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 …
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.”