Seniors Issues and Concerns

OSSCO provides the following information and links on issues interest to Seniors and OSSCO members. This includes information from third parties. The content of this information is provided solely as a convenience and not as an endorsement. OSSCO is not responsible for the content of linked third party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third party Web sites. Further information regarding any of these issues may be obtained by following the supplied links.

Ontario Energy Board’s Proposal to Reduce Consumer Group

Counsel to the Vulnerable Energy Consumers Coalition (VECC)

Correspondence from counsel to the VECC to express VECC’s serious concerns regarding recent changes proposed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) which would result in less consumer group participation and scrutiny of residential hydro rate applications. Read the correspondence from counsel to the VECC.

 

Enabling Aging in Place

By The National Research Council

National Research Council shared workshop report on Aging in place. This report summarizes the discussions that took place at a national workshop on Aging in Place hosted by the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa on November 30, 2016. The objectives of the workshop were to identify the key challenges, or combinations of challenges, that provide the most promising opportunities to help seniors stay living in their homes for as long as possible. For NRC, this was a first step in being able to identify areas where it could then contribute to solutions, either directly or by connecting other players who can play a direct role.

Click here for the report on Enabling Aging in Place

 

CURC - Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

By CURC Toronto&York Area Council

In January, Sue Craig, a member of their Executive Board and Barry Stevens President of Toronto and York Region Area Council of CURC represented at the Standing Committee on Finance and Budget Affairs during its pre-budget consultations.
Their written submission and presentation focused on the importance of renewing and enhancing public services, reversing privatization, fairer taxation, and fairer cost-sharing among municipal, provincial and federal government.
Their proposals addressed the urgency of climate change; reversing the trend towards privatization in healthcare and actually extending the range of services covered by OHIP; increased support for affordable housing and transit; and restoring the generation and distribution of electricity to public hands.
They also called for an end to government downloading and a fairer allocation of costs for services among the three levels of governments, as well as greater fairness in the tax system based on ability to pay.

View written submission and their speaking notes

 

Census Results Call for Reviewing Old Age Security Eligibility
By Ghazy Mujahid

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Ontario Society of Senior Citizens' Organizations, it members or partners.

The Liberals reversed the Conservatives’ decision announced in 2012 to gradually boost the eligibility age for Old Age Security (OAS) payments from 65 to 67 years between 2023 and 2029. This was in keeping with an election pledge. When questioned about the reversal, announced in the Liberals’
first budget in March 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau had replied to the House of Commons Finance Committee that “The approach taken to changing the Old Age Security by the previous government, in my estimation, was arbitrary.”

Read the full article.

 

Fire That Killed Four Seniors at Toronto Public Housing Complex was Arson:
By

Almost a year after a Scarborough seniors’ apartment fire that killed four people, investigators have determined that the blaze was set on purpose.

Emergency Department Crises and Hospital Bed
Excerpt from Ontario Health Coalition

As you may know, there are media stories across Ontario about emergency department overloads. Hospitals are reporting that the flu and/or other viruses have created a surge. Some are saying that the increase in volumes has been happening over months/years. In December hospitals were reporting occupancy levels well over 100 per cent in many areas -- far above internationally-accepted benchmarks for safe patient care.

Lakeridge Health has reported that all four of its hospitals are in surge. They have opened an emergency "command centre" to deal with the crisis.

The Durham Health Coalition asked us to help organize a press conference on this. The local hospital CEO has attributed the crisis to an upswing in patient volumes and the flu. We are going to point out the systemic issues (too few beds and not enough capacity to deal with yearly holiday/flu upsurge, dangerous levels of understaffing and low bed capacity, failure of the provincial government to take the situation seriously and provide adequate resources, years of underfunding).

View the attached backgrounder explaining the same issues for hospitals across the province.

Patients Canada Year and Review: 2016 

Excerpt from Patients Canada

Here's a look at some of Patients Canada’s key accomplishments of 2016:

Task force appearance 

Patients Canada appeared before the task force looking into sexual harassment of providers and the role of the professional college. 

