First person: the provincial candidates speak out on local issues

News Sep 20, 2007 Flamborough Review

With three weeks to go on the campaign trail, the five candidates running for the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale seat have agreed to provide answers on the issues for publication in the Review. This week they weigh in on health care: "When it comes to health care reform, what do you believe is the key issue to improving patient care in Ontario?"

* * *

David Januczkowski - Green Party

I believe that the key issue is prevention. It is much easier and much less costly to prevent illness rather than treat it. That's one of the most attractive aspects of Green Party policy - a holistic, forward-thinking approach to wellness that will allow our community to finally bring our health care costs under control. Unless we break away from our current debacle in which environmental toxins and unhealthy lifestyle choices manifest serious diseases and expensive pharmaceuticals, many with serious side effects, are then required for treatment, health care costs will continue to spiral out of control.

I believe in a publicly funded and publicly delivered health care system that delivers effective results with low wait times. To protect our system, a Green Party government will dramatically reduce our exposure to toxins (including carcinogens and hormone disruptors) through policies that will lead to cleaner air and water. We will phase out the Ontario Health Premium Tax and phase in a $1,000 per person Health Care Allowance that can be used for prescription drugs and/or care from any practitioner regulated by the Health Professional Act. This will provide the flexibility Ontarians require to deal with a myriad of complex health care issues, regardless of their income or whether or not they have private medical insurance.

A Green Party government will also double spending on prevention by doubling the budget of the Ministry of Health Promotion. Details of these and other innovative health care policies can be found at www.gpo.ca.

* * *

Ted McMeekin - Liberal

For the past four years, we've worked hard to improve our health care system. When we formed government, health care was in a state of disrepair. Under the Conservatives, hospitals were closed and nurses were compared to hula-hoop workers.

Our government has made significant progress in improving patient care by increasing access, empowering patients and promoting wellness and prevention. Half a million more Ontarians have a family doctor, we're hiring 8,000 nurses, 150 new Family Health Teams and more than $1.34 billion has been invested in the Hamilton area alone.

I've learned that what gets measured, gets done. For the first time, we now measure and report on wait-times throughout the province in key areas and wait-times are down. We will expand on this success by focusing on emergency room visits, children's and general surgery. Further, we will create an electronic health record and give patients control over this information.

Moving forward, we will continue to support Ontario's seniors by implementing our $700 million Aging at Home Strategy, providing financial caregivers and improving the level of care in long-term care homes.

Ontario is now the national leader in newborn screening for disorders. New publicly-funded immunizations save families up to $600 per child. We will build on early detection and vaccination programs and the effective treatment of cancer. We will cover the cost of both the PSA test to detect prostate cancer and HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

As our population ages, reliance on our health-care system will increase. That's why it's vital that we continue to invest. The health-care premium has allowed us to invest close to an additional $3 billion per year in our health care system; all told we've increased funding by $9 billion more per year.

We're on the right path - let's keep moving forward, together.

* * *

Chris Corrigan - PC

Improving patient care in Ontario's health care system is important to me, and also to a John Tory PC government.

That's why in our party platform we've committed 5 per cent more, or an additional $8.5 billion to health care over the next four years. How will we pay for this? By focusing spending on priorities - of which health care is clearly a priority. The cynical $25 billion pre-election spending spree by Dalton McGuinty and the $32 million wasted in unaccountable "Slughgate" grants to their friends shows there's clearly the money to get better results and better patient care.

We also need good ideas. Here's just one example. We will implement the e-health record system that doctors, nurses and hospitals have been asking for. It will help modernize health care in this province - moving from the stone age to the 21st Century, improving the speed and quality of care in the process.

I believe, and John Tory believes, that if we really want to improve patient care rather than just talk about it, we have to start listening to our doctors, nurses and specialists on the front line. My wife Megan is a nurse and so we know this first hand.

In May, 2004 Dalton McGuinty broke his promise not to raise taxes and imposed a massive, regressive health tax where the money didn't actually go to health care. Our emergency rooms remain clogged. Don't let Dalton McGuinty abuse your trust again.

