The McGuinty Liberals in Ontario have had a good time changing the way public services operate. Although in history he intends to go down as “The Education Premier,” or the “Healthcare Premier,” he may better go down as the “ORNGE Premier”, or better yet, “Premier Dad.” It is one thing to read about a change of policy in the news and another to see its impact on your day-to-day life. Although we are aware that Premier McGuinty has introduced all day kindergarten (another service that Ontario can not afford), cancelled a power plant (to win an election), and engaged in the infamous scandal that is ORNGE, it is one of his changes to healthcare that has frustrated me the most.
Today I called my family doctor to book an annual physical. Although I must say, most people do not look forward to their annual physicals, as society we have come to view it as necessary. Better to have a quick check up and nip any problems in the bud, than to let them fester, grow, and eventually require treatment. When I got on the phone with the receptionist I stated, “I would like to book my physical”. And she said no. When I inquired as to why, she said that annual physicals were delisted by OHIP, and are now only covered for those under 18 and over 65. “That’s not a concern, I would still like to book it. My family has insurance.” Again, she said no. I inquired as to why, and she told me that it was actually illegal for them to charge me for a physical, under the new health care laws and that thus I could not have one (unless I were to go to a private practice, I suppose).
On one hand, I was (and still am) frustrated. Why can’t I get an annual physical with the doctor that I have had since birth? I have a comfortable relationship with her, which is important. I am comfortable telling her about concerns and questions I may have. Does this mean that I should get a different doctor who I don’t know to do so? Does this mean that as a taxpayer, I must both pay into OHIP, and for a private practice to preform an annual physical? I should think that if I am willing to pay for her services, I should be able to receive the same level of service that I did before the delisting. I understand that Ontario is billions in debt, and cost saving measures are necessary. On the other hand, I have seen my provincial taxes rise, and my services fall as the debt increases. This may be a cost saving measure, and for Ontario’s Liberals, any step forward is a good step. However there are billions in spending that could easily be cut, or at very least have implemented a better policy. This is a direct result of the financial mismanagement of Ontario’s Liberals, who claim to hold healthcare so dear to their heart.
Upon further research I learned that the Liberals were planning to replace the annual physical with a new type of physical. I find it odd that they did not introduce the new type of physical the day they delisted the current physical. Perhaps this is an instance where the Liberals need a dash of common sense, something often lacking in government policy. Would it not make sense to the average person that when one changes front line services, it is better to introduce the changes at once than it is to cancel it, and re-introduce it months later? I suppose we will have to wait and see what new government policy rolls out. I hope that it will not leave those from 19-64 without access to an annual physical with a family doctor.
Although I applaud McGuinty’s Liberals for trying to find a cost saving measure I have a few suggestions of areas where they can “trim the fat” and go on a New Year’s Resolution. I suggest scrapping all day kindergarten, paying down the debt, and reducing regulations on businesses. Within the health care sector, they must let the private sector take on a greater responsibility. Individuals should have the choice as to where they receive their treatment, and from whom. The private sector should be permitted to provide any service the public sector can. I bet that, given the opportunity, the private sector would not only find ways to improve services, but also find ways to reduce costs. As long as the government stifles innovation, and lacks accountability to patients (both consumers and tax payers), we will continue to find not only inconveniences in day-to-day living, but also a set of government services that Ontario tax payers just can’t afford.