For-profit care: Taking care of investors, not Ontarians, says RNAO
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) decries in the strongest possible terms the latest move by the Ford government to expand the scope of for-profit facilities in Ontario’s health-care system. This will worsen wait times and expand a two-tier system where most Ontarians will lose.
The evidence is conclusive: “not-for-profit health-care cost less and delivers higher quality,” says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. Moreover, health-care services delivered through for-profit facilities are first and foremost accountable to their investors – not to patients.
Premier Ford and Health Minister Jones themselves have acknowledged that for-profit facilities will be allowed to “upsell” private services – for example, offering patients a higher-end lens or joint surgery – so they can make a profit over the fees allowed by OHIP. And, many such facilities routinely charge extra-billing fees, often illegally. This is a slippery slope that erodes equitable and universal access, and weakens the Canada Health Act, eventually leading to a full-blown two-tier health system.
“Expanding the scope for investor-driven health care changes the political dynamics in our health-care system,” adds Grinspun. “The forces lobbying for a US-style, profit-driven system are strengthened, as wealthy Ontarians abandon the public health-care system and pay for their services with their credit cards and private insurance. Most of the public is left to fend for themselves in a deteriorated public system.”
Grinspun also warns that “for-profit clinics suction off nurses and other health professionals, worsening the health human resources crisis in our hospitals. These are the dynamics fed by the measures announced by Premier Ford, which we must prevent. The public will not accept them, as they have not accepted them in the past.”
If Premier Ford and Minister Jones want to genuinely reduce the surgery backlog and decrease wait times for diagnostic procedures and surgery, RNAO and others have already provided a roadmap. “The answers are within the public health-care system, which must be strengthened by bringing in more nurses and keeping the operating rooms running in our hospitals 24/7,” says RNAO President Dr. Claudette Holloway. “Efficiencies in performing high volumes of standardized procedures can be found in specialized centres within hospitals, or at non-profit sites such as the Kensington Vision and Research Centre where Premier Ford chose to make his announcement.”
Addressing the health human resources crunch in hospitals by bringing in and retaining more nurses is key. “The only way forward is to make sure nurses receive competitive compensation, including the repealing of Bill 124, so they can keep working in Ontario and build their careers. Nurses also deserve healthy work environments that have manageable workloads to deliver the best care possible to all Ontarians”.
Holloway stresses, “This new move from the government will only be in the best interest of private for-profit companies. Most nurses want to work for a not-for-profit health-care system as their goal has always been to help everyone in need – not only the wealthy,” she says. “Expanding for-profit independent health-care facilities will cost us dearly in the years to come as Ontarians will be forced to rely on companies only looking out for themselves and not for the health of Ontarians.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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