Two weeks before Christmas and just as Queen's Park Legislature stops all business until February 2017, Ontario's minister of health lobbed an explosive proposal at doctors in the province. Though Ontario's physicians have been working without a contract since March 2014, the government's latest PR stunt was met with widespread fury.
Ontario needs genuine health-system reform. Instead we get the Patients First Act. Doctors are hopping mad. So we are turning our backs on those who willfully ignore our warnings and our advice. They will now stand alone as their committees waste more time and taxpayer money on a sketchy health-care "transformation."
Based on the Auditor General's analysis, Ontario businesses are expected to send $466 million to California and Quebec under cap and trade by 2020. And by 2030, businesses will have sent about $2.2 billion. That's all money leaving the Ontario economy to achieve almost nothing. Sadly, it's just the beginning.
We simply do not have enough to give everyone the care they need right when they need it. In an ideal world, we would. That is the definition of timely, universal health care. But in real-world Ontario, we are forced to triage patients and ration health care. Too many people, too few publicly-funded resources.
In 1993, a single person on social assistance would receive $962 in today's dollars. The poverty gap (the difference between total income and the low-income measure) was 20 per cent. Today, that single person on Ontario Works (OW) only receives $681 and experiences a poverty gap of a startling 59 per cent.
The reason I care what my provincial government does is simple: health care in Ontario is in a downward spiral -- I see it everywhere, even in my small town family medicine practice. At this point, the government must step up and stabilize the situation. I've been in independent practice for seven years. In that short time, I have watched resources dwindle.
It was another tumultuous week in Ontario, as the province's seemingly never-ending battle with its physicians continued. The grand Hoskins scheme now seems to be to sow discord amongst physicians so they fight amongst themselves. He knows that if physicians unite against Bill 210, as they did against the tPSA, he will never be able to succeed in implementing his plans.
By rejecting the PSA, physicians have turned their backs on the proposed system of co-management. Physicians have clearly identified that they can see the failings of the system and it is critical that those perspectives are heard by government to ensure that the solutions implemented are effective.
The OMA ramped up their aggressive endorsement: ads appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Calls for a balanced discussion were met with threats from the OMA: "it's either the PSA or more cuts." Rules govern how such votes occur. The OMA's methods rigged the votes towards a "yes," seemingly breaching them all.
Lets be honest. The tentative Physician Services Agreement negotiated between the OMA and the Ministry is not a good deal. Anyone with any experience in negotiation, law, or with any common sense can realize that this barely qualifies as a contract. But I'm voting yes, and I strongly encourage my colleagues to do the same.
They outsource services to the U.S. -- services that now cost more than they would if provided here. They waste much-needed health-care dollars on bureaucracy and failed ventures. They ignore ordinary people as they die on ballooning wait lists. They offer Band-Aid solutions to complex problems. This is not acceptable.
Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation. We are running out of time to address it, as the risks and costs of the crisis grow. For far too long Queen's Park has failed to muster the political will to tackle it. The good news is that Ontario finally has a climate action plan. The not-so-good news is that many aspects of the Liberal plan are intentions to develop a plan for future actions -- a bit fuzzy, given the scale and immediacy of the problem. The even worse news is that the plan is weakest in the area that it needs to be the strongest to be effective: its carbon price.
The Trudeau government's first budget offered hope but little change on increasing the CPP in our lifetime. After extolling the virtues of the Canada Pension Plan, we're told that the finance ministers talked about enhancing the CPP last December and set a goal of making a collective decision before the end of 2016.
If someone gave you $80.5 million dollars, you'd probably feel pretty good about them. You may want to shout it from the rooftops that you think they're great -- and you may even be willing to pay a million dollars or two to shout it, especially if it meant the money would keep rolling in. In essence, that's what auditor general Bonnie Lysyk found was happening in Ontario with the Wynne government's secret payments to teachers' unions. The total amounts paid by the government to teachers union organizations is astounding: since 2000, $80.5 million in taxpayer money has been funneled to teachers' organizations.
The Ontario Liberal government has introduced legislation that will ban corporate, union and association political contributions and impose lower limits on those made by individuals. I am agnostic about this fundraising issue. In many ways, Ontario's current system works. All donations are made public. There are limits to how much each organization can give. Lobby rules require advocates to disclose their activities on a public registry. It is far less underground than people think.
The two-time mayoral candidate, who capitalized on the few opportunities to debate the front runners in the Toronto mayoral races of 2010 and 2014, raised awareness of the city's social responsibility to support its most vulnerable citizens. He is now more than ever determined to galvanize his support which has grown over his two mayoral campaigns in a specific part of the city.
When the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP agree on something, the issue must transcend ideology. On Tuesday the PCs, supported by their opposition colleagues, will move that the Ontario government restore funding for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy for children five years of age and over.
My life's story has always been about working with people, finding common ground, and delivering real results. I have the political experience we need to proudly bring our Scarborough-Rouge River voice to Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government and deliver on the transit, health care, education and opportunities that will make us stronger. I'm standing up for the progress we've made in Ontario, and the progress we need to make for a brighter future. I look forward to the opportunity to fight with, not against, Kathleen Wynne on her progressive agenda as part of her activist government. Together, we will continue to make progress.