My word is my bond. We can and must do better.

* * *

Jim Enos - Family Coalition Party

As there are many aspects to health care, it is difficult to identify one specific key to improving patient care. Based on recent family experiences of families dealing with knee replacement, cancer treatment, walk-in clinics, emergency services and family doctors, I would like to first discuss how we found patient care under these areas.

We found the care with regard to knee replacement and cancer treatment to be good to excellent and administered by caring professionals. It was our observation, however, that these professionals are overloaded and there is legitimate need for additional staff, the cost of which would be partially offset by reduced overtime. Walk-in clinics and emergency services access has been poor for wait-times, but good once the service is obtained. Family doctor accessibility has also been difficult at times.

From the above, I believe there is a need for additional health care professionals. However, I would want to see this met without additional monies. This would mean decreasing/eliminating spending in some areas. The Family Coalition Party of Ontario would work to eliminate the funding of abortion. We also propose Medical Savings Accounts, a system that encourages wise use of medical services by crediting taxpayers who do not use their annual allotment with RRSP contributions from the remaining available monies.

Personally, I believe that surcharges should be charged to those who participate in behaviours that are clearly identified as high-risk by the medical community. This is already the case in private insurance and helps to make individuals more accountable for their own health and conduct; a key component in self-sufficiency.

* * *

Juanita Maldonado - NDP

When Ontarians need eye exams, the balance on their credit card shouldn't be their first concern. When medical emergencies require trips to the ER, patients shouldn't have to line hospital corridors to wait for a doctor. Under McGuinty, wait-times are up and once-public services have been delisted.

Right here in our own riding, the publicly-funded St. Joseph's Medical Lab in Dundas was allowed to close in favour of MDS, a private for-profit facility.

When in opposition, Liberals condemned Conservative plans for privatization of health care - as premier, McGuinty has increased the pace of privatization, not reversed it. They've "out-Toried" the Tories!

We need a government with integrity - one that will follow through on the promise to hire more nurses and doctors so patients aren't left waiting in hospital hallways for medical treatment.

I believe in ensuring health dollars go to patients not profits. We need a minimum standard of care for seniors, fully staffed emergency rooms, and restoration of services like eye exams, chiropractic care and physiotherapy that the Liberals unfairly delisted.

The NDP's health tax rebate will restore the balance that was lost when Dalton McGuinty introduced his regressive Health Tax - a tax that unfairly hit hardest the families who can afford it the least. Howard Hampton's NDP will provide a health tax rebate of up to $450 per person and $900 per two-income family.

On October 10th, a vote for the NDP is a vote for strengthening our public health care system.

First person: the provincial candidates speak out on local issues

News Sep 20, 2007 Flamborough Review

With three weeks to go on the campaign trail, the five candidates running for the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale seat have agreed to provide answers on the issues for publication in the Review. This week they weigh in on health care: "When it comes to health care reform, what do you believe is the key issue to improving patient care in Ontario?"

* * *

David Januczkowski - Green Party

I believe that the key issue is prevention. It is much easier and much less costly to prevent illness rather than treat it. That's one of the most attractive aspects of Green Party policy - a holistic, forward-thinking approach to wellness that will allow our community to finally bring our health care costs under control. Unless we break away from our current debacle in which environmental toxins and unhealthy lifestyle choices manifest serious diseases and expensive pharmaceuticals, many with serious side effects, are then required for treatment, health care costs will continue to spiral out of control.

I believe in a publicly funded and publicly delivered health care system that delivers effective results with low wait times. To protect our system, a Green Party government will dramatically reduce our exposure to toxins (including carcinogens and hormone disruptors) through policies that will lead to cleaner air and water. We will phase out the Ontario Health Premium Tax and phase in a $1,000 per person Health Care Allowance that can be used for prescription drugs and/or care from any practitioner regulated by the Health Professional Act. This will provide the flexibility Ontarians require to deal with a myriad of complex health care issues, regardless of their income or whether or not they have private medical insurance.

