Opinion Research reveals Ontarians largely unaware of dramatically rising healthcare costs

TORONTO, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - An "honest broker" is needed to represent the views of the public in any discussion about changes to the healthcare system according to the participants of the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan's (HOOPP) Think Tank, held in Toronto.

HOOPP invited 40 key healthcare stakeholders to participate in a recent think tank; the group included union leaders, government representatives, and healthcare providers. Presentations were made by public researcher David Herle and economist Don Drummond.

"HOOPP represents more than 250,000 working and retired healthcare workers in Ontario," says John Crocker, HOOPP President & CEO. "For that reason, we are taking an active role in the discussion about healthcare's future. We believe three things - that Ontarians benefit tremendously from our universal healthcare system, that the views of the public need to be a critical input in healthcare policy making, and that any reforms need to happen through societal consensus, rather than edict."

Think Tank attendees learned that the public is generally unaware of the problems facing the healthcare sector with respect to funding. Other findings included:

  • Few Ontarians believe that government spends too much on healthcare and even fewer think it should reduce its spending on healthcare.
  • Providing healthcare is seen as the most important thing government does, and Ontarians want it privileged above other spending priorities.  If government has to cut spending, they want healthcare protected from those cuts as much as possible and more so than any other spending envelope.  If government has extra money to invest, Ontarians want the healthcare system to have the first call on those resources.
  • Ontarians are open to systemic reforms to the system that preserve quality at lower cost, but not to lower cost that undercuts quality.  There is an openness to a range of ideas from how administration of the system is organized to how doctors are compensated, and even another crack at electronic records. 
  • Shifting the focus of healthcare delivery from hospitals to community settings is very popular with the people of Ontario, assuming that the quality of care in the community is equal to what it would be in the hospital.  The emerging Community Health Clinics and Family Health Teams are seen as a very positive evolution in the way healthcare is delivered.  But that is contingent upon being able to rely on equal quality, including equally experienced and qualified nurses and other healthcare professionals.  To be positioned to have quality healthcare practitioners in every setting, they need access to benefits that support their mobility throughout the system and throughout their career.

The Communiqué, which has been shared with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is a summary of the solutions generated during the Think Tank and calls for the creation of an "honest broker" to help facilitate a dialogue around healthcare, recommendations for further healthcare integration, and the public opinion research findings.

The Communiqué recommends that this "honest broker" group be formed by the government to be a champion for the system, and to lead the dialogue between citizens and the government to build awareness of problems and solutions. This group would ideally evolve into a permanent healthcare research institute - a voice for all who are served by, or serve, the healthcare sector.

Other immediate steps government could take include more integration between the hospital-delivered and community-delivered care, finding efficiencies within administration, and the creation of more long-term care beds.

The full text of the Communiqué can be found here: http://www.hoopp.com/symposium/docs/deficitdriven/hoopp_thinktank_communique.pdf

The research from Gandalf can be found here:

About the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan
Created in 1960, the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) is the pension plan of choice for Ontario's hospital and community-based healthcare sector with over 340 participating employers and more than 250,000 plan members and retirees. HOOPP invests the assets of its $31 billion Fund, administers the Plan and pays more than $1 billion per year in pension benefits. The HOOPP defined benefit plan is a formula based benefit that provides security and peace of mind to Ontario's healthcare workforce.

HOOPP was named one of Canada's Top Most Admired Corporate Cultures in 2010.

HOOPP is governed by a Board of Trustees with representation from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and four unions: the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The unique governance model provides representation from both employers and unions in support of the long-term interests of the Plan.


For further information:

or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Martin Biefer
Director, Public Affairs
416 369-8045

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