We presented our recommendations  for an improved system with greater transparency and better discipline. 

Patient Ombudsman Townhall

Patients Canada hosted the inaugural town hall of newly appointed Patient Ombudsman, Christine Elliott.

Patients and caregivers across Ontario had the opportunity to ask the Patient Ombudsman, Christine Elliot what she would be able to do for patients in her new role. 

View video here 

Health Ministers meeting survey

With your help, Patients Canada created and submitted a survey which addressed the most important health issues facing Canadians.

The survey results were presented to the Health Ministers across Canada at the annual Health Ministers meeting. 

Download survey results 

Meeting with Federal Health Minister, Jane Phillplott

During negations for a new Federal Health Accord, Patients Canada met with Federal Health Minister, Jane Philpott in order to present our report on the current patient priorities in Canada and what needed to be addressed. 

Patients' Choice Awards 

Patients Canada worked with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) on the selection committee of the Patients' Choice Awards in Sarnia-Lambton. 

Patients Canada received 35 nominations, and two local doctors were recognized by their patients for exceptional care. 

View Award winners and story 

Presentation to the Standing Committee reviewing bill 41, The Patients First Act

Patients Canada presented before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly reviewing bill 41, the Patients First Act in order to table concerns over the bill. 

View presentation on Bill 41 here

Patients Canada in the media  

Patients Canada representatives appeared on the CBC, CTV and in print media supporting the patient voice on key issues. 

View Patients Canada's interview on CTV's Power Play  

Read Patient Canada's CBC Go Public Story on Protecting Patients 

Read Patient Canada's National Post op-ed on homecare 

Read Patient Canada's article "The Future of Health Belongs to Patients"

Read Patient Canada's article on the importance of the flu shot 

Patients Canada's National Presence

Several Board members represented Patients Canada at patient and caregiver conferences around Canada, including:   

McMaster Health Forum, Hamilton, ON
      Patients Canada participated in discussion with leading thinkers on
      addressing health system sustainability.

Ontario Hospital Association, Health Achieve Conference, Toronto, ON
      Patients Canada participated in a discussion with healthcare
      professionals from across the nation to exchange information about the
      latest health issues, treatments and research outcomes.

Putting the Patient in Patient-centred care townhall, Toronto, ON
       Patients Canada participated alongside other patients and family caregivers
       in a discussion on what patient and family-centred care looks like to you,
       the patient.
 
Canada Health Infoway's Digital Health Week, Toronto, ON
       Patients Canada particpated in a conference on how digital health
       use is improving the patient experience. 

Longwoods, Breakfast With The Chiefs, Toronto, ON
        Patients Canada participated in a discussion on patient engagement
        and catalyzing improvement and innovation in the healthcare system.

Canadian Association of Gerontology Conference, Montreal, QC
        Patients Canada presented a discussion on Fostering Innovation
        in Research on Aging Patients Canada and the importance of Patient and
        Family-centred care. 

Questions? Contact us

Patients First Bill puts Bureaucracy first 
Excerpt from Patients Canada

The Government of Ontario recently passed Bill 41, also known as the Patients First Act on December 7th, 2016. 

Before the passing of Bill 41, a number of organizations and individuals presented their concerns before a legislative committee made up of the three Ontario political parties.
Please find below Patients Canada's presentation on the Patients First Act: 
View Patients Canada's presentation 
Also, please find below Ted Ball's presentation on the Patients First Act. 
His presentation is in agreement with Patients Canada's stance that the Patients First Act does not put patients first. 
View Ted Ball's presentation 

We Can't "Bear" To Lose Medicare!! - Giant Teddy Bear Brings Message of Compassion to London
Excerpt from Ontario Health Coalition

