Healthcare

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Mental Health

We will have a more extensive section on mental health coming soon. We do not want to rush the information. However, it is such an important part of our healthcare system, and with all the cuts happening to various communities, this healthcare is needed more than ever. Especially since Ford cut millions in mental healthcare funding. So we’d like to provide you with resources before we have the section fully written.

Tools and resources:

  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: access programs, care, stay up to date on news and research.
  • Healing Collective:The Healing Collective is a holistic and comprehensive collective of psychotherapists and allied health practitioners in Toronto’s Danforth East neighbourhood.  
  • Hard Feelings Toronto: Hard Feelings is an innovative, welcoming community of professional counsellors who provide low-cost services and support.
  • Connex Ontario: a free confidential service you can call or chat with to help you get the care that you need.
  • Selfcare for activists: if you’re here, chances are you are an activist in some way. Selfcare for activists is incredibly important. If you need to turn off the news, honour your feelings, or take a break, WTF supports you.

If you have more resources you would like to share with us, please contact us.

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Healthcare Privatization

Will Ford privatize Healthcare?

During his campaign Ford said he would not make moves to privatize Ontario healthcare. On January 31 the Ford government released the initial report on Ontario’s healthcare from his council advisory which promised that consultations would be ongoing and recommendations would be made in a few months, this process has been paid for by the government.

Later that afternoon the Ontario NDP hosted a press conference revealing a leaked 60+ page drafted bill. It included language that hinted at privatization possibilities, such as merging many agencies into one “super agency” that would have the power to open up bidding on delivery of services – which can include private companies.

The PCs claimed this wasn’t true, and that the bill was just a draft and that the NDP was overreacting.

The next week more documents were leaked to show that the PCs had already approved a plan, and that there were more opportunities for privatization within said approved plan. Health Minister Christine Elliott denied ever seeing the documents – despite her signature appearing on them. The PCs fired a staffer who was discovered to be leaking the documents.

Will I have to pay for services if this bill goes through?

You will not have to pay out of pocket (yet). However, the privatization of services means that your tax dollars go to a private corporation rather than within the government. It also gives power to corporations whose intentions are to make a financial profit. This first step may also lead to more privatization within the healthcare system.

Will it save money or end hallway medicine?

It’s not clear how this bill would do either. First of all, the province is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a research committee to inform healthcare changes … when it is already moving ahead with its own plan before receiving recommendations. This is a gross misuse of funds.

Furthermore, opening up services to be provided to the lowest bidder does not mean healthcare will improve.

And lastly, parts of this bill vastly impact healthcare groups that neither the public or Ontario have identified as problem areas. With the creation of this “super agency” Cancer Care Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life, and Public Health Ontario will be absorbed into one overarching bureaucracy with less transparent oversight. These groups do not contribute to hallway medicine issues, and the admin work of absorbing them may negatively impact patients. Cancer patients and patients awaiting organ and/or tissue transplants will have their cases absorbed by this super agency and have care disrupted.

Take Action!

Resources:

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OHIP+

What is OHIP+?

In 2017 Wynne announced additional funding to the OHIP program that would allow Ontario residents under the age of 25 drug coverage to over 4,400 prescriptions with no copay or deductible.

Why was it for people under the age of 25?

Wynne campaigned on extending the program to cover Ontario residents over the age 65. The coverage for younger folks was to fill the gaps for people who are not covered under a parents plan, or did not have coverage through their work. This meant people whose parents didn’t have coverage, or who didn’t live with their parents, and people who were struggling to find full-time employment in the ‘gig economy’ would have the same healthcare access as their peers.

What’s Ford’s plan?

Cut OHIP+.

Um, why?

While Ford called the plan ineffective, this is part of a larger move to move healthcare to private companies (aka insurance companies that make a profit). However, not all private providers are created equal. They don’t all cover the same 4,400 prescriptions the original program would cover, and they require an upfront cost from individuals.

Will this save taxpayer money?

Many cuts Ford makes are under the policy of saving the taxpayer money. This is a fairly loaded concept that is not an argument in and of itself. Taxpayer dollars are not the be all and end all of policy decisions when they come at the real expense of quality of living. With that said, experts don’t think this saves taxpayer money. It is anticipated to severely impact the middle class and costing them more money. Moving to privatize coverage also can lead to increase in the market value of medication. This isn’t about saving taxpayer money, it’s about creating more money for private insurance companies at the expense of the Ontario people.

What other impacts will this have?

For many already marginalized young folks, the new plan relies heavily on how the relationship with their parents are. It should go without saying that not everyone has contact with, or a good relationship with their parents. This move will reduce privacy with parents being able to know what their children are seeking medical attention for. This creates significant barriers. For example, trans youth may not feel safe seeking health care without guaranteed privacy. Same for young women seeking abortions, youth with sexually transmitted diseases and infection, or youth needing mental health care.

Take Action!

Resources:

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Safe Injection Sites

What is a safe injection site?

As Canada deals with the opioid crisis, safe injection sites (also called Overdose Prevention, or Harm Reduction sites) are spaces where drug users use safely under medical supervision. It also allows for medical professionals to monitor and prevent the spread of tainted drugs. This also reduces the spread of diseases such as HIV. Some are concerned that the sites encourage and increase drug usage – studies show that this is not the case, that safe injection sites reduce harm and do not increase drug usage.

What is Ford doing with them?

The Ford government paused the safe injection site program to “see if they have merit”. The program already went through years long reviews, community consultations, and are the result of evidence-based healthcare policy.

What impact will this have?

The impact on public health will be severe. There are people dying every day that the government decides to reexamine the merit (that again, has already been examined). It also means the spread of intravenous infection, and tainted drugs may increase.

Take Action!

  • Follow Zoë Dodd, a fierce advocate on the issue
  • Write your MPP and urge them to resume the program.

Resources:

 

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“Hallway Medicine”

What does Doug mean when he says he’ll cut “hallway medicine”?

Many people living in Ontario have experienced long wait times at hospitals, and temporary beds in hallways. Ford calls this ineffective and wasteful.

Why does it happen in the first place?

There is a mixture of overcrowding and lack of capacity in our hospital systems. While Ontario’s population keeps growing, Ontario funds its public hospitals at the lowest rate in Canada and we have the fewest hospital beds per capita.

So what’s he going to do?

In October, Ford announced 90$ million dollars for hospital beds.

That’s good right?

While it’s framed as an increase, the Wynne government had already pledged 187$ million for these temporary beds. The announcement was actually a way to announce this cut while making it seem like a positive thing.

Ok…will there be less “hallway medicine” this way?

Well, Ford is cutting the funding for temporary beds in hospitals, so technically there will be less hallway medicine because there will be less ability to do so. Temporary bed funding was a band-aid solution, but there has not been a different solution offered. Removing the band-aid solution without offering something in its stead means Ontario patients will need to wait longer for treatment.

Take Action!

  • Support Ontario Health Coalition: you can find your local chapter, donate, or volunteer with OHC. OHC’s goal is to protect public healthcare.
  • Write your MPP: write your MPP to condemn this cut, and ask for updates on funding based solutions.
  • Do your part for public health and get your flu shot.

Resources: