Ontario’s broken promises on funding for health care and jobs

Ontario’s nurses are campaigning for more health care dollars. If only they hadn’t believed the government’s promises …

The Truth Hurts

Back in January 2012, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) issued its Research Paper # 3. The paper was directed at the provincial government and called for increased health care spending including adding 9,000 registered nurses to the sector.

One of the recommendations in the paper was: “To fulfill the 2009 G20 Pittsburg commitment to put quality jobs at the heart of economic recovery – part of the coordinated G20 stimulus plans to which Canada was a signatory – the Ontario government should work with the federal government to establish job creation targets in various areas. This should include job-intensive green job creation and fully subsidized skills training programs accessible to all unemployed and underemployed workers.”

Disaster for health care

Fast-forward four years: the ONA is running TV ads focusing on nursing layoffs at hospitals and reduced health care funding throughout the province. Layoff notices have been appearing regularly since release of the Research Paper. The ONA’s President, Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, has been outspoken about the health care cuts as in a February 2016 media release where she says “that 2016 is turning into a ‘disaster’ for patient care and it’s now hitting Toronto hospitals.”

It is ironic that the ONA appeared to support Ontario’s Liberal government in the last election, even giving $100,000 to “Working Families,” the coalition of unions that used union dues to paint the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario as not worthy of election. Almost $2.5 million was spent to accomplish that task. The ONA, whose members pay high union dues, spent $687,000 in total.

Billions lost in cheap power exports

Had the ONA re-considered their recommendation to “include job-intensive green job creation” in Research Paper # 3 and instead examined the fall-out from the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA), they might have taken a different tack.  As I noted in an earlier article, just the cost of Ontario’s net exports of electricity from 2007 to 2015 removed almost $4.5 billion from ratepayer pockets. That $4.5 billion would have gone a long way to ensure both the retention of registered nurses and the hiring of recently graduated RNs.

Believing the Ontario Liberal government promises of job creation with the GEA, and endorsing it, the ONA may have exacerbated the continuing cuts to health care. Many earlier studies out of the EU noted that, rather than creating private sector jobs, renewable power developments actually caused the demise of private sector jobs in ratios as much as five to one.  Tax dollars need to come from the private sector and those jobs promised by the McGuinty-led government were simply a pipe dream.

The ONA may also have been led astray by George Smitherman when he set up a $40-million irrevocable trust to save nursing jobs referred to as the Nurses Retention Fund, but only a very small portion of the fund has actually gone to retain jobs.  While the $40 million is a long way from the $4.5 billion mentioned above, it would appear to have done little to support Registered Nursing jobs, perhaps because of the way it was setup by the former Minister of Health.

The ONA should ask the government to focus on wasted tax dollars both within the health care portfolio and elsewhere, including the Energy Ministry where billions of dollars are being wasted annually.

(C) Parker Gallant

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please see a news release on a report issued today by the CD Howe Institute on poor governance in Ontario’s electricity sector. An excerpt: “If a disproportionately large amount is dedicated to unnecessary electricity projects, then that amount is not available to meet other needs such as transportation, schools and hospitals.”

Comments

Pat Cusack
Reply

Show me a government that really cares about people and I’ll eat my hat.

Andre Lauzon
Reply

Do nurses live in a cocoon? Are they expecting the Ontario gov’t to be honest! Wake up girls and guys……….look what you voted for; look at the big picture and not only your little world. The Liberals have ruined the Province and regardless what they preach at the next election, it will still be a lie

Wind Concerns Ontario
Reply

Years ago, the Sussex Strategy Group proposed to the wind industry lobby that it get health professionals onside with the greening of Ontario, and used (false) statistics related to air pollution and asthma to buttress this proposal. If health professionals support wind power, then the general public would. The nurses, including the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and the union the Ontario Nurses Association, fell for this hook line and sinker. Nurses for Safe Power has documented this.

Al Taylor (CORT)
Reply

Maybe Georgian Bay Hospital would not be in their fiscal mess if we didn’t have the obscene drain that green energy causes.

Bob Lyman
Reply

It would be interesting to calculate just how much the increase in electricity rates caused by the Liberal government’s misguided electricity policies has affected the energy costs incurred by hospitals in the province. Hospitals are large institutions. The Ottawa General Hospital publishes its annual energy costs as $8.1 million. There are 145 public hospitals in Ontario. If we make the simplifying assumption that they all incur annual energy costs comparable to the Ottawa General, then the annual energy bill would be $1.175 billion. Could up to half of that (i.e. $587 million) have been avoided by more sensible policies? How far would $587 million have gone to avoiding nurse layoffs?

Parker Gallant
Reply

Bob, Unfortunately most of the annual reports from the hospitals don’t break out their energy costs. It would interesting if your calculation was in the ballpark.

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