Canada’s public health care system is under threat by private profit-seeking clinics that want to be able to bill OHIP for tests and surgeries and bill patients hundreds or even thousands of dollars as well. This fact sheet gives a brief summary of what’s happening and what we can do about it.
Patients Versus Private Clinics in the Courts: At Stake, the Future of Our Public Health Care System
Mariel Schoof was charged more than $6,000 for sinus surgery at a private clinic. She wrote to her provincial government in British Columbia to try to get reimbursed for her surgery which should have been covered by B.C.’s OHIP plan. The government did not take action against the private clinic. So Mariel and four other patients went to court.
Finally forced by the patients to take action, the B.C. government tried to audit the province’s largest private clinic. The clinic refused to let the auditors in, despite the fact that they bill the public health system for millions of dollars each year. Eventually the B.C. court ordered the clinic to let the auditors in. When the government audited the clinic and its sister facility, they found hundreds of instances in which the clinic illegally billed patients.

Click here for the report on OHC Care Bear tour

List of Ontario long-term care homes that have been dealing with serious problems.
Excerpt from Concerned Friends

Concerned Friends: A VOICE FOR QUALITY IN LONG TERM CARE report for the first time our list of Ontario long-term care homes that have been dealing with serious problems. The health ministry announced this year that it will ramp up inspections of homes such as these. Also, why are residents in one long-term care home receiving less physiotherapy than before? Wasn’t the new funding formula of 2013 supposed to fix that?

Click here for more information

Ontario War On Addiction Needlessly Targets Seniors And Disabled
Excerpt from HuffPost by Marvin Ross Writer, publisher 

Ontario just announced that it is starting its war against addiction and deaths from opioid overdoses by targeting the elderly and disabled. Beginning in January 2017, Ontario will no longer cover the cost of higher doses of certain pain medications on its drug benefit formulary. The formulary covers the cost of drugs for senior citizens and the disabled. Those on higher doses will have to pay for these prescriptions themselves or have their doctors prescribe lower doses in sufficient quantity to make up for the single pill or long-acting patches they get now.

In an explanation to pharmacists, the government stated that part of the rationale is that they want to stop the diversion of legitimately prescribed medications which they call a "public health and safety issue in Canada." That assumes that a considerable amount of the drugs on the street are diverted from legitimate prescriptions, which is not the case.

For more details, please follow the link below.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marvin-ross/opioid-addiction-ontario_b_11294114.html

Energy Representation Report
Source: Public Interest Advocacy Centre 

Energy  Work – June-November 2015

Much of what was said in June of this year concerning the process of energy regulation at the Board remains valid in November. The major efforts in representation are dealt with in the description of case work during the past months. The introduction to the June report is thus included.

Energy
Overview (Recent)

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has been much in the news concerning the planned sale of 60% of Hydro ONE Distribution (HODX). The company franchise includes a fair amount of Ontario rural and semi-rural lines and facilities as well as some urban areas like Brampton. Since restructuring early in the last decade, it has largely been run in a fashion that has been neither efficient nor customer-friendly. The better solution from a regulatory standpoint would have probably been absorption by neighbouring LDCs. However, leaving aside questions of price and oversight by the AG and the Ombudsman, most independent observers believe that HODX can’t get much worse than it already is.

The HODX sale is not an issue that is before the Ontario Energy Board, but the legislation contains some enabling language associated with possible changes to the representation of consumers before the Board. The current chair, the former head of Ottawa Hydro, seems to prefer some kind of decision making system that relies more on customer views and staff reports in carrying out the work of the Board than adjudication with customer legal representation. She has succeeded in getting the government to appoint mainly industry representatives to the Board and the results over the past year are indicative of a bias in favour of the utilities in their rate applications, and less inclination to review their capital and operating spending. We have endeavored to oppose these trends and will see what happens over the course of the next year. The second part of a proceeding convened to consider the role of interveners has been announced by the Board without any details as of yet.

Click here for the report on energy representation of the VECC coalition to the Ontario Energy Board since June

Do we jump on or off the bandwagon? The Patients First Act, 2016
Source:Care Watch

Let’s think about the new Patients First Act before jumping on or off the bandwagon!

