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Health Spending Gone Awry

(Queen's Park Report - February 18, 2010) I want to tell you about Ontario's bloated health bureaucracy and the administrative costs that are diverting scarce healthcare dollars away from you and your family and towards salaries and benefits.

In 2006 Dalton McGuinty created an additional layer of health bureaucracy when he setup fourteen Local Health Integration Networks.  These unelected and largely unaccountable boards are tasked with managing health dollars on behalf of Dalton McGuinty, including the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN and the Central LHIN in our area.

How are these agencies spending our money?  Since 2006-07 they used up $176 million on salaries and administration.  While they have only been around for a few years, that hasn't stopped them from increasing executive salaries by a whopping 213%.  The number of people making over $100,000 has more than doubled, including 15 executives who are now making over $200,000 a year.  In fact, the average LHIN CEO makes more than $260,000 a year, a full $53,000 more than Dalton McGuinty - the guy they work for.  I'd say that's a pretty expensive group of middle managers.

Locally, they also have a penchant for sending out glossy brochures filled with fluffy material that doesn't even begin to address the needs of seniors in need of care.

The people who serve on these boards are all Liberal appointees, handpicked by Dalton McGuinty and the Minister of Health.    These agencies act on Dalton McGuinty's orders, and in doing so, they provide the government with cover when an unpopular decision needs to be made, like the closure of an emergency room or a cut to homecare.

Opposition Leader Tim Hudak is calling these agencies "the sons of eHealth," and with good reason.  Invoices reveal that many of the same consultants who were getting rich off of eHealth were getting even richer by billing LHINs at the same time.  In fact, one consultant who happens to be Dalton McGuinty's former health advisor, billed $80,000 to the Toronto Central LHIN at the exact same time she was getting paid $327 an hour by eHealth to, among other things, write a letter to a Liberal pollster not even involved with eHealth.

This diversion of much needed health dollars is significant.  As an MPP, I receive phone calls all the time from constituents who can't find doctors, timely medical procedures, long-term care beds or homecare for loved ones.  At the same time, I hear from hospitals that are facing deficits, nursing homes that want to expand to meet demand, and other health agencies that are struggling.  A lot of these problems can be solved with just a fraction of the money that is being spent on the handsome salaries for executives and consultants.

These are the types of things in government that drive MPPs like me mad.  These unelected and unaccountable boards and consultants spend our money frivolously.  They are largely anonymous agencies that don't have to answer to the media or face the public in an all-candidates debate.  This is our money, not theirs.  Dalton McGuinty needs to reign in these agencies for the good of the taxpayer and for the health of Ontarians.

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