Private clinics’ bigger role in Ontario won’t affect Nunavut: Main

Health minister says GN will continue provide services it currently offers through agreement with southern