by Justin Panos
The real source of Ontario’s budget deficit is the difference between what the wealthy pay and what they ought to pay.
One of the most common myths in the health care debate is that the elders of society are costing the system too much. The aging population, they claim, is bearing too heavily on the public health care system for it to further endure. It is important to know who the mythmakers are, their motives, and how they promote their dubious policy.
The government of Ontario has an annual deficit of $16 billion dollars. Immense pressure has been placed on the government by banks and bond traders to pay off the deficit. To achieve this, many are calling for deep cuts to health care in Ontario. Healthcare spending takes up 40 per cent of Ontario’s budget, $44.8 billion dollars in 2011-12, which is up 6.1% from last year.
To disguise their grievous quests for profits, business leaders and their friends in political office disguise their austerity packages under vaguely plausible but ultimately phony problems. The tactless and most recent argument advances is that we are facing a crisis of elderly people, the number of which are consuming too much costs per year. The solution is to have private business pick up the slack.
To claim that Ontario’s seniors are the source of the crisis is a cynical effort to divert attention from how little the rich in Ontario contribute to the health care system. This conclusion was made as long ago as 1978 by two Quebecois health economists and has been reconfirmed annually since the year 2000 until now by the Canadian Institute for Health Indicators, an Ottawa-based research group.
In a 2011 report entitled Health Care Cost Drivers: The Facts, released on their website, the CIHI says that aging is only 0.8% of annual increases making it the most inconsequential of all drivers (2.8% general inflation, 1% population growth, and 2.8% other).
The essential point is this, although people access the health system more often as they get older, the real source of crisis is the way elderly care is becoming privatized—exorbitant prices for drugs and nursing homes user fees.
The real crisis affecting the budget is summarized here:
- Between 1997 and 2004, cuts in income and corporate taxes as removed close to $170.8 billion dollars from the Federal and Provincial revenues. This is money transferred from public services and shovelled into the pockets of the rich.
- The rising cost of user fees associated with private drug plans and long-term care. Bringing these sectors under the public sector will control their costs according to the Canadian Doctors for Medicare.
- Enforce the Employer’s Health Tax that loses $2.4 billion in tax loopholes. This is according to the Ontario Health Coalition.
The more enticing the argument for private care sounds, the more it should raise suspicion. The only goal of a privatized health care system is the immense radiance of a dollar sign.