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May 18, 2004
Provincial budget shows some important rebuilding

 also some serious flaws: OHC

Today’s budget announcement includes some significant reinvestment in the public health system but also includes regressive moves, said the Ontario Health Coalition.

The positive announcements:
Increased multi-year funding for hospitals
Increased funding for long term care facilities and homecare
Investment in primary care reform
Increased funding and provincial responsibility for public health
Budget increases are a first step but will be inadequate in some areas.

The negative announcements:
Healthcare premiums  - these premiums announced today are regressive (more of a percent of income for $20,000 income earners than $200,000 income earners).  There are many options that the provincial government could have chosen to raise the necessary funds for healthcare. Using Senator Kirby’s recommendation for health premiums is a surprising and regressive policy decision.
Inadequate capital funding equals private P3 hospitals - there is no clear plan and inadequate funding in the budget for rebuilding hospitals publicly. Without further capital funding announcements, this budget looks like a plan for privatized P3 hospitals.
Delisting - some physiotherapy, optometry and chiropractic services are to be delisted from OHIP.  Since patients will still have to pay for these services when sick or in need, this is not a savings for Ontarians, but rather a shifting of the burden of payment to individuals and a shrinking of the scope of public medicare.

Privatization and cost containment:
The higher cost of the for-profit health industry must be addressed in order to make healthcare sustainable. The shift of payment for health services onto individuals will be a particular blow to young and poor working people while some of the wealthiest corporations in the world benefit from the continuing privatization and deregulation of our health system. The provincial government must move to contain the marketing strategies of the pharmaceutical industry that are driving up costs in hospitals and in public drug plans. The privatized P3 hospitals will be much more expensive than public hospitals. The provincial government needs to develop a capital funding plan that retains public finance and control of hospitals.