McGuinty government's healthcare spending numbers bear scrutiny and don't
support the attack on hospitals

TORONTO, March 24 /CNW/ - According to the Throne Speech, 46 cents of every dollar spent on government programs is being spent on health care, and in 12 years time, that figure could reach 70 cents. However those numbers bear much closer scrutiny, says the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. Hospital funding has grown by much less than funding for other major health care sectors and less than half the rate of increase of physician funding.

A review of the parliamentary estimates from 2004 when the McGuinty government was elected to the most recent numbers show that:

Hospital funding increased 23.8% or $2,957,885,900. This represents an increase from $12,414,664,400 to $15,372,550,600.

CCAC funding increased 39.8% or $520,213,000. This represents an increase from $1,307,841,100 to $1,828,054,000.

OHIP Drug funding increased 33.7% or $845,872,600. This represents an increase from $2,506,821,400 to $3,352,694,000.

OHIP Physician funding increased 57.6% or $4,099,014,300. This represents an increase from $7,116,617,200 in 2004/5 to $ 11,215,631,500 in 2009/10.

OCHU President Michael Hurley said today "the cost drivers rocketing up healthcare spending are doctors' billings and drug costs. The Liberal government's refusal to address the fact that doctor's billings are up 57.6% over 5 years and the cost of drugs is up 33.7% shows a lack of courage to take on powerful interests."

"Instead the government's attention is focused on squeezing the most efficient hospital system in Canada. Hospitals across Ontario are shedding beds and cutting services and staff. Hospitals have begun to close and more closures are coming. Access to care is an increasing problem. The Throne Speech announced measures which will lead to the commercialization of hospital services and accelerate the pace of the closure of hospital services outside of major urban centres."

"By comparison with the other provinces, Ontario's hospital system is the most efficient, with the fewest number of beds and staff measured against our population, the lowest costs and shortest lengths of stay. Given that Ontario's growing and aging population is using services more and given the increased cost of medical technologies the annual hospital inflation rate is actually low at less than 4.4%" said Hurley.

Hurley concluded that "Ontario hospital staff are working hard to deliver the most efficient hospital system in Canada and we will aggressively fight the hospital cutbacks and privatization being driven by this government. It is time for the McGuinty government to take on physician and drug costs, which are the healthcare spending elements out of control."

SOURCE Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (CUPE)

For further information: For further information: Michael Hurley, President, OCHU, (416) 884-0770

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