As Ontario Expands Private Healthcare Delivery, More Provinces Will Inevitably Follow

Canada’s socialized healthcare system is an unsustainable outlier, and no amount of fear-mongering about private healthcare can change the underlying reality.

Ontario has announced they will expand the private delivery of healthcare services, in an effort to ease surgical backlogs.

The government announced a three-step plan, which you can view below:

“Step One: Ontario is urgently tackling the existing backlog for cataract surgeries, which has one of the longest waits for procedures. New partnerships with community surgical and diagnostic centres in Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ottawa will add 14,000 additional cataract surgeries that will be performed each year. This number represents up to 25% of the province’s current cataract waitlist, and accounts for the estimated COVID-related backlog of cataract surgeries. These centres will perform the 14,000 additional surgeries with existing health human resources.

Ontario is also investing more than $18 million in existing centres to cover care for thousands of patients, including more than 49,000 hours of MRI and CT scans, 4,800 cataract surgeries, 900 other ophthalmic surgeries, 1,000 minimally invasive gynecological surgeries and 2,845 plastic surgeries such as hand soft tissue repair. Surgical wait lists are anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels by March 2023, barring operational issues.

Step Two: To further reduce wait times, Ontario is expanding the scope of community surgical and diagnostic centres to address regional needs with a continued focus on cataracts, as well as MRI and CT imaging and colonoscopy and endoscopy procedures. To start as early as 2023, these procedures will be non-urgent, low-risk and minimally invasive and, in addition to shortening wait times, will allow hospitals to focus their efforts and resources on more complex and high-risk surgeries.

Step Three: Early detection and diagnosis of a health issue has an immense benefit on a patient’s quality of life, prognosis and treatment path. As a next step, the government will introduce legislation in February that will, if passed, allow existing community diagnostic centres to conduct more MRI and CT scanning so that people can access publicly funded diagnostic services faster and closer to home. Starting in 2024, this next step will also expand surgeries for hip and knee replacements. Legislative changes will also, if passed, strengthen oversight of community surgical settings so that patients can continue to expect to receive the world class care they know and deserve and provide the province with more flexibility to continue to expand access to more surgeries and further reduce wait times. As the province expands the role of community surgical and diagnostic centres, Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health will continue to work with system partners and clinical experts to put in place the highest standards for quality and safety.”

Note, when the Ontario government says “community surgical and diagnostic centres,” they are referring to privately-run, for-profit centres. They are clearly worried about using the word ‘private’ or ‘profit’, hence the government-speak.

On Twitter, Ontario Premier Doug Ford gave a nod to the political firestorm that is sure to result, saying the time for ideological debates on healthcare is over:

“When it comes to your health, the status quo is no longer okay.

That’s why we’re shortening wait times by expanding community surgical and diagnostic centres. The days of endless ideological debates are over. You need action, and we’re delivering.”

Ford is right here.

Canada’s socialized healthcare system has long been crumbling, and it remains an unsustainable outlier.

Many countries – particularly in Europe – provide better healthcare at a lower cost (in terms of overall spending), while mixing both private and public delivery.

Canadians often think that ‘public’ and ‘universal’ mean the same thing, but many countries allow individuals to use their government healthcard to ‘pay’ for services at private clinics/hospitals, which then bill the government.

Thus, universal access is maintained.

Many still defend Canada’s crumbling system however, opposing any type of change or innovation and standing against any private sector involvement.

Such a rigid ideological approach is emblematic of a failing system, and it’s an approach that must be overcome.

Sooner or later, every province in the country will do what Ontario is doing (many already do so), because every province will have to address the fact that our socialized healthcare system simply isn’t competitive or innovative enough to deliver the healthcare Canadians expect.

And the list of services handled by private clinics will only continue to grow.

Canada will end up with a system that is similar to the countries that mix private and public delivery, and no amount of rhetoric or resistance to reality can change that.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube


If you value my independent & rational perspective and are financially able, you can contribute to support my work through PayPal or Stripe below. Your support is always deeply appreciated.


[simpay id=”28904″]