Frank Klees

Frankly Speaking

 

October 2, 2008

 

Unfair Consequences of Health Care Funding Gap

 

"I was told I may have cancer, but I can't get in to see a specialist for at least two months.”

 

The constituent who recently shared this concern with me is not alone. I hear almost daily about agonizing wait times for health care.  Despite the McGuinty health tax, access to medical services in York Region is getting worse, not better. And here's why:

 

York Region receives much less provincial funding for hospital and health care services compared to the average of the rest of Ontario. We receive $232 less per resident for hospital funding alone with the result that our local hospitals are under-funded by more than $290 million each year compared to other regions across Ontario.

 

But it's not just our hospitals that are under-funded. When compared to the other 14 designated health care regions in the province, we are the 4th lowest funded for homecare services, the 4th lowest funded for mental health services, the lowest funded for addiction services, the 3rd lowest funded for long- term residential care for our seniors. For total health care funding, we are the second lowest funded for all health care services in the province.

 

That's why we need action now and that's why I will continue to make this issue a priority in the fall session of the Legislature. In fact, on the first day back, I reminded the new Minister of Health and Long Term Care of our health care funding crisis.  I pointed out that York Region will account for 18% of the GTA's growth over the next three years and that each year our local hospitals and health care services will have to serve an additional 29,466 new residents.

 

The current policy of the McGuinty government that consists of politically expedient crisis-funding announcements will only widen the funding gap and cause us to fall further behind the rest of Ontario. 

 

And that’s why I took the opportunity to point out the Premier’s hypocrisy in tabling a motion in the legislature that called on the federal government “to ensure Ontario is treated fairly” by Ottawa when it comes to health care funding.  I supported the Premier’s motion, but also called on him to apply the same “fairness principle” when he and his health minister distribute Ontario’s $40 billion health budget.  I asked him how he can, on the one hand, insist on fairness from Ottawa and on the other, allow his own health ministry to perpetuate the widening funding gap between York Region and the rest of the province.

 

So what's the answer? First, hospitals in high growth communities like Newmarket-Aurora need much more growth funding than the McGuinty Liberals are providing. Second, and most important, is the need to implement a new population-based funding model for health care. This will ensure that provincial health care funding is objectively allocated according to the needs of the community. This is the only way to ensure reliable and sustainable funding for health care services.  It will also ensure that health care funding decisions are placed "beyond politics.”

 

Many residents of Newmarket and Aurora have already shared with me their stories about accessing health care services. And as always, I invite your comments and questions on this or any other issue of interest to you. Please feel free to call me on my direct line at 416 509 8999 or by email at frankklees.com.