Excerpted from a statement by the Ontario Health Coalition on the health agreement between the First Ministers and the feds.
The worst things in this agree ment are the things our premier and the other First Ministers didn't do:
PRIVATIZATION - The fact that the First Ministers dodged the question of privatization was likely the worst feature.
Over the two days of public negotiations, Dalton McGuinty did not once mention stopping privatization or support for public delivery. There is nothing in the final agreement that will protect Ontarians from privatized P3 (public-private partnership) hospitals, private for-profit diagnostic clinics, privatized home care and competitive bidding. The lack of discussion about the enforcement of the Canada Health Act reinforces the feds' current lack of protection for the universality, comprehensiveness, portability and accessibility of the health system. This deal will not restore the services that have been taken off the OHIP list, including audiology, physiotherapy, optometry and chiropractic.
MONEY WITH NO STRINGS - There is very little targeted money in this deal, and no enforcement mechanisms. In addition, the amount targeted to home care and drug coverage was so little ($500 million across the country) as to be more of a public relations exercise than a real establishment of new programs.
However, there is a significant increase in the health transfer. This will increase the amount of funding in Ontario.
HOME CARE AND SHRINKING OF MEDICARE - With the closure of tens of thousands of hospital beds in Ontario over the past two decades and the shift of care into the community, many patients have been moved out from under the umbrella of the Canada Health Act, which covers hospital and physician services. (Note: many argue that the act should be interpreted to cover the home care services that are really "hospitals without walls"). It is important that home care must be covered by the CHA.
PHARMACARE - The small amount of money targeted to pharmacare across the country will make no noticeable impact in Ontario.
Like other provinces, we already have a drug program, the Trillium Drug Plan, that provides coverage for listed drugs on a means-tested basis. This agreement will not improve this plan and does not cover it with the principles of the Canada Health Act that would have ensured it was not means-tested and would have stopped requirements for up-front or co-payments.
WAITING TIMES - We are concerned because this issue can be used by right-wing advocates of a two-tier health system to destroy public health care. The crisis rhetoric regarding wait times is used by those with vested interests in privatization to push for clear "benchmarks" for waiting times, so (people will be forced) to pay out of pocket to jump the queue if these are not met. firstname.lastname@example.org