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Libs say budget “platform for next 30 days” after NDP vows to pull the plug

Well that was quick.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told the media this morning that she cannot support the Wynne budget, or more specifically, the Wynne government.

Horwath’s remarks suggested it wasn’t so much about the content of yesterday’s budget, but about trust in the present government.

A June 12 provincial election has now been set.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli told the Ottawa Citizen this morning “this budget is our platform for the next 30 days.”

The Liberals wasted no time in going on the attack, revealing their strategy to brand PC Leader Tim Hudak as representing the values of the U.S. Tea Party and accusing Horwath of bringing “zero policy forward.”

Horwath noted that the Wynne government had not delivered on past promises, including fixing home care and establishing a Financial Accountability Office.

Yesterday OPSEU President Warren Smokey Thomas had called upon Horwath to pull the plug on the two-and-a-half year-old minority government, calling the spring budget a “wholesale transfer of wealth from the public to the corporate sector.”

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The Lang-Jimbo Reality Show? CBC may be missing its moment

Economist "Jimbo" Stanford speaking Sunday morning at the Ontario Health Coalition conference.

Economist “Jimbo” Stanford speaking Sunday morning at the Ontario Health Coalition conference.

Somebody suggested that the CBC would be a far more interesting place if the Lang-O’Leary Exchange morphed into the Lang-Jimbo Reality Show.

Now that’s a CBC we might be inclined to fight a little harder to protect.

There are not many economists who would take on the moniker of “Jimbo,” but Jim Stanford doesn’t shy away from it. Speaking at the Ontario Health Coalition weekend conference at the Toronto Sheraton Centre, the Unifor economist and founder of the Progressive Economics Forum was in high spirits.

“An economist is someone who is good with numbers but hasn’t the personality to be an accountant,” he told the crowd with a big wide grin. Don’t be fooled, “Jimbo” has personality to spare.

With a Master’s degree from Cambridge and a Phd from New York’s New School for Social Research, Stanford doesn’t come across as pedantic. Early Sunday morning he finds ways to convey complex economic principles clearly to a mixed community audience of under-caffeinated seniors, labour and young people interested in health care advocacy.

Stanford has been doing this for much of his career, including writing Economics for Everyone: A short guide to the economics of capitalism. That textbook has become a staple for those who wish to know more about how economics work in order to take on the issues of the day.

“Health care (costs) are going up because we are aging and we are willing to pay more,” he said this weekend. Stanford explained that it’s rational that Canadians would want to take advantage of new technologies that would extend their lives or improve the quality of life.

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Make history — meet us in Niagara-on-the-lake July 24-25

Shadow-Summit-and-RallyIt’s the last meeting of the provincial Premiers before the 10-year 2004 health accord expires. With the expiry of that accord, so too goes any concerted effort to implement a national strategy to fix health care.

July 24-25 the Premiers will get together at Niagara-on-the-Lake. We’ll be there too alongside community and labour representatives from across Canada gathered to send a united message that a public health strategy is essential to address the changing needs of our nation.

In fact, with no accord past 2014, there won’t be national targets for such issues as wait times, emergency room access, or coverage for catastrophic drug costs. Nor will the Health Council of Canada be in existence to monitor those targets. The Harper government has already said the Health Council will be dismantled with the end of the accord.

Download the registration form here: Shadow Summit Registration Form

Details re Toronto Region 5 bus to the rally at right.

While the Federal government is the fifth largest direct provider of public health care in Canada, they oddly don’t think they have a place at the table when it comes to deciding how to best support the health needs of everyone in this country.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has told the provinces they will continue to get six per cent increases in federal health transfers until after the next election. Then the funding will slide up and down with the economy – essentially reducing funding at precisely the moments when it is most needed.

Our Medicare system is basically the same one that came into being in 1966. It’s heavily focused on acute care delivery – the definition of essential health care mostly confined to doctors and hospitals.

The reality is our population is aging and health care needs are changing. So are the places from which health care is delivered. We have great need for better chronic and long-term care. We need to move beyond the patchwork systems of home care, something former Royal Commissioner Roy Romanow called the next essential service. This spring the movement for universal public drug coverage has been gathering steam as the analysis shows that Pharmacare could save billions of dollars in health care costs. Last year a national mental health strategy was unveiled — it will take considerable political will to get it implemented.

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Home care – it’s critical we get it right this time

Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres could have been very different had events unfolded differently in the early 1990s.

At the beginning of that decade home care was considered to have more of a leg in social services than health care.

The Rae government, like those that followed, were attempting to transition services from hospital to community and realized the potential of home care to look after patients discharged early from hospital.

The NDP were also sensitive to complaints that health care policies were being decided by the provider community, not by the users of the system. To that end, they not only encouraged widespread consultation, but even funded groups – particularly those representing seniors and the disabled – to speak to their communities and report back on what they heard.

That process was massive, involving more than 75,000 people, 110 provincial associations, 1,800 submissions and nearly 3,000 public meetings – all taking place within a five month window.

While the previous Peterson government had preferred more of a brokerage model – similar to today’s CCAC model which contracts to for-profit and not-for-profit agencies – the consultation process demonstrated that there was little appetite for a system most believed to be bureaucratic and fragmented.

