Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak says he wants to increase health spending, open more beds in nursing homes, and expand our homecare system.
But can we trust him to deliver on his promises?
If you were to take a look at his past record, there is a good chance he won’t deliver on any of his promises. In fact, past behavior indicates he is more likely to cut healthcare funding, not increase it.
Back in the 1990s when Tim Hudak was first elected, he was a close confidant of former Conservative Ontario Premier Mike Harris. During the 1995 election Harris also promised to increase healthcare spending. But once he became premier, Harris began to sing a different tune. As premier he shut down 28 hospitals throughout the province. There were fewer places for people to receive care. Instead of driving a few kilometres down the road to your local hospital, you had to drive much, much further. This had a big impact on jobs. Thousands of healthcare workers lost their jobs while Harris was in power.
And Mike Harris to this day continues to be a close associate of Tim Hudak. Harris played a key role in Hudak’s 2011 Ontario election campaign. Today, he appears on TV news broadcasts in strong support of the Hudak agenda. Even some of Tim’s speeches on health policy sound identical to what Harris had said in the 1990s!
Another big problem with Hudak’s promises is where he plans to find the money. The Ontario Conservatives want to cut corporate taxes by 30%. This will take $3.4-billion that is currently spent on important public services Ontarians rely on and award them to large, wealthy corporations. Before Hudak can increase health spending, he will first need to replenish the funds he will be depleting. Where will these funds come from? He isn’t clear.
Hudak claims he will save money by firing 2,000 healthcare planning staff, replace them with volunteers, and offload the costs and responsibilities onto our hospitals. But he is making some very big assumptions. He assumes these staff can be easily replaced with part-time volunteers who can run one of the most complex healthcare systems in North America. Health planning would be so poorly managed that hospitals would probably be forced to rehire many of the same administrators.
Despite all his talk about balancing the books, some elements of Hudak’s plan would increase spending. A key component of his healthcare plan is to allow people to use OHIP dollars on private health clinics. But countless studies have shown that introducing private care will increase the financial strain on our healthcare system. When money is given to private care providers, they are more likely to redirect money from patients to profits. Most people would rather have their taxes spent on patient care rather than line the pockets of healthcare executives.
Once you take a close look at Hudak’s platform, it’s hard to believe he will deliver on any of his healthcare promises. In fact, he has never been sympathetic towards issues that are important to SEIU members. He has promised many times to freeze healthcare wages, dismantle their defined pension plans, and give unionized workers less power in the workplace. Sometimes we need change, but this is not the change healthcare workers are looking for. On June 12th, let’s Stop Hudak and Save Healthcare!