Doug Ford’s private health care plan is the beginning of the end of Medicare, critics charge

Against new health reform legislation from the Ford government, opposition parties say more for-profit clinics mean care will become more expensive as thousands of surgeries and diagnoses are pulled from hospitals to alleviate the long waiting lists.

Prime Minister Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones were on the defensive Wednesday over the proposed Your Health Act, which would clear the way for more for-profit clinics to provide cataract and other surgeries and diagnoses such as CT scans. and MRIs, all paid for by OHIP.

New Democratic leader Marit Stiles has accused the government of using the “crisis” in hospitals as an excuse to expand for-profit care with “investor-driven, two-tier” clinics that will provide a mix of care, some covered for provincial health and some do not

Jones said expanding the involvement of more for-profit and non-profit clinics in Ontario’s health care is the best recipe for addressing increased wait times during the COVID-19 pandemic and freeing up hospitals for more complex.

“Innovation is not a dirty word,” he told MPPs in the legislature’s question period a day after the law was introduced, noting that there are for-profit providers in Ontario’s health care system, which include X-ray clinics, medical laboratories and some ophthalmologists. clinics

The government is “expanding what already exists… to better serve the patient.”

The government plan, first announced in January, calls for using private clinics in Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa to perform thousands more cataract surgeries this year, cutting waiting lists by months with patients paying with their OHIP cards for basic glasses.

Hip and knee replacements could be performed in private clinics starting next year to “take the burden off hospitals,” Ford said.

But rival parties insisted that allowing the number of for-profit clinics to grow is a dangerous step.

Jones will solicit applications for clinics, either for-profit or not-for-profit, later this year to meet local demand for services across the province, concentrating on areas where waiting lists are longest. It is not known how many new clinics will be approved.

“I agree, we have to be innovative,” said Liberal MPP Dr. Adil Shamji (Don Valley East), an emergency room doctor. “That, to me, does not equate to speculation, that does not equate to the corporatization of our health care system.”

Shamji said this is why a Liberal campaign promise in last June’s provincial election called for more non-profit clinics to ease pressure on hospitals.

“We are not against the idea in principle. What we oppose is speculation and creating a track for corporate interests to come in and sell more to patients, charge them more.”

Stiles said built-in markups given to private clinics will take money out of healthcare that could otherwise be used by the public system, and called on the government to provide more funding to hospitals to open unused operating rooms.

“I think it’s the beginning of the dismantling of Medicare,” he said of the government plan. “It is the two-tier health care facility in this province…a system where some people will be able to pay for a different type of access or a different level of care than other people.”

For the Greens, party leader Mike Schreiner argued that “expanding health care for profit will cost us more and deliver less.”

Proponents of moving certain surgeries and diagnostic procedures from hospitals say specialized clinics can treat more patients quickly at lower cost, with shorter turnaround times between patients.


The conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.

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