Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grit, Grit, same old shit - Ontario Liberals cut healthcare starting from very first 2004 budget

Here’s a little bit of babble from Liberal Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, made during the introduction of his first budget, when he announced the hated Liberal Health Tax (May 18, 2004, from the Ontario Legislative Assembly):

“We will be acting, as well, to ensure we have the doctors and nurses we need. By 2007-08, the number of assessment and training positions for international medical graduates will double. So will the number of clinical education spaces for nurse practitioners. Over the next four years, we will create 8,000 new full-time nursing positions. To protect nurses on the job today from injury, we will purchase 12,000 bed lifts for hospitals and long-term-care facilities in this very year. But most importantly, we will treat our nurses and all health care practitioners with respect.

These initiatives signal a substantial reorientation of health care toward a patient-focused, results-driven system that is sustainable. There will be more hospital beds available sooner for important procedures because more patients will be treated in home and community care. Changing the system will shorten wait times. So will the investments I have announced for those procedures Ontarians want and need the most: more doctors and nurses, better primary care, shorter wait times. That adds up to a healthier Ontario, but getting there won't be easy.

Today 45% of the province's program spending goes to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For the past five years, health care budgets in Ontario have grown by an average of 8% per year. We must begin to bring these costs under control. To improve cancer care, cardiac care, home care and long-term care, we have had to delist less critical services.

Beginning this fall, the province will no longer cover the cost of routine optometry examinations, except for seniors and Ontarians under the age of 20. We will no longer cover chiropractic and physiotherapy services, although seniors will continue to receive physiotherapy through home care and long-term-care facilities. These were not easy choices, but we believe they are the responsible choices.”


One can see the Liberal health care duplicity and outright lies being formed in 2004, promise after broken promise. Patients like Shona Holmes, or Lindsay McCreith, or Suzanne Aucoin, and a myriad other trusting Ontarians, had no idea of the Liberal health care authoritarianism which was in store for them.

Liberals enjoy spreading a perception that 'Harris cut health-care'; yet Sorbara himself said, in his own 2004 budget speech:
"For the past five years, health care budgets in Ontario have grown by an average of 8% per year."
That's right, read it again:
McGuinty's Liberals actually complained in 2004 that for five years, Harris spent too much on health-care, and the Liberals were now going to "control " that!

To improve” care, Liberals had “to delist” care, said Liberal health-care cutter, Greg Sorbara!

But, doesn't the arbitrary delisting of supposedly-“universal” health-services at the government’s whim defeat and contradict the entire concept of ‘universality’?!?
And this is the position of a Liberal government which controls the health-care monopoly in Ontario!

The Liberals (...right here, in their very first budget...) created two-tier health-care in Ontario: something which they always accused that Mike Harris might do, Dalton McGuinty actually did do.

In the Legislative assembly (Hansard L146A, 2005) here’s what Liberal hack Brad Duguid (Scarborough Centre) sputtered:

“John Tory doesn't know where he stands on health care. He won't tell the people of Ontario whether he plans to devastate our health care system immediately or whether he plans to devastate it over a long period of time. He owes it to the people of Ontario to fess up.” Powerfully stupid words, coming from a Liberal apparatchik whose own party turned out to be a bunch of liars.

Dalton McGuinty hasn’t told the people of Ontario when his Liberals are going to stop their devastation of Ontario’s health monopoly.

Locally in St. Catharines, McGuinty’s government refuses to investigate the high mortality rates in the Niagara Health System, said by CIHI to be the third-highest in Canada, and 35% above the national average.
The local Liberal apparatchik in St. Catharines, MPP Jim Bradley, has refused to publicly comment on the situation, since the CIHI report was released in Nov. 2007!
It’s Liberals such as Duguid, Bradley and McGuinty who ‘don’t know where they stand on health care’.

Elizabeth Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo) asked George Smitherman:

“My question is for the Acting Premier. As you know, the unexpected $1.2 billion in revenues generated by Ontario businesses last year did give you the opportunity to help hard-working Ontarians. Rather than doing that, you continued to punish them by doubling the cost of your illegal health tax. We now know that hospitals are also going to be forced to make significant staff and program cuts because of the lack of a plan and your misspent priorities.

Despite the fact that revenues are higher, despite the fact that the OHA is going to have to make some cuts, why are you forcing Ontarians to pay double your illegal health tax this year, and yet they are getting less health care because you've privatized eye exams and chiropractic services?”

Here’s George Smitherman’s (also Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care) reply:

“The incoherence of the Tory party continues. With them, it comes down to this: Tory, Tory, same old story. Here they are one more time complaining out of one side of their mouth that there should be a reduction in the amount of revenue that the province takes in, and on the other hand calling for additional investments in essential public services.”

What is this health minister - a child? Talk about hypocrisy… this is the same slithery Smitherman who - despite having billions of tax dollars at his disposal – laughed off the NHS when the hospital system said they needed more funding. (St. Catharines Standard, Dec.7, 2007) Yet in 2005 Smitherman was being asked the same pertinent questions about hospital funding, which still remain unanswered today, in 2008.

Meanwhile, patients at the NHS have been dying at an extraordinary rate, and the Liberals, despite five years of feel-good rhetoric and health-care posturing, refuse to reveal, or even investigate, why this is happening.

Is there a funding link? Is this the end result of Sorbara's 2004 statement where he said in the Legislature "we must begin to bring these [health-care] costs under control"?!

Despite glib Liberal {gliberal} promises, Ontario's long-term care bed shortage is getting worse, as today's Jan. 29, 2008 St.Catharines Standard wrote:

"A shortage of long term care and rehabilitation spaces across the province has become more severe over the past 18 months, so that almost one in every five acute-care hospitals beds is now occupied by a patient better served in another health care setting, the Ontario Hospital Association says.

OHA President Tom Closson told provincial pre-budget consultations that this "bottleneck" in health care means that an average of 680 patients are waiting in emergency rooms for beds at any given time in Ontario." {...and no, local St.Catharines Liberal Jim Bradley - as usual - was NOT interviewed by the St.Catharies Standard, about this!}

I wonder if MPP Jim Bradley can answer how many people in 2008 are waiting in the NHS on that basis, considering Sorbara's 2004 "better primary care, shorter wait times" boast.

Closson continued:
"With so many people waiting (in acute-care beds), patients who actually need to be admitted through the emergency department have to wait overnight or longer sometimes for days at a time."

Patients forced to wait overnight !?!

Patients forced to wait days at a time ?!?

Please, do not tell Michael Moore, who naively insists Ontario's sicko Liberal medicare system has ER waits faster than a pizza-delivery!

So much for Sorbara's 2004 pile of steaming-rubbish Liberal promises.
The shortage of beds has gotten worse under the Liberals - and they knew it, and ignored it, during the Oct. 2007 election.

To paraphrase the Great Slithery Smitherman, with Liberals, it comes down to this: Grit, Grit, same old shit.

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