New report claims Ford government is pushing private health care


“Robbing the public to build the private”. That is the titular claim of a report released last week by the Ontario Health Coalition which suggests that Doug Ford’s provincial government is starving Ontario’s health care system on purpose. Why? To push an agenda of increased for-profit health care. 

“Ontario’s public hospitals enjoy overwhelming support from the population,” the February 21 report says. “As such, their privatization could not be accomplished unless they were dismantled, under-resourced, and unable to provide for their communities, and that is exactly what is happening.”

The report specifically claims that human and financial resources which should be allocated to our public hospitals and clinics are instead being given to “private for-profit clinics and hospitals”. The funding increase for hospitals and clinics did not meet the rate of inflation in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 budgets. Health and personal care cost inflation was between 3.3% – 6.9%, while overall health care funding increased by just 1.5%. Private clinics, in contrast, had a 212% funding increase in the same period, which the report asserts “could not be more stark” of a difference. The fact that wage increases have been capped at 1% per year for public hospital staff is also argued as a serious double standard in the report, given that for-profit healthcare staffing agencies that supply nurses to hospitals received a 70% increase in funding in the previous year. 

The report compiles data that will not come as a surprise to many readers – there were 868 temporary or permanent emergency department closures between January 1 and November 24 of last year, and 316 hospital urgent care centre closures during the same period. It is further noted that many hospitals have operating rooms that are not used and therefore wasted. 

The report makes many strong claims, saying, for example: “Not only do for-profit clinics get funded at a much higher rate per procedure from our public tax dollars, they also maximize their profits by extra-billing patients and charging user fees, even though it is unlawful to do so. In addition, they ‘upsell’ medically unnecessary tests and services to patients, often using manipulative tactics to do so.”

While the claims within the report are big, they are backed by evidence, both statistical and anecdotal. Local area residents have been experiencing health care shortages firsthand for over a year, including hospital waiting room closures, and difficulty securing a family doctor. Wait times have noticeably increased at some hospitals and clinics, and there has been a push from some opinion writers toward the privatization of health care to lessen the burden on public health care. 

Many large media organizations were reporting on the Ontario Health Coalition report the day that it was released. As of time of writing, the Ford government had not responded to the claims made in the report.


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