Introduction of Bill 210, the Patients First Act, 2016 offers a key opportunity for Ontarians to assess the health system changes that Minister Hoskins proposes.  These changes will have a significant, long-term impact on the range and quality of health services Ontarians receive through our publicly funded Medicare system. They will affect our experience as users, providers and taxpayers.
The draft legislation will amend approximately 20 pieces of legislation in order to implement the proposed reforms.  The Bill is complex and the way it amends these other Acts requires careful analysis of the intent as well as effects or probable outcomes.  

Care Watch has a longstanding commitment to advocate for better, more accessible home care for senior citizens.  It is through this lens that we will be watching and commenting on the proposals.

Click here for the report

More than 94,000 Ontarians Join in Grassroots Referendum to Stop Devastating Hospital Cuts
Massive Piles of Votes delivered to Opposition Party Leaders Outside Ontario Legislature
Source: Ontario Medical Coalition

Toronto – From across Ontario representatives from dozens of communities facing devastating cuts to their community hospitals carted thousands of ballots to the Ontario Legislature. The votes – 93,840 of them as of last night – were cast in a province-wide voluntary “referendum” on Saturday May 28 and in lead-in advance polls held in the last two weeks. Since last night the coalition has received hundreds more votes, putting the total over 94,000. Hundreds of votes continue to be sent in to the coalition every few hours. To put the size of the vote in perspective, a very large petition presented to the Legislature might have 20,000 signatures at most.

Click here for more information.

Dementia Friendly Communities
Excerpt from Alzheimer Society of Ontario

On behalf of the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, pleased to share with two reports focused on a growing energy towards bringing Dementia Friendly Communities to Ontario.The Alzheimer Society is moving through the Ontario Trillium Foundation's Collective Impact funding stream. 

Click here for the reports: Alzheimer Society for Dementia Friendly Communities Build Case Final, and Alzheimer Society Environmental Scan for Dementia Friendly Communities.

Release of Open Letter to Premier Wynne re. Raising Seniors ODB Deductibles & co-payments
Excerpt from Ontario Health Coalition

Released publically at a Queen’s Park press conference on March 23, 2016, attached is the open 
letter to Premier Wynne expressing our concerns regarding her government’s budget proposals to increase seniors’ Ontario Drug Benefit plan deductibles and co-payments for prescription medicines.

In the limited time available to us, 77 organizations are listed as having signed onto our message of concern. Further endorsements are welcome and continue to arrive at the Ontario Health Coalition offices:  ohc@sympatico.ca.

Read more Click here.

Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau
Written by Barbara Kilbourn, President Canadian Pensioners Concerned, Inc.

As you will all know by now, Canadian Pensioners Concerned, Inc. is closing its doors and dissolving its organization. As one of their last acts, they have sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for a strategic plan -- with funding -- for Canada's aging population.
Thank you for your attention to this -- and do not hesitate to add your organization's voice to them.

This letter as a supporter of the National Pensioners Federation and as an activist organization for public education on issues facing Canadians as they age. This organization closes at the end of this month due to a shrinking membership and funds. Read more click here. 

THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT IS CUTTING FUNDING FOR THE CARE YOUR DOCTOR PROVIDES
Source: Ontario Medical Association

The result?

A real and serious threat to your ability to access quality health care in the coming years. Just when you need it most.

Did you know?

Millions of Ontarians across the province are planning now for the care they’ll need and depend on as they age. The Ontario government is cutting the necessary funding for the care your doctor provides. It’s cutting funding for the care you need and depend on.

  • The Ontario government has unilaterally cut funding for the care your doctor provides by nearly 7%.
  • Ontario’s health-care system is under immense strain. At a time when demand for quality-patient focused care is on the rise, the government has imposed a hard cap on the amount it’s willing to fund. 
  • Ontario’s population is aging, putting increasing pressure on Ontario’s health-care system.
    The government is shutting doctors out from the decisions it’s making.