A Green Party government will also double spending on prevention by doubling the budget of the Ministry of Health Promotion. Details of these and other innovative health care policies can be found at www.gpo.ca.

* * *

Ted McMeekin - Liberal

For the past four years, we've worked hard to improve our health care system. When we formed government, health care was in a state of disrepair. Under the Conservatives, hospitals were closed and nurses were compared to hula-hoop workers.

Our government has made significant progress in improving patient care by increasing access, empowering patients and promoting wellness and prevention. Half a million more Ontarians have a family doctor, we're hiring 8,000 nurses, 150 new Family Health Teams and more than $1.34 billion has been invested in the Hamilton area alone.

I've learned that what gets measured, gets done. For the first time, we now measure and report on wait-times throughout the province in key areas and wait-times are down. We will expand on this success by focusing on emergency room visits, children's and general surgery. Further, we will create an electronic health record and give patients control over this information.

Moving forward, we will continue to support Ontario's seniors by implementing our $700 million Aging at Home Strategy, providing financial caregivers and improving the level of care in long-term care homes.

Ontario is now the national leader in newborn screening for disorders. New publicly-funded immunizations save families up to $600 per child. We will build on early detection and vaccination programs and the effective treatment of cancer. We will cover the cost of both the PSA test to detect prostate cancer and HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

As our population ages, reliance on our health-care system will increase. That's why it's vital that we continue to invest. The health-care premium has allowed us to invest close to an additional $3 billion per year in our health care system; all told we've increased funding by $9 billion more per year.

We're on the right path - let's keep moving forward, together.

* * *

Chris Corrigan - PC

Improving patient care in Ontario's health care system is important to me, and also to a John Tory PC government.

That's why in our party platform we've committed 5 per cent more, or an additional $8.5 billion to health care over the next four years. How will we pay for this? By focusing spending on priorities - of which health care is clearly a priority. The cynical $25 billion pre-election spending spree by Dalton McGuinty and the $32 million wasted in unaccountable "Slughgate" grants to their friends shows there's clearly the money to get better results and better patient care.

We also need good ideas. Here's just one example. We will implement the e-health record system that doctors, nurses and hospitals have been asking for. It will help modernize health care in this province - moving from the stone age to the 21st Century, improving the speed and quality of care in the process.

I believe, and John Tory believes, that if we really want to improve patient care rather than just talk about it, we have to start listening to our doctors, nurses and specialists on the front line. My wife Megan is a nurse and so we know this first hand.

In May, 2004 Dalton McGuinty broke his promise not to raise taxes and imposed a massive, regressive health tax where the money didn't actually go to health care. Our emergency rooms remain clogged. Don't let Dalton McGuinty abuse your trust again.

My word is my bond. We can and must do better.

* * *

Jim Enos - Family Coalition Party

As there are many aspects to health care, it is difficult to identify one specific key to improving patient care. Based on recent family experiences of families dealing with knee replacement, cancer treatment, walk-in clinics, emergency services and family doctors, I would like to first discuss how we found patient care under these areas.

We found the care with regard to knee replacement and cancer treatment to be good to excellent and administered by caring professionals. It was our observation, however, that these professionals are overloaded and there is legitimate need for additional staff, the cost of which would be partially offset by reduced overtime. Walk-in clinics and emergency services access has been poor for wait-times, but good once the service is obtained. Family doctor accessibility has also been difficult at times.

From the above, I believe there is a need for additional health care professionals. However, I would want to see this met without additional monies. This would mean decreasing/eliminating spending in some areas. The Family Coalition Party of Ontario would work to eliminate the funding of abortion. We also propose Medical Savings Accounts, a system that encourages wise use of medical services by crediting taxpayers who do not use their annual allotment with RRSP contributions from the remaining available monies.

Personally, I believe that surcharges should be charged to those who participate in behaviours that are clearly identified as high-risk by the medical community. This is already the case in private insurance and helps to make individuals more accountable for their own health and conduct; a key component in self-sufficiency.

