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Unsafe Practices
Restructuring and Privatization in Ontario Health Care

Browne, Paul Leduc
Publisher:  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Ottawa, Canada
Year Published:  2000  
Pages:  176pp   ISBN:  0-88627-234-3
Library of Congress Number:  RA395.C3B76 2000   Dewey:  362.1'09713
Resource Type:  Book

Describes the process of healthcare privatization and its negative impact in Ontario.

Abstract:  In "Unsafe Practices," Brown argues against the privatization of healthcare in Ontario. In a case study of Ontario during the Progressive Conservative government from 1995 to 2000, Brown illustrates the process of healthcare privatization, and how it has negatively impacted Ontario.

First, Brown illustrates how privatization is a process, not simply a specific purchase of government assets or a particular piece of legislation. Given public support of Medicare, such an explicit act would be difficult. What Brown believes Canadians should be alert to, however, is the broader process of privatization. Chapter One thus describes the privatization process as it occurred in Canada. Specifically, how it took place on a federal level, with gradual cuts to healthcare grants to provincial governments, and on a provincial level in Ontario, with the government's neo-conservative healthcare restructuring.

Next, Brown demonstrates privatization's negative impact on healthcare. Predominantly, he argues that the commodification of the right of healthcare by the private sector has resulted in "higher costs, diminished access, less efficiency, lower quality of care, and loss of public control." Consequently, Chapter Two examines the impact of restructuring and privatization of Ontario healthcare services; namely, its effect on hospitals, the workforce, long-term care, ambulance services, user charges, and primary care.

Last, Brown addresses the issue of home care in Ontario in Chapter Three. While acknowledging the potential benefits of home care, he believes its practical benefits are unfortunately limited. Specifically, Brown believes this is because the government's push for home care is really driven by its desire to reduce costs in a sector with many lower-waged or unpaid informal workers. Moreover, home care is also not covered by the Canada Health Act, and is thus rationed with tight eligibility requirements. Most importantly, Brown critiques the current managed competition model's for-profit motive as inherently unsuitable for home care.

[Abstract by Jared Ong]

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