Ontario’s fake healthcare solution: for-profit care

By Doug Allan 

In 2022-23, hospital funding in Ontario was cut by $156 million. For this year, budgeted funding for hospitals was $23,773,093,800, an increase of $115,458,800 or 0.488 percent over the 2022-23 Budget Estimates of $23,657,635,000.

In contrast, so called “Independent Health Facilities” (IHFs – private, for-profit surgical and diagnostic facilities) are budgeted to get a 212 percent increase from last year’s Budget Estimates. As shown in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 Estimates, IHF budgeted funding increased from $38,693,100 to $120,693,100. That is an increase of exactly $82 million, or 211.92 percent.

In dollar terms, they budgeted almost as much of an increase to the tiny IHF sector ($82 million as they did for the entire public hospital system ($115.5 million). It is a boom for private profits, even as the government implements harsh austerity for public hospitals.

While the government touts this privatization as a solution, this will, in fact, add little capacity. The increase budgeted (from $38.7 million to $120.7 million) sounds significant, but with hospitals operating on $30 billion in provincial government and other funding, the private facilities are too small to add significant capacity in the short or medium term.

Yet this is where the government has chosen to focus its energies, in the midst of a severe capacity crisis. This is, at best, an attempt at a diversion from the need to develop more capacity. True solutions lie elsewhere.

Healthcare capacity is in crisis now – service levels have declined, and the plan is to reduce capacity further. This fits with the attacks on living standards via housing and inflation, reducing living standards now at a faster rate than we have seen for many decades.

Capitalist rule is not delivering. Change is required.

[This is an excerpt from a longer analysis in our upcoming February 1-15, 2024 issue]

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