I’m willing to take a wait and see attitude about some of the Ford government’s newly announced healthcare reforms. Maybe not all of their ideas are bad. I’m not even all that bent out of shape just yet about the looming specter of more privatization because I feel like there are probably ways to blend the two that would end up benefiting everyone if folks took the time to figure it out.
But what does concern me is one of the core ideas at work here, that somehow smashing 20 different organizations into one giant bureaucratic monolith is going to make anything better. Is there duplication in the system? Perhaps. But how much is true duplication and how much is necessary overlap because the jobs are just different enough is a question we could debate until the end of time, and it’s hard to trust a government whose entire platform is based on slashing and burning wherever it can (patronage and rolling lounges excluded of course) to focus on the subtle nuances and strike a good balance. The list of things that have been improved by requiring less people to do more work (especially when it’s work this specialized) is a short one. I’m not saying we’re going to wake up tomorrow and find that transplants and cancer treatment will be in shambles, but long term this feels a bit like a time bomb waiting to explode and take all of us with it.
The Doug Ford government is creating a central agency called Ontario Health to oversee the province’s $60-billion health-care system.
The super-agency — unveiled Tuesday by Health Minister Christine Elliott — will be formed by dissolving the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and merging their duties with those of six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario.
Six agencies that will be consolidated under Ontario Health, in addition to the 14 LHINs, are:
- Cancer Care Ontario.
- eHealth Ontario.
- Trillium Gift of Life Network.
- Health Shared Services.
- Health Quality Ontario.
- HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency.
Elliott said Tuesday that work overhauling the system will begin in the spring, but it will take years for it “to become mature.”
It’s also not comforting that the government can’t or won’t tell us how much money they think this is all going to save or offer any specifics about how many jobs are going to be lost. What that tells me is that they either have something to hide or they haven’t thought that far ahead, neither of which is any good.
Asked repeatedly what the changes mean in terms of cost savings or administrative job losses, Elliott would not provide specifics on either point. The news release touting the changes does mention “eliminating duplicative back office infrastructure and administration.”
In background materials provided by the government, it says that each of the six agencies being rolled into Ontario Health has a full senior management team and administrative support, “and over time some of this work has become duplicative.”