Take action

Working together, we can protect the quality patient-care you and your family deserve and depend on.
Its time to get active and support @
Doctors putting patients first by clicking

2016 Ontario Budget - Minimal Funding increases for Hospitals: Not far
Excerpt from Ontario Health Coalition

The Ontario Budget, released Feb 25,2016 at the Ontario Legislature, has announced a $60 million increase for hospital global budgets for the upcoming year. This minimal increase, along with targeted funding, will mean that some hospitals will see up to a 1% increase in funding. Small and rural hospitals will receive a modest funding increase and specialty hospitals, such as Childrens’ and Mental Health, will receive an additional $175 million. This will be the first increase in five years, and while we are pleased to see they have loosened the stranglehold on community hospitals by providing a minimum increase, it is nowhere near enough to stop the erosion of patient care and services across Ontario.

Since inflation is projected to run up to two per cent, in economists' terms, Budget 2016 heralds another year of "real-dollar" cuts, making this the ninth consecutive year of real-dollar budget cuts. This is the longest stretch of hospital cuts in our province’s history. Despite the government's claims of "transformation" and other euphemisms, very significant and damaging cuts are happening to every size community hospital in every region across Ontario.

As Ontario has slashed hospital beds and services, long-term care homes have taken a heavier load of more complex residents. The 2 per cent increase announced for long-term care is not enough to improve care levels.

Across the province, small and rural towns' hospitals are being decimated. ‎The scope of the cuts to smaller community and rural hospitals across Ontario is unprecedented in Canada. Many mid-sized towns like Lindsay and Cobourg are facing new rounds of cuts. In larger communities, cuts to thousands of front-line and vital support staff have left hospitals with patients stacked on stretchers in hallways with the least nursing care in the country. Yet in London, Windsor, Kitchener and Toronto damaging cuts to staff and care levels continue to be announced. Ontario's larger town hospitals are now the most dangerously overcrowded of any jurisdiction in the developed world. In all hospital settings, it is crucial that any new funding goes directly to the provision of front-line patient care. 

We are concerned by the Wynne government’s mulish response in stopping the cuts. This government has been hearing the outcries from patients, seniors, staff and concerned citizens across the province. Although they have responded with minimal increases, they have not gone far enough to undo the damage caused by nine consecutive years of cuts. Wynne’s unyielding determination to cut and privatize goes against everything the premier promised Ontarians when she was elected,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We will continue to organize community-by-community to insist that Ontario restore hospital funding to at least the average of the rest of the provinces in Canada.

Today’s announcement is one small step, but there is still a long way to go to restore the services that have been cut and privatized over the last eight years. Ontario has plummeted to the bottom of Canada in hospital funding. As a result of the Wynne government’s cuts, we have the fewest hospital beds and least staff per patient in the country,” said Sara Labelle, Board Member of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We need to continue to hold their feet to the fire, and demand that services are restored.

The cuts to hospital services and clinics are resulting in more and more health care privatization. Private clinics are charging patients two-tier user fees for care at the same time that they are billing OHIP often in contravention of the Canada Health Act. For patients, many of them seniors, the privatization of these clinics is resulting in hardship and stress. In addition, patients continue to be pushed out of hospital quicker and sicker. They are learning the hard way that the community supports they have been promised, including home care services and long-term care, are full, strictly rationed, privatized and subject to ever escalating user fees.

For more information: Contact Kim Johnston, Campaign Director at 416-441-2502 or visit www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca

Ontario Health Coalition Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs  
Priority Recommendation: Stop Devastating Hospital Cuts & Restore Funding to Average of Other Provinces as submitted by Ontario Health Coalition
Ontario Health Coalition Executive Director, Natalie Mehra presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at the Ontario Legislature on Monday, February 1st, 2016.

