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Health care: More money, or an overhaul?

Health care: More money, or an overhaul?

The Care Economy Group is a healthcare policy think tank made up of academics and individuals, some with ties to the union movement. Nobody would accuse the Care Economy Group of being right-wing. But, in an opinion piece in the Toronto Star, Pat Armstrong, Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Laurell Ritchie and Armine Yalnizyan argue that the federal government should not give one cent of additional healthcare cash to the provinces unless the provinces can show clear plans to deal with the systemic problems facing health care in Canada.

The editorial is the latest in a growing number of voices who are acknowledging that throwing more money at health care does not necessarily make it better.

Joy Richards is the former Chief Nursing Executive at the University Health Network. She’s now Vice President of Health Education Development at UHN, and Executive in Residence at the Michener Institute.

In a CBC interview, she suggested the people currently running the system may not be the right ones to be fixing it. She told interviewer Ismalia Alfa, “the leadership in health care understandably are exhausted…but it takes a different kind of energy to start thinking creatively and start thinking about what the future could look like. I would like to see a wide variety of stakeholders come together with the ability to focus on what might the solutions look like . What would be best for patients and staff? I think there needs to be a different discourse but we need to have different people who aren’t so exhausted thinking about this.”

A single CEO in a large Ontario hospital earns more money than the province’s Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister combined. Dr. Brian Day, Past President, Canadian Medical Association posted a tweet, referring to an unnamed  BC hospital, asking the rhetorical question, “if a hospital needs 11 Vice Presidents, how does the United States manage with just one?” (He’s referring to the country, not the US hospital system.)

Canada is in the top five of G7 countries when it comes to the percentage of GDP spent on Health care. We are spending almost $6,700 for every man, woman and child. The US leads the pack with almost 17 percent of GDP going to Health Care or $13,000 per person, and yet you hear nobody saying that the US system is the one we should be emulating.

Ontario’s Health Minister Sylvia Jones was hammered by critics last week for suggesting the government is exploring “innovation and opportunities” in Ontario and is considering changes to the health system. She made it clear health care would still be paid for by the government, but suggested the private sector might be able to deliver some services more cost-effectively.

If anybody wants to argue that efficiencies can’t be found in our health care system, look at the system’s continued reliance on the fax machine—a device that anyone under 21 year of age would not even recognize.

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