Asked if the government is considering privatization,
Sylvia Jones says 'all options are on the table'
Ontario's health minister isn't ruling out privatization
in health care as the government looks at ways to deal with
a major staff shortage straining hospitals across the province.
Sylvia Jones said the government is considering many ideas
in an effort to keep emergency departments from closing.
When asked if the government is considering privatization,
Jones said "all options are on the table."
"I'm saying that there is innovation and opportunities
here in Ontario, and we will explore those," she said at
the legislature on Wednesday.
Emergency departments across Ontario have had to close for
hours or days at a time this summer, which health-care officials
say is due to a nurse staffing crisis.
NDP 'horrified' by suggestion
Jones says she has been in talks with hospital corporations
across the province in an effort to fix the problem. The
government is considering changes to the health system,
she said, although she did not specify what those would be.
"We've always had a public health-care system in the province
of Ontario and we will continue to," she said.
"Are we looking at options? Absolutely. There are jurisdictions
in other parts of Canada, in the world, that have other
opportunities that we're going to look at and all of those
suggestions are being considered."
Interim NDP Leader Peter Tabuns said any health-care
privatization "would be a disaster for Ontario."
In a statement Wednesday, Ontario Opposition New Democratic
Party health care critic France Gélinas said the party was
"horrified" to hear that privatization is under consideration.
"We are now deeply concerned that the reason this Conservative
government is refusing to act on the health care crisis is
because they'd rather just privatize health care," Gélinas
Advocates urge repealing wage-restraint legislation
Advocates have urged Premier Doug Ford to repeal public sector
wage restraint legislation that he introduced in 2019, saying
it is harming efforts to recruit and retain nurses.
Jones and Ford were peppered Tuesday about the ongoing crisis
in hospitals as they attended the first Question Period since
the Progressive Conservatives re-election in June.
Both did not call it a crisis, saying the government was investing
in the health-care system.
"If there was 5,000 nurses that could fly from the sky, we'd be
hiring them tomorrow," Ford said.
Jones said she is looking at "tweaks" to the health-care system
to help the problems in emergency departments, which have hit
some small rural hospitals harder than larger urban hospitals.
She said she has met with hospital administrators and nurses
unions to get more ideas on what to do. But she said she is
being cautious to understand how any suggested changes could
affect other parts of the health-care system.
Privatization in the spotlight in B.C.
"You can't just fix what is happening in health care shortages
in an emergency department and not appreciate and understand that t
here are impacts that may happen in the community through
community care services, through (personal support workers),
through long term care," she said.
Last week, Jones sent directives to the College of Nurses of
Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario,
urging them to make every effort to register internationally
educated nurses and doctors in the province as fast as possible.
The issue of privatization in health care has been in the
spotlight elsewhere in the country recently.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's dismissal
of a Vancouver surgeon's challenge of that province's Medicare
Protection Act, saying bans on extra-billing and private insurance
do not violate the Charter.
The decision upholds the law aimed at ensuring access to medical
care in the public system is based on need, not a patient's ability
And if Ontario does it . . .