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Transferring hospital services to private clinics — a line in the sand

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).

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.

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Video: Kingston is “Voting in the Streets”

It had all the trappings of an election — lawn signs, leaflets, TV commercials, media coverage and an army of volunteers knocking on doors. This vote, however, wasn’t run by any level of government but by a group of citizens opposed to the privatization of a new public rehab and psychiatric hospital planned for Kingston.

The government plan calls not only for the design and building of the new hospital by the private sector, but also adds in a costly 30-year financing deal and long-term maintenance into the package. It is the latter two elements that are controversial and are generating public opposition to the deal. The Kingston Health Coalition estimates developing this new hospital using the discredited public-private partnership model will add $100 million to the cost. That’s $100 million that won’t be applied to other needed public services — including the care provided within the walls of that hospital.

Almost 10,000 Kingston residents came out to vote April 13 on the plan. 96% said yes when asked if they were in favour of keeping the proposed new Kingston rehab/psychiatric hospital entirely public.

While non-binding, the vote sends a clear message to Queen’s Park that Ontarians expect their public infrastructure to remain in public hands.

On April 13th we were there! Watch our video by clicking on the window above.

Kingston votes 96 per cent against hospital privatization

Kingston City Council's Jim Neill urges residents to vote on Princess Street.

Kingston City Council’s Jim Neill urges residents to vote on Princess Street.

It had all the trappings of an election. There were lawn signs, TV commercials, and door-to-door campaigners. The local media solicited the views of both politicians and citizens as everyone scrambled to become informed before the vote.

Saturday Kingston residents got the opportunity to express their preference on whether a proposed new hospital facility in their community was going to be entirely public or be under a 30-year finance and maintenance contract with a private for-profit consortium.

While this election wasn’t conducted by Elections Ontario or Elections Canada, it had the feeling of being the real deal. Citizens were given the opportunity by the Ontario Health Coalition to consider a private or public option even if the result will be non-binding.

After five weeks of public debate, the answer was clear. 96% of the 9,885 votes cast at more than 50 polling stations said yes to keep the new hospital entirely public.

We have had one “official” election on this issue before. In the 2003 provincial election Dalton McGuinty opposed privatizing public infrastructure, campaigning against two “public-private partnership” (P3) hospital deals set up by then Premier Ernie Eves.

Like the results in Kingston, in 2003 the public instinctively bridled against the idea of privatizing key elements of Ontario’s public infrastructure. It helped give McGuinty the first of his two back-to-back majorities. Ontarians were already aware of what a bad deal the province got from privatizing Highway 407. They were worried about the impact of deregulation and privatization of electric power, particularly after a devastating outage in August of that year that took out much of the continental northeast.

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A tale of two LHINs – Champlain could learn from Central East when it comes to community involvement

In the past few weeks we have been challenging the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to step up to the plate around cuts and transfers of services from The Ottawa Hospital.

Champlain LHIN CEO Chantale LeClerc has dug herself in for the fight, insisting that considerable changes to health service delivery in her region do not warrant an integration decision nor any additional public consultation.

Curiously, in her most recent letters to both OPSEU and the Ontario Health Coalition, she has suggested that regional volumes of endoscopies have not yet been decided and that the LHIN has no mechanism to transfer them outside of a hospital environment (LHINs have no jurisdiction over private clinics performing public OHIP work).

The Ottawa Hospital CEO Jack Kitts is publicly stating the hospital will perform 4,000 fewer endoscopies per year (initially it was 5,000 fewer) and that it was his expectation that these volumes would be picked up by independent community-based clinics and other regional hospitals.

Clearly the hospital CEO and the LHIN CEO are not on the same page even though the LHIN is telling us the hospital is merely following its accountability agreement.

Endoscopies will be coming under what are called “Quality Based Procedures” for the coming year. These QBP get funded separately from hospital global budgets. That means if The Ottawa Hospital decides to stop doing 4,000 endoscopies, it also stops getting funding for them. Unless TOH is losing money on these procedures, it doesn’t suggest that such cuts will do anything to aid their bottom line – the whole point of this “restructuring.” Until we know where these procedures are migrating to (if anywhere), we have no idea whether the region will be saving any money or whether the public will be maintaining access.

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Is competitive bidding in home care done? Let’s hope so.

September 10 Doris Grinspun, executive director of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, tweeted that Health Minister Deb Matthews had just announced to a nursing meeting that the moratorium on competitive bidding in home care would be made permanent. No formal confirmation of this announcement has been made by the Ministry of Health.

No services competition has successfully taken place since 2004 when then Health Minister George Smitherman announced the appointment of Elinor Caplan to conduct a review into the competitive bidding process.

The Caplan review followed months of campaigning in the Niagara region after the Victorian Order of Nurses had lost the local home care nursing contract during its centenary in the community. OPSEU-represented VON members had met with MPPs up and down the Niagara peninsula to point out problems with the competition.

The union complained that the bidding process had been tainted by the then Niagara CCAC administrator who told at least one patient in advance of the competition that VON would not be a successful bidder.

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