The Ontario Health Coalition is calling the Ford government’s plans to expand private delivery of health services currently delivered at public hospitals a fatal threat to Canada's public health care system.
The coalition claims existing private for-profit clinics routinely extra-bill patients thousands of dollars. It also claims patients often face extra charges in the thousands of dollars for extra medically unnecessary add-ons.
Executive Director Nathalie Mehra said the province has done a terrible job so far in controlling for-profit health care companies in long-term care and other sectors.
"They pressure and manipulate patients into paying hundreds or thousands of dollars that they should never have to pay in our public health system,” noted Mehra."Patients are routinely charged ten times the public health system cost for private for-profit shoulder surgeries, four or five times the cost for private cataract surgeries, three times or more the cost for private MRIs."
Mehra warns that if the government turns over a significant portion of surgeries performed at hospitals to private clinics, patients won't be protected against "manipulative extra upselling."
“For-profit privatization of hospitals is a rip-off for patients and a threat to everything we hold dear,” said Mehra. “The Ford government has done nothing to stop the extra billing of patients in the existing private for-profit clinics in their four-and-a-half years in office. Frankly they have zero credibility on this. This is all about Ford handing over profits from our public health system to for-profit companies.”
Mehra says she's angry that the Ford Government hasn't done much to resolve the hospital staffing crisis, instead using it as an excuse to privatize. The coalition worries that private clinics will poach scarce staff out of public hospitals to care for patients with fewer needs, while those with complex requirements will be left with less funding and staffing to provide for their care.