Tiffany Glover, CCSN Policy & Public Affairs Manager, attended the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) Assembly and Conference in Toronto on November 17-18, 2012.
The discussion topic for the first day of the conference was protecting health care in the face of austerity, and included briefings on charting the electoral landscape, key issues and strategies of the political parties, opportunities and challenges under a minority government, charting OHC’s progress on the Key Issues as well as caucus meetings, and the approval of the OHC’s Action Plan for the coming year. Discussion ensued on several topics, including the increasing transfer of money from public to private interests in the province.
The OHC noted that one successful campaign had resulted in a halt in competitive bidding by CCHC’s across the province, which is important to preventing a race to the bottom with contract bids for services. In terms of the political landscape, the current Ontario Liberal leadership race and a possible upcoming election were seen as two key opportunities to raise issues related to health care reform and ensuring that health care in Ontario remains public.
CCSN participated in the lunchtime caucus on home care, with Glover stating that patients going through treatment need more holistic support, such as expansion of the eligibility for the Compassionate Care benefit, so that caregivers can receive financial support.
On the second day there were three keynote speakers who addressed the theme From Tax Loopholes to the 1 %: Funding Health Care in the Public Interest. The first, Dr. Michael Rachlis of Doctors for Fair Taxation, gave the keynote speech in which he discussed the recent Canadian Institute for Health Information report and some of the numbers regarding spending on public health related to GDP. He also presented the idea that doctors can change how they deliver services, and in doing so create a better system that will bring down health costs.
Hugh Mackenzie spoke on Closing the Loopholes: The Employer Health Tax, followed by a session on a session on Funding Implications of P3s, long-term care reform, home care reform, hospital funding changes, other key reforms.
Finally, Professor Neil Brooks from Osgoode Hall Law School discussed his book The Trouble with Billionaires. The main idea throughout the speech was that the tax system is an appropriate and necessarily policy instrument for achieving a more just society by taxing the top 1% and reducing income inequality.