Meilinomics II: Income from Within

The following is another excerpt from Dr. Ryan Meili’s new book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy, which fellow blogger Greg Fingas has been discussing. The road to Tevele is red sand and sloppy in the rainy season. The pick- up truck bounces in and out of ruts as we head thirty-some kilometres from […]

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Meilinomics I: The Little Boats

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Ryan Meili’s new book, A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy. There’s a family that comes frequently to the West Side Clinic; we’ll call them Lucas and Annie. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t see them in for a medical visit or just hanging out in […]

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Wall Strikes Out on Fiscal Federalism

Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall recently issued a statement exhorting his fellow Premiers to blaze largely unspecified new trails on healthcare, Employment Insurance and Equalization. Unfortunately, he misses the ball on all three issues. Greg Fingas and Verda Petry have already refuted Wall’s call for further healthcare privatization. On Employment Insurance, Wall implies that eastern Canadians are collecting excessive benefits funded by […]

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A prescription for health care reform: think integration & collaboration

This morning the CCPA released a new report (co-authored by yours truly) that looks at the thorny issue of health care reform in BC (and Canada) and identifies some practical, evidence-based strategies that have been successful in improving quality of care and controlling costs in other jurisdictions. The papers comes out at a time when all Canadian provinces face significant […]

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Impact of Increased Health Privatization on PSE

An article in yesterday’s Village Voice looks at the rising costs of post-secondary education (PSE) in the United States. It points to research suggesting that the “biggest single factor” contributing to the rising cost of PSE for both private and public institutions is the cost of employee health benefits. I would infer from the above that, insofar as Canada moves towards increased privatization […]

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Is Money Enough? The Meaning of 6% and Flaherty’s Health “Plan”

As Christmas presents go, this one was a shocker:  Over lunch on Monday, cash-strapped Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised provincial and territorial finance ministers he’d increase federal funding for health care by six per cent each year for the next five years.  No strings attached. No negotiations.  A done deal.  With a catch. The provinces and territories have five years […]

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Conservative Health Transfers

During the federal election, I noted in a Toronto Star op-ed that the federal Conservative platform entails significant fiscal costs for provincial governments. I accepted the Conservatives’ promise to continue the 6% escalator for the Canada Health Transfer, but worried that they might cut other transfers of similar value. Today, the Finance Minister unveiled plans to discontinue the Canada Health […]

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The Sask Party’s 0.1% Health Plan

The banner headline, in block capitals, on the front page of yesterday’s Regina Leader-Post was “SASK. PARTY HAS FIVE-POINT HEALTH PLAN.” That’s accurate reporting, as far as it goes. The Saskatchewan Party did announce a healthcare plan featuring five points. It would have been similarly accurate to report that this announcement was accompanied by a six-page backgrounder.  However, it would […]

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Sask Party Healthcare Math

Yesterday, the Saskatchewan Party claimed that the provincial NDP’s plan for 30 additional primary healthcare clinics would cost $840 million. It has since removed this goofy press release from its website, but here’s a screenshot. The Sask Party multiplied the Saskatoon Community Clinic’s $7-million annual provincial cost by 30, and then multiplied that total by four years ($7 million*30*4= $840 […]

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Student Debt Rising Amongst New Physicians

Newly-released data indicate that student debt is rising amongst new physicians in Canada. In 2010, 23 percent of medical residents reported having more than $120,000 in education-related debt upon completion of their residency training (as compared with just 17 percent in 2007). (Note: across Canada, average tuition fees for medical students amount to just over $10,000 a year.) This appears to have important implications for Canada’s health […]

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The Ontario NDP Platform

Pollsters tell us that Ontario’s New Democrats may double their seat total in next month’s provincial election. It’s also entirely conceivable that they could be part of a coalition government at Queen’s Park. But what’s actually in the party’s election platform? One central feature of the NDP’s proposals is to implement a tax credit for companies that hire new workers. The tax credits would be valued at […]

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McGuinty Proposes Undergraduate Tuition Grant

An Ontario election is slated for October 6, and the reigning Liberal Party will attempt to pull off a third consecutive majority government. In that vein, the Liberals have recently made a slew of campaign promises in the post-secondary education (PSE) sector. Notably, they’ve committed to reducing undergraduate tuition for “middle-class Ontario families” by 30 percent, amounting to “$1600 per student in […]