Hospital global funding increases have been set below the rate of inflation since at least 2008. Since 2012/13 global hospital budget funding levels have been frozen. In sum, this means that global hospital budgets have been cut in real dollar terms (inflation-adjusted dollars) for 8 years in a row. This is the longest period of hospital cuts in Ontario’s history and there is no end in sight. The evidence shows that the hospital funding formula and austerity measures that have cut global hospital budgets in real dollar terms for almost a decade, have resulted in a dramatic reduction in needed services. By key measures, Ontario now ranks at the bottom of comparable jurisdictions in key measures of hospital care levels.

As a result, hospitals large and small in every geographic region of Ontario are cutting needed services. Hospitals are now at dangerous levels of overcrowding; staffing levels have dropped precipitously; and patients are suffering as they are forced to wait longer and drive further to access care and are discharged before they are stable.
A sampling of recent cuts:

  • North Bay – 30 – 40 beds closing and 140 staff positions to be cut.
  • Brockville – 17 Registered Nurses cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • London – up to 500 surgeries including hip, knee, gall bladder and others cancelled until next fiscal year due to inadequate funding of surgery budgets.
  • Woodstock – hip, knee and other surgeries cancelled til next fiscal year.
  • Trenton – virtually all surgeries cut and closed down along with half the remaining acute care beds.
  • Minden – the hospital CEO is speculating openly about closing the Minden hospital.
  • Niagara – five entire hospitals to be closed and replaced with one.
  • Windsor - 160 nurses and staff positions to be cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • Kitchener - Waterloo – 68 staff positions to be cut affecting departments across the hospital.
  • Midland – at risk: birthing, cafeteria, OR closure 2 days per week, ICU beds to be cut, along with beds and other services.

The Ontario Health Coalition is deeply concerned about the cuts to our province’s public hospitals and has focused our pre-budget submission on one key recommendation:

Recommendation: The hospital cuts must be stopped immediately. Hospital funding must be restored to the average of the other provinces in Canada and funding must go to restoring and improving service levels to meet population need.

Click here for more information

Click here to visit  Ontario Health Coalition website

In the News: Health Care Wait Times, What is the Real Story? 
Natalie Mehra (Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition)

Recently, a high-profile report tracking health care wait times was released from the Wait Times Alliance. Eliminating Code Gridlock in Canada's Health Care System, is a credible summary and a useful addition to public policy decisions about health care planning. It is written by an alliance of physician specialists' organizations to track progress in wait times and public reporting.
Leeching off of the publicity for the day, the Fraser Institute - a pro-privatization think-tank also released their annual wait times report. Releasing this report at the same time as the release of the Wait Times Alliance Report may garner extra media, but it is bound to cause confusion. 

The methodology of the Fraser Institute is based on the subjective viewpoints of the small proportion of physician specialists who answer their surveys. If you read the methodology section of their report, you will find that their response rate is only 21%. That is, they received answers from just one in five of the physicians they surveyed.The Fraser Institute uses a number of different methods to take these survey results and turn them into the median (middle) wait times that they report nationally and for each province. Different medians reported are based on different methods of calculation, all stemming from the original surveys gathering the perceptions of a small sample of physicians. Some of these methods require significant contortions indeed. In fact, there are a number of issues that one could raise regarding their methods. In the end, the Fraser Institute is a strident promoter of for-profit privatization of health care. Their report should be treated accordingly.  

The Wait Times Alliance report is a thought-provoking addition to the body of research on access to care and timeliness of care. The report shows that significant funding investments in the public hospital system including better wait list management and pooled referrals, additional operating room nurses and health professionals have improved wait times in Saskatchewan. The report also shows that Ontario has one of the most robust reporting systems in the country, not only reporting on wait times for an array of surgeries and diagnostics, but also long-term care and home care wait times, and data regarding Alternate Level of Care. Our government is leading the way in terms of improving transparency in reporting of wait times. Since last year, the provinces that have been doing well in specific types of wait times - MRIs, hip and knee surgery, cardiac surgery and cancer surgery -- are continuing to do so. These provinces include Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

