Ford announces bold new plan to cut surgical wait times

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced a new three-step plan to help reduce wait times for surgeries.

The province estimates that over 200,000 Ontarians are currently on the waiting list for operations. The three-step plan will fund private clinics to perform operations: 13,000 cataract surgeries a year, as well as hip and knee replacements. The province will also fund 49,000 hours of additional MRI and CT testing.

“This change, it represents tens of thousands of people all with a chronic illness who will now get the surgery they need sooner every year,” said the Premier.

The three step-plan will fund a phased introduction of each service in private community health centre, to address any challenges in a timely manner.

NDP leader Marit Stiles and NDP health critic France Gelinas attacked the new plan, repeating standard NDP arguments against any health care services not provided by government employees.

“People will end up paying out of pocket and face longer wait times in our hospitals, as (Ford’s) plan drives healthcare workers from our public system,” they said in a news release.

The Premier addressed the NDP narrative directly: “All of these services will be available using your OHIP card, never your credit card,” said Ford.

“A lot of people out there want to have the endless debates about who should provide care,” the Premier added. “All I care about, all health minister Sylvia Jones cares about, all our government cares about, is that you get the care you need quickly and safely. More surgeries, shorter wait times, all paid for by OHIP.”

Shawn Whatley, a medical doctor and senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier institute, supports the move to fund more surgeries in privately-operated community health centres. “Non-hospital facilities go bankrupt when they fail to offer quality services within budget,” said Whatley. “Insolvency risk forces non-hospital facilities towards quality, service, innovation, and efficiency in order to remain viable. Survival depends on their own performance.”

This story was written by Corbin Kelley