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The Double Whammy of Defunding Universities

As I’ve blogged about here, federal funding for post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada is decreasing.  Between 1985-1986 and 2007-2008, annual federal cash transfers to Ontario for PSE (in constant 2007 dollars) decreased from roughly $1.4 billion to just under $1 billion. (Yet, during that same period, PSE enrolment in Ontario increased by more than 60 percent). And as I’ve written about here, during Dalton McGuinty’s time as […]

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The Town Without Poverty

A guest post from Richard Pereira, a recent winner of the PEF Essay Contest… – Canadian Economics Association – The Town Without Poverty There were hundreds of speakers at this year’s CEA conference in Ottawa.  About a dozen of these were designated “Special Lectures/Conférences spéciales” and among them were Jack Mintz on “The GST After Twenty Years”, Don Drummond on […]

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Healthcare in Rural and Northern Ontario

The Ontario Nurses’ Association has released a research paper by PEF-member Salimah Valiani on health and healthcare in rural and northern Ontario. It analyzes socio-economic and environmental forces that contribute to lower health outcomes, labour-process data drawn from focus groups with front-line nurses, and how to alleviate the nursing shortage.

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The OECD Attack on Medicare

The OECD Economic Survey of Canada (unfortunately only a summary is available on line) was released this week, and its call to impose user fees or deductibles on services covered by Medicare (ie physician and hospital care) received quite a lot of media coverage.  I saw OECD economist Peter Jarrett doing at least two TV interviews here in Canada which […]

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Recession Reduces Health Care Utilization

Here’s a fascinating finding from an NBER study: “The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Usage,” by Annamaria Lusardi, Daniel Schneider, and Peter Tufano (NBER study #15843). They undertook a broad public survey across 5 countries (the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, and France) on the economic and social impacts of the recession.  The survey covered over 6000 individuals (over 2000 in […]

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Congress Passes Healthcare – I Told You So

This evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Obama’s healthcare bill. Two months ago, I was the odd man out on a Business News Network panel (watch video). The day after the Massachusetts by-election, I was talking about Democrats redoubling their efforts and being more aggressive in putting forward a progressive agenda. By contrast, one of my co-panellists said, “The […]

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Inequality Kills

Population health researchers, most famously and consistently Richard Wilkinson,  have long drawn attention to the fact that the link between social class and health status is a gradient, such that an individual’s position in the class hierarchy is directly and causally linked to that person’s health status. It is not just that low income people are more likely to be […]

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Ontario’s Health Premium

Yesterday, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at Queen’s Park. The committee is reviewing the Ontario Health Premium, as required by the legislation that implemented this levy. My assessment of the premium starts from the premise that the Government of Ontario needs more revenue not only for healthcare, but also for industrial development, education and […]

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No need for alarm over health care spending in BC

Jeffrey Simpson is right to lament that “there is no realistic, sensible debate” about health care in BC. Unfortunately, his May 13th Globe & Mail column “Even the redoubtable Premier Campbell struggles with health care” does not help. Simpson’s main point in the column is that health care spending in BC is rising out of control, defeating Campbell’s efforts to […]

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What the homeless need …

 … is homes. Check out this astonishing admission, as reported by CBC: St. Paul’s in downtown Vancouver, one out of every four beds is being used to treat the homeless, drug addicts and the mentally ill, said [Lorna Howes, the director of acute and community mental health for Vancouver with the Vancouver Coastal Health authority]. We are spending money on […]

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Inequality and health

There is an interesting opinion piece in The Tyee this morning, aptly named Dying for the Rich, which points out the links between inequality and life expectancy. The article’s author, Crawford Kilian, should be praised for bringing up an angle that was virtually ignored by media commentators in their coverage of the recent Census findings of growing inequality, even by […]

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Aging, Health Care and Federalism

Last December I testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, making the point that public health care need not fear an aging population. Today, I was invited back again to comment on their draft interim report and in particular the issue of how to address the fact that some provinces have a larger share of seniors than others, and […]

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TILMA and Medicare

An editorial in today’s Calgary Herald begins with the usual praise for TILMA, but ends by suggesting a new interprovincial deal on healthcare: Yet, for Ottawa to attempt to remedy matters by intruding itself into relations between the provinces would not only provoke reflexive opposition but, even if carried through by force majeure, be unlikely to work. Certainly, the Canada […]

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