On the negative side, most provinces do not report their wait times on most procedures, so the report is based on limited information and only from those provinces that do report. Long waits in hospital emergency departments were cited in Ontario. Waits are up to 26 hours for Ontario patients with complex conditions that require additional diagnostic tests or admission into a hospital bed. Though the report does not say this, many of these waits are due to a severe shortage of hospital beds. (Ontario has cut more beds than anywhere in Canada.) The report did not look at wait times for home care and long-term care this time around. Nor did they draw many serious cross-country comparisons, other than the one looking primarily at the five target procedures set out in the 2004 Health Accord (MRI/CT, and surgeries for hips/knee, cardiac, cancer, cataracts).

The Wait Times Alliance advocates for improved reporting on wait times for seniors' care and for those health services that are provided directly by the federal government including First Nations' health care services, care for veterans, the armed forces, Corrections Canada, and refugees. These are good recommendations that we should support.

There is only really one item with which we would take issue in the report: there is considerable confusion about Alternate Level of Care (ALC) patients.The report notes that there is no common definition of ALC across the country. It uses Ontario ALC figures to suggest that 13.7 per cent of hospital beds are taken by ALC patients. But what it does not note is that many of those patients are in one type of hospital bed waiting for another type of hospital bed (not waiting for discharge to long-term care or home care). In fact, almost none are waiting for discharge for home care, as, unfortunately, most home care - ready patients are discharged and wait for home care at home.The misuse of ALC figures is rampant among health care's "chattering classes". Few have actually looked at the hospitals' ALC surveys to see what the data really shows. Unfortunately, this misinformation is driving dangerous levels of hospital cuts. We will seek to meet with the Wait Times Alliance to discuss this. There is also a gratuitous positive mention of the LEAN methods in the report, without any real analysis. We receive endless complaints about this Toyota management system that is now being used in public hospitals.

The new federal government of Justin Trudeau promised to renegotiate a Health Accord with the provinces. The Wait Times Alliance is calling on the federal government to show leadership in addressing the issues raised in its report card and in continuing to push for improvements in wait times.

Today and in coming days, we will see these reports used, particularly by proponents of privatization to try to further dismantle public hospitals and facilitate the takeover of health care by for-profit companies. The most aggressive privateer of all at the moment, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wahl, will likely try to contort the findings to push for more health care privatization. What the data actually show is that provinces that have a lot of privatization (see Quebec and B.C., for example) either do not report at all or do not measure up well at all in cross-country comparisons of wait times. Instead the evidence is that patients in those provinces are being charged fees ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars for medically-needed care. On top of these user fees, private clinics are billing the public system -- for the same procedures. In fact the evidence shows that the improvements that we have seen in reducing wait times in Ontario, Saskatchewan and elsewhere have occurred when governments have improved public funding for public hospitals, increased trained nurses and health professionals, and better organized and managed wait lists. In this way, access to care is improved for all, and equity for all Canadians regardless of their personal wealth is preserved as the cornerstone value upon which our public health system rests.

Seniors Are Visiting Food Banks More Than Ever
Excerpt from Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB)

This week the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) released the 2015 Hunger Report - an annual snapshot of what food bank use looks like in this province.

In March of this year, 358,963 people visited a food bank. This is roughly equivalent to the population of London, Ontario.

While food bank use has remained stable over the past few years, the OAFB is still seeing numbers that far exceed pre-recession levels. Almost 45,000 more adults and children access food banks each month in 2015 compared to when the recession hit in 2008.

This year, the OAFB has seen some troubling trends when it comes to food bank use, particularly when it comes to one of our most vulnerable populations - senior citizens.

Over the past year, we are seeing a 35 per cent increase in the number of seniors visiting food banks. This growth is particularly concerning when looking at the aging population of Canada, where seniors are predicted to represent 23 per cent of the population by 2030.

In Ontario, over 12 per cent of seniors fall below the Low-Income Measure (LIM), with this number more than doubling to 27 per cent when looking at seniors who identify as single.