* * *

Juanita Maldonado - NDP

When Ontarians need eye exams, the balance on their credit card shouldn't be their first concern. When medical emergencies require trips to the ER, patients shouldn't have to line hospital corridors to wait for a doctor. Under McGuinty, wait-times are up and once-public services have been delisted.

Right here in our own riding, the publicly-funded St. Joseph's Medical Lab in Dundas was allowed to close in favour of MDS, a private for-profit facility.

When in opposition, Liberals condemned Conservative plans for privatization of health care - as premier, McGuinty has increased the pace of privatization, not reversed it. They've "out-Toried" the Tories!

We need a government with integrity - one that will follow through on the promise to hire more nurses and doctors so patients aren't left waiting in hospital hallways for medical treatment.

I believe in ensuring health dollars go to patients not profits. We need a minimum standard of care for seniors, fully staffed emergency rooms, and restoration of services like eye exams, chiropractic care and physiotherapy that the Liberals unfairly delisted.

The NDP's health tax rebate will restore the balance that was lost when Dalton McGuinty introduced his regressive Health Tax - a tax that unfairly hit hardest the families who can afford it the least. Howard Hampton's NDP will provide a health tax rebate of up to $450 per person and $900 per two-income family.

On October 10th, a vote for the NDP is a vote for strengthening our public health care system.

First person: the provincial candidates speak out on local issues

News Sep 20, 2007 Flamborough Review

With three weeks to go on the campaign trail, the five candidates running for the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale seat have agreed to provide answers on the issues for publication in the Review. This week they weigh in on health care: "When it comes to health care reform, what do you believe is the key issue to improving patient care in Ontario?"

* * *

David Januczkowski - Green Party

I believe that the key issue is prevention. It is much easier and much less costly to prevent illness rather than treat it. That's one of the most attractive aspects of Green Party policy - a holistic, forward-thinking approach to wellness that will allow our community to finally bring our health care costs under control. Unless we break away from our current debacle in which environmental toxins and unhealthy lifestyle choices manifest serious diseases and expensive pharmaceuticals, many with serious side effects, are then required for treatment, health care costs will continue to spiral out of control.

I believe in a publicly funded and publicly delivered health care system that delivers effective results with low wait times. To protect our system, a Green Party government will dramatically reduce our exposure to toxins (including carcinogens and hormone disruptors) through policies that will lead to cleaner air and water. We will phase out the Ontario Health Premium Tax and phase in a $1,000 per person Health Care Allowance that can be used for prescription drugs and/or care from any practitioner regulated by the Health Professional Act. This will provide the flexibility Ontarians require to deal with a myriad of complex health care issues, regardless of their income or whether or not they have private medical insurance.

A Green Party government will also double spending on prevention by doubling the budget of the Ministry of Health Promotion. Details of these and other innovative health care policies can be found at www.gpo.ca.

* * *

Ted McMeekin - Liberal

For the past four years, we've worked hard to improve our health care system. When we formed government, health care was in a state of disrepair. Under the Conservatives, hospitals were closed and nurses were compared to hula-hoop workers.

Our government has made significant progress in improving patient care by increasing access, empowering patients and promoting wellness and prevention. Half a million more Ontarians have a family doctor, we're hiring 8,000 nurses, 150 new Family Health Teams and more than $1.34 billion has been invested in the Hamilton area alone.

I've learned that what gets measured, gets done. For the first time, we now measure and report on wait-times throughout the province in key areas and wait-times are down. We will expand on this success by focusing on emergency room visits, children's and general surgery. Further, we will create an electronic health record and give patients control over this information.

Moving forward, we will continue to support Ontario's seniors by implementing our $700 million Aging at Home Strategy, providing financial caregivers and improving the level of care in long-term care homes.

Ontario is now the national leader in newborn screening for disorders. New publicly-funded immunizations save families up to $600 per child. We will build on early detection and vaccination programs and the effective treatment of cancer. We will cover the cost of both the PSA test to detect prostate cancer and HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

As our population ages, reliance on our health-care system will increase. That's why it's vital that we continue to invest. The health-care premium has allowed us to invest close to an additional $3 billion per year in our health care system; all told we've increased funding by $9 billion more per year.

