Will for-profit healthcare make the system cheaper and better?
It’s been three years since the start of the pandemic, plus why there are so many approved homes don’t get built.
We’ve hit that part of the year where the days are awfully dreary. On the other hand, with the time change, it’s nice to have some daylight into the late afternoon. We may not be there yet, but pretty soon, we’re going to be on the other side of winter.
Until then, we’ve got a newsletter. Today’s has a bit of info on whether for-profit healthcare delivery is any cheaper or more efficient, and the many obstacles facing cheap daycare. Plus a smattering of news from all around town.
Let’s get to it.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Wednesday: +2 🌡️ -4 | 🌤
Thursday: +3 🌡️ -2 | ❄️ (chance of flurries)
Friday: 0 🌡️ -1 | ❄️ (periods of snow)
Hard to find evidence for-profit healthcare is cheaper or more efficient
What happened: A new analysis of healthcare data shows for-profit healthcare is neither cheaper nor more efficient than the public system, according to CBC. Knee replacement in a for-profit clinic can cost as much as $28,000, a similar procedure in a public hospital runs less than half that, at about $10,000.
New rules: The province has opened up certain procedures to for-profit clinics. The Riverside Hospital and the Focus Eye Centre are two Ottawa locations at the forefront of generating profit from health care. Riverside has started a pilot program to rent out their operating rooms to orthopaedic surgeons on the weekend on a for-profit basis; and Focus Eye will be one of the early clinics taking on OHIP clients for cataract surgeries.
In 2011 the BC government bought out two MRI clinics it had outsourced scans to because of high costs, and in 2014 ended contracts with cataract surgery centres because of costs, CBC reported.
Transparency: A major problem is clinics and governments are reluctant to disclose the terms of any agreements between them. This means it is difficult to evaluate any cost-saving or time-saving claims made about the deals.
Wait times: Another of the supposed benefits of for-profit healthcare is it reduces wait times. Last year, Ontario had the best performance of all the provinces for getting hip and knee replacements within six months at 73 percent, according to Canadian Institute of Health Information data.
That beats out three provinces with for-profit clinics already in use: British Columbia (70 percent), Alberta (53 percent) and Quebec (48 percent), CBC reported.
Staffing: The biggest issue in hospitals is staffing, particularly of nurses. The fear is that by opening procedures up to for-profit providers, those problems will only get worse, starting a spiral where workers leave the public system for higher wages in the for-profit system in greater and greater numbers, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
📈 $1,921: The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in February. That’s up 13.4 percent year over year, but down slightly, 1.5 percent, from the previous month. [Rentals.ca]
🚑 2,571: The number of ambulance calls Leeds and Grenville answered in Ottawa between 2018 and 2022, which has so far cost the county about $950,000. [Ottawa Citizen]
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🍀 The city of Kingston and Queen’s University are bracing themselves for big St. Patrick’s Day parties this year. [CBC]
🔥 Many of the dozens of residents forced from their homes by a fire in Overbrook are struggling to find a new place to live and rebuild their lives. [CTV]
🚔 A woman from near Barry’s Bay west of the city has been charged with animal cruelty and other charges after authorities found 38 dogs in horrible conditions. Nineteen of the dogs are in need of immediate foster homes. [CTV]
🚧 Commuters in the east end are frustrated by LRT construction lane reductions to the 174 near Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard that they say were poorly communicated in advance. [CTV]
💥 Minto has agreed to pay homeowners waiting to take possession of homes damaged by the Orléans explosion to make up for delays caused by the blast. [CBC]
🚨 Police are looking for a man who they allege sexually assaulted a girl under the age of 16 in Barrhaven. [CTV]
The city will be opening up a new “pocket park” in Wellington Village after it acquired an old home to turn into more greenspace. [Kitchissippi Times]
Will the promise of $10/day daycare come to pass?
What happened: Just as the $10 per day daycare plan begins to get into motion, there’s serious concern a lack of staff will mean the program may never fully roll out. The province estimates 15,000 early childhood educators need to be hired in the next three years, CBC reported. Without those staff, the system will never reach the promised 86,000 daycare spots.
The province forecasts it will fall 8,500 workers short of that target, The Canadian Press reported.
The problem: Early childhood educators don’t stick around very long in the industry, with the average worker leaving after three years. It comes down to low wages. The wage floor agreed to by the province and the federal government is $18 per hour, CBC reported.