Doug Smith from the OAFB is well aware of the financial challenges Ontario's seniors are facing. His mother, Shirley Smith is unable to make ends meet on her own, receiving a pension of only $106 each month for her 25 years of service as an Eaton's inventory clerk. Without the extra help from her children, Shirley says she would be out on the street.

The maximum government allowances for single seniors in this province is a meagre $1342.78 a month. Taking into account the rising cost of food, and utilities, and the incredibly expensive costs of long-term care and retirement facilities - it is no wonder that more and more seniors are living in poverty.

Luckily, Shirley has the support of her family to ensure she receives the care she needs. But what about the seniors who don't have a support system to depend on?

While food banks will always be around to lend a helping hand to a senior in need, it is time to develop long-term solutions to hunger and poverty in Ontario.

This holiday season, support your local food bank. They need your help now more than ever. But also, contact your local MP, MPP, and city councillor. Demand more. We cannot be a province that leaves our seniors in the cold.

For every $1 received, the OAFB is able to provide three meals to someone in need. Visit www.oafb.ca/donate today to support Ontario's food banks!

Shedding Light on the Potential Privatization of Hydro One: Get Informed & Be Heard
By: OSSCO Staff (As in our November 2015 E-Newsletter) 

The increasing price of energy is becoming a concern for individuals at all ends of the income and life spectrums.  With businesses like Chrysler voicing their concerns about what effect electricity prices would have on manufacturing in Canada, it’s no stretch of the imagination to postulate the effect on regular folk; most notably, low-income families and seniors across the province.  The privatization of Hydro One, or at least the privatizing of a percentage of the crown utility, has many thinking that the worst may yet to have arrived.

A campaign called “Hydro One Not For Sale” has made its presence known to us. They provided some harrowing statistics that, should their predictions come to fruition, could change the economic realities for everyone here in Ontario. Some quick facts outlined in their recent campaign and information show that, in this case, the fear of privatization may be founded.  They identified that while a province like Manitoba, with a fully public utility, experiences some of the lowest rates in the country, Nova Scotia, which has a fully privatized hydro model in place, experiences the highest.

OSSCO is a proponent for providing seniors with information to increase their knowledge and empower themselves. Seniors who participated in recent forums identified the important role for OSSCO in helping protect our more vulnerable members – seniors – in society.  We continue to be active in public policy awareness, encouraging governments to use a “seniors’ lens” for any legislation or decision in order to prevent adverse effects to seniors.

Hydro One Not For Sale identifies what could happen when a “seniors’ lens” is not applied. We encourage our readers to educate themselves on this subject, as well as spread the message to others, after reading this edition of Outreach.

Take time to scour the media, websites and other resources for news updates and listen to what knowledge leaders are saying. If you have a Facebook account, you can have a look at the information provided here

Talk to someone. If you have a concern or questions as to your interpretation on this subject, as we learned in our recent Civic Dialogue program, you can contact your local MPP.  They are knowledgeable about proposed changes. We also learned that for every one senior who calls, there are 700 seniors who share the same questions or concerns.

Knowledge mobilization is all about empowerment. To quote Daryl Rock (Chairman, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation) on knowledge mobilization it’s about, “getting the right information to the right people in the right format at the right time so as to influence decision making.” The more we know and are engaged, the more effective seniors become at building better communities for themselves and generations to follow.

Links to consider are Toronto StarFinancial PostMetroland MediaCITY News and CBC

One Senior's Opinion Finds Its Way Into Toronto Star's "Letters To The Editor" 
Published on August 2, 2015

"This “newly enhanced universal child care benefit” obviously benefits individuals who really do not need any more benefits. This is in keeping with the trend that the older generation (which has spent years depriving itself in order that the offspring have everything they could possibly need and/or want) owes the younger generation a living.

Why stuff money down the throats of people who are ushered, via auto-suggestion, into believing that donating to the coffers of the already rich running for public office, would be the noblest possible gesture?

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