Sunday, March 08, 2015

A Tough Issue...Raising Revenue For Public Services With Private Customers.


You've heard it all before.

Specifically, a consequence of all this austerity for public programs that matter, as opposed to, say, prix-fixe bonanzas for the finest of the privateers, is that those truly public/universal programs are increasingly being challenged by governments to raise funds creatively.

Of course, that is already happening in the education field where folks from outside Canada are sending their kids to our public schools and paying big bucks to do it.

In fact, this is something as we learned here in during Mr. Fassbender's-forced march job action last summer/fall when there were big concerns that the teachers' strike would cut into much needed revenue for British Columbia school boards.

But now it's starting to happen in Canada's public health facilities as well.

Marlene Trotter and Francesca Fionda of Global News have the story:

Canadian patients cannot pay for treatment in a publicly funded hospital. That would violate Canada’s Health Act. But foreign patients can.

And it’s been happening inside hospitals at Toronto’s University Health Network – known as UHN – for more than three years...

Which is extremely bothersome on the surface of it, particularly when you think of what this might ultimately mean for domestic universality of timely access to high quality care for all.

But, have no fear, the hospital administration is here and they have everything under control (at least for now):

...Since 2011 UHN has treated 621 foreign patients, mostly cancer and cardiac patients, from 23 different countries. Those patients generated nearly $30 million in profits.

Dr. Nizar Mahomed, the orthopedic surgeon who manages the international patient program at UHN, objects to the term medical tourism. “From our perspective the definition we’re working with is humanitarian. Providing health care to those people who don’t have access within that home jurisdiction.”

Dr. Mahomed said the money allowed the hospital to open up two new beds and an operating room. He insists no public funds were used and all the revenue went to improve treatment and reduce wait times for Ontarians.

“I think we’ve taken great care and lengths to create a process whereby we ensure that no Ontarian is bumped or disenfranchised by this activity,” said Dr. Mahomed...

Personally, I'm not so sure about the 'humanitarian' justification given that these folks obviously have a whack of dough but maybe not enough for the Mayo, Sloan Kettering or  MD Anderson south of the border.

But still, given the squeezing of budgets by the fine folks we elect to throw the really big public money at projects that will benefit private concerns, I can see why the University Hospital Network in Toronto is doing this.

But, hey!

I have an idea....

Perhaps the good people of the GTA should hold a referendum regarding a regional sales tax to more fully fund the UHN?


That would take Premier Wynn off the hook wouldn't it?

And wasn't the good Ms. Wynn photo-opping up the whazzoo with you know who just last week?



North Van's Grumps said...

Wynn's Photo Op doesn't have an office like Christy's view of the North Shore Mountains from Canada Place

RossK said...


Ya, well it's possible that...In the Center-Of-The-Universe that is Queen's Park, downtown T.O., you can only see in, not out.


Frank said...

Budget cutting seems to be endemic.

RossK said...

Endemic, indeed.

Thanks Frank.


Anonymous said...