Assuming they work 35 hours per week, that’s $33,390 per year. The Ontario Living Wage Network estimates workers need at least $19.60 per hour to make ends meet in Ottawa. The wage floor is expected to rise $1 per year up to $25 per hour, but that may not be enough.
“While we have billions of dollars going to provinces and to municipalities for child care, the child-care workers who are delivering these programs, they haven't seen anything,” Jess Tomas of the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario told CBC.
The association is calling for a $25 minimum wage for staff who aren’t formally trained as early childhood educators, and $30 per hour for registered workers, The Canadian Press reported.
💰 The provincial government said it would make cities whole after limiting their ability to raise money from developers. But it hasn’t started the process of finding out how much it should pay, never mind writing cheques. [The Canadian Press]
🚧 The city recently told the Lookout the re-opening of Wellington is still in the planning stages, and a timeline for reopening will be announced later. Coun. Ariel Troster said plans are moving forward on the bike lane, and the street will open once it’s in place. [Twitter]
🏥 A man who had possibly life-saving brain surgery done in the U.S. when the Ottawa Hospital couldn’t give him a timeline for a procedure has given up trying to recoup the $570,000 cost from OHIP. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚨 A hockey team of Ottawa police officers were photographed in thin blue line jerseys for a charity game against the fire service. While officers are banned from wearing the symbol on duty, the police union paid for the jerseys, Coun. Ariel Troster said the chief told her. [Twitter]
👷♂️ The Ontario government will open up apprenticeship programs full-time to Grade 11 students, but questions remain about how it will work. [Ottawa Citizen]
🍷 Small Ontario wineries are asking the province to remove extra fees on local wines that don’t have VQA certification. Taxes on wines are 28 percent higher for non-VQA bottles sold in restaurants. [CBC]
🚛 A judge approved a larger area of residents to join the class-action lawsuit against convoy organizers and others. The US-based online fundraiser GiveSendGo has also been added to the list of defendants. [Twitter]
👩💻 The province has proposed new rules to give stay-at-home workers the same rights as in-office employees in the event of layoffs. The new rules would give at-home workers a minimum of eight weeks notice or pay in the event of job loss. [CTV]
⚖️ A mother has now been charged with second-degree murder and criminal negligence causing death in the death of a seven-week-old baby. [CTV]
SPONSORED BY MĀDAHÒKÌ FARM
Everyone is invited to reconnect with the land while learning about Indigenous traditions. Register for a workshop, shop at the Indigenous Maker’s Market, enjoy live performances, Indigenous cuisine and more!
Paddle Painting ($30) | March 16 | Available at 12 pm and 2 pm
Galaxy Painting Workshop/Just Add Feathers ($15) | March 17th | Available at 12 pm and 2 pm
Free Family Festival | March 18 and 19
Mādahòkì Farm is located at 4420 W Hunt Club Rd. See the full event list.
INSIDER CITY HALL
Shape the rules, shape the city
This story is available for Insider City Hall members. Consider becoming a member today and support independent journalism that investigates and explores the issues happening at city hall and across Ottawa
What happened: The previous council passed a new official plan which was then amended by the provincial government on its way to approval. Plans are all well and good, but what comes next is the part that matters: building new bylaws to enact the official plan’s vision. Enter the zoning bylaw review.
It will be a major overhaul of the city’s maze of rules about what can be built where. The main goals of the plan are to make it easier to build housing that’s denser and more eco friendly to the city, while making neighbourhoods easier to get around.
What we have now: Essentially, the city wants to replace its labyrinth zoning system with one that’s more straightforward. Right now there are five main zones R1 to R5, and 140 sub-zones. Each of these have similar but distinct rules for what can be built in an area. As the city said, “Most of these zones are decades old and distinguished by minor differences between requirements for minimum building setbacks and lot sizes.”
🏒 If the Sens are going to make the playoffs, they’re going to have to pull themselves together after a weekend of poor performance. [Ottawa Citizen]
🥅 The league is likely close to having a shortlist of potential buyers for the Senators, and could have a deal in principle with a buyer sometime next month. [Ottawa Sun]
🏈 The Redblacks coaching staff met briefly in town in preparation for training camp this spring. [Ottawa Sun]
Congrats to Adam and Chantal who both knew that Mayor Mark Sutcliffe promised Ottawa would build 100,000 homes over the next decade.
Do you know where today’s Ottawa Guesser is? The first five people to respond correctly get their names mentioned in the newsletter.
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