The claim that privatizing medicare saves money is fraudulent


The claim that privatizing medicare saves money is fraudulent


One does not have to look too far to find out that the Ontario Government’s claim – that in order to fix the hospital crisis we need to integrate private clinics to help deliver health care – is fraudulent.

This government has never given up its love affair with privatization of public services despite overwhelming evidence everywhere that privatization is costlier and less efficient than publicly owned and publicly delivered services. The claim that private sector saves us money is downright insulting.

For example, in 1994 the Saskatchewan Government sold the Potash Corporation to the private sector for $630 million. In 2010 a company interested in buying it offered $38.6 billion to buy it from the new owner. A quick google will turn up dozens of similar stories such as the striking failure of Ornge air ambulance service after it was privatized. According to political economist Randy Robinson: “costs doubled, services deteriorated, lives were lost, and the scammer owners ultimately charged with fraud.”

But conservative ideologues are a determined lot when it comes to satisfying their appetite for privatization. Given the facts, they then switch to new ways of privatization – keep the assets and turn over the delivery of public services to the private sector. 

So our hospitals are suffering from a serious shortage of workers and are unable to provide adequate services to Ontarians. Solution? Use private clinics to alleviate the overcrowding as they have been using privately owned nursing companies in hospitals. Even though the cost of contracting services of these companies are far greater than the cost of attracting more nurses by increasing their pay. 

The problem according to Robinson is that compared to the rest of Canada, Ontario has been underfunding healthcare for many years despite it being the richest province with the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita with the lowest per capita health care funding of all the provinces. “There is more money in the province than when Ontario created Medicare, built the 400 series highways or set up the community college system.” Despite that Robinson says, “When it comes to program spending, Ontario spends $2,000 less per person per year than the average of the other provinces.”

A look at the books indicates that the Ontario government’s claim of lack of funds is false. There was hardly a Covid effect on the treasury; not after the Federal government gave $145 billion to Ontario.

Robinson, who is Ontario Director for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, has a lot more to say. All of it putting the lie to Ontario’s reasons for wanting to integrate private clinics into the healthcare system. Even knowing the province is flushed with unspent money while the provinces Financial Accountability Office admits that program spending isn’t keeping up with inflation or population growth.

There is no excuse for starving the public system while willingly paying a heavy premium on contracted service from the private sector.

There is no common sense here. It’s purely conservative ideology masquerading as fiscal responsibility.