Peter Downs wrote in “NHS finds it’s not alone in the red. Niagara Health System among province’s 75 hospitals facing deficits next fiscal; year.” (St. Catharines Standard, Mar.14, 2008):
“The NHS is among 75 of the province's 154 hospitals that the Ontario Hospital Association says are facing deficits next fiscal year.
That number is projected to rise to 104 the following year, according to the association.
"I didn't know it was that high," NHS board chairwoman Betty-Lou Souter said Thursday. "This just reaffirms that we are not unique."
Premier Dalton McGuinty said during the last election campaign, one-half of Ontario's entire budget is spent in just one department – the Ministry of Health. And now we hear reports that half of Ontario’s hospitals are running deficits, and more are expected to next year. And, if we remember that McGuinty in Oct.2007, promised (again) not to raises taxes…what are the Liberals going to do with this financial crunch?
Downs further reports: “Under new legislation, the provincial government prohibits hospitals from running deficits.
But the OHA contends the province doesn't provide hospitals enough base funding to account for increasing expenses, such as higher wage and energy costs.
The association maintains the province would have to invest an additional $1.2 billion to bring the spending on Ontario hospitals to a level equivalent to hospitals across the country.
Health Minister George Smitherman dismissed the OHA's predictions that nearly half of Ontario's hospitals are facing illegal deficits.
Smitherman wouldn't rule out cuts at cash-strapped hospitals as they scramble to avoid red ink.
"What is a cut?" Smitherman said after announcing a $100-million plan to add a new prescription drug to the province's publicly funded list.
"If a hospital alters its administration and some people are exited from that environment, is that a cut? No, I don't think so."
Some hospitals are reportedly contemplating service cuts to avoid running deficits.
But Smitherman pointed out that such doom-and-gloom predictions are common around budget time, when many groups are competing for more cash."
Isn’t it astounding to watch Smitherman slither around the definition of "cut"?!
When Smitherman asks “What is a cut?”, I’m reminded of President Clinton’s famous ‘what is the definition of “is”’ routine. Smitherman used the word “cut” many times when he was in opposition. What did he mean then, when he was saying "cut"??
The Liberals loved to allege that Harris cut health-care spending, yet Thomas Walkom wrote in “Liberal health care record withers under microscope”, (Toronto Star, Sept.15, 2007) that the Liberal's own “health-care tax revenues aren't necessarily spent on the province's roughly $38 billion annual bill for doctors, hospitals and drugs.
That has been the case with the McGuinty tax. Finance ministry figures show that the Liberal government raised $9.3 billion from their new tax between 2003 and 2007. But during the same period, health spending rose by only $8.5 billion.
The remaining $800 million went to pay bills incurred by the roughly $88 billion the government spends each year.
Curiously, health spending has increased at a slower rate under the Liberals than it did during the last years of the Tory regime. Between 1999 and 2003, the Tories increased the amount they devoted to health care by $8.7 billion, or 43 per cent. Between 2003 and 2007, and in spite of their new tax, the Liberals boosted health spending by just 30 per cent.”
It is good old George Smitherman who has cut health spending, all the while pretending he hasn't! It is his Liberals who have accumulated a sad track record of health-care duplicity since 2003!
Downs wrote: “Rather than dealing directly with the Health Ministry for more dollars, hospitals must negotiate with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).
Under a new funding structure set up by the province, the Health Ministry provides health-care dollars to LHINs, which will in turn decide how much to provide hospitals in their territories.
Souter said the NHS is involved in negotiations with the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant LHIN leading up to the end of the fiscal year.”
Oh, yes: let’s not forget the LHINS…another Liberal parallel health-bureaucracy, set up and funded by the Liberal government with Liberal-appointed boards, which are now supposedly going to play the role of bad-cop to Smitherman’s supposed good-cop routine, forcing hospitals to ration their Liberal-given budgets! These LHINS are transparently nothing more than a layered punching bag to insulate and protect the Liberals from actual direct accountability!
By the way, on the Windsor Star website, Mar.12, 2008, "OUR HEALTHCARE SUCKS" posted this visceral, vernacular response to Smitherman's ignoring cancer patient Sylvia de Vries: "SMITHERMAN'S A FRICKIN' JERK. NEVER DID LIKE THAT IDIOT. THEY DON'T WANT YOU TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE IN THE U.S. BECAUSE THEY WOULD RATHER SEE YOU DIE. IF IT WERE HIM OR A RELATIVE, THEY'D GET THE BEST CARE AVAILABLE AND IMMEDIATELY!!!!!"