We're on the right path - let's keep moving forward, together.

* * *

Chris Corrigan - PC

Improving patient care in Ontario's health care system is important to me, and also to a John Tory PC government.

That's why in our party platform we've committed 5 per cent more, or an additional $8.5 billion to health care over the next four years. How will we pay for this? By focusing spending on priorities - of which health care is clearly a priority. The cynical $25 billion pre-election spending spree by Dalton McGuinty and the $32 million wasted in unaccountable "Slughgate" grants to their friends shows there's clearly the money to get better results and better patient care.

We also need good ideas. Here's just one example. We will implement the e-health record system that doctors, nurses and hospitals have been asking for. It will help modernize health care in this province - moving from the stone age to the 21st Century, improving the speed and quality of care in the process.

I believe, and John Tory believes, that if we really want to improve patient care rather than just talk about it, we have to start listening to our doctors, nurses and specialists on the front line. My wife Megan is a nurse and so we know this first hand.

In May, 2004 Dalton McGuinty broke his promise not to raise taxes and imposed a massive, regressive health tax where the money didn't actually go to health care. Our emergency rooms remain clogged. Don't let Dalton McGuinty abuse your trust again.

My word is my bond. We can and must do better.

* * *

Jim Enos - Family Coalition Party

As there are many aspects to health care, it is difficult to identify one specific key to improving patient care. Based on recent family experiences of families dealing with knee replacement, cancer treatment, walk-in clinics, emergency services and family doctors, I would like to first discuss how we found patient care under these areas.

We found the care with regard to knee replacement and cancer treatment to be good to excellent and administered by caring professionals. It was our observation, however, that these professionals are overloaded and there is legitimate need for additional staff, the cost of which would be partially offset by reduced overtime. Walk-in clinics and emergency services access has been poor for wait-times, but good once the service is obtained. Family doctor accessibility has also been difficult at times.

From the above, I believe there is a need for additional health care professionals. However, I would want to see this met without additional monies. This would mean decreasing/eliminating spending in some areas. The Family Coalition Party of Ontario would work to eliminate the funding of abortion. We also propose Medical Savings Accounts, a system that encourages wise use of medical services by crediting taxpayers who do not use their annual allotment with RRSP contributions from the remaining available monies.

Personally, I believe that surcharges should be charged to those who participate in behaviours that are clearly identified as high-risk by the medical community. This is already the case in private insurance and helps to make individuals more accountable for their own health and conduct; a key component in self-sufficiency.

* * *

Juanita Maldonado - NDP

When Ontarians need eye exams, the balance on their credit card shouldn't be their first concern. When medical emergencies require trips to the ER, patients shouldn't have to line hospital corridors to wait for a doctor. Under McGuinty, wait-times are up and once-public services have been delisted.

Right here in our own riding, the publicly-funded St. Joseph's Medical Lab in Dundas was allowed to close in favour of MDS, a private for-profit facility.

When in opposition, Liberals condemned Conservative plans for privatization of health care - as premier, McGuinty has increased the pace of privatization, not reversed it. They've "out-Toried" the Tories!

We need a government with integrity - one that will follow through on the promise to hire more nurses and doctors so patients aren't left waiting in hospital hallways for medical treatment.

I believe in ensuring health dollars go to patients not profits. We need a minimum standard of care for seniors, fully staffed emergency rooms, and restoration of services like eye exams, chiropractic care and physiotherapy that the Liberals unfairly delisted.

The NDP's health tax rebate will restore the balance that was lost when Dalton McGuinty introduced his regressive Health Tax - a tax that unfairly hit hardest the families who can afford it the least. Howard Hampton's NDP will provide a health tax rebate of up to $450 per person and $900 per two-income family.

On October 10th, a vote for the NDP is a vote for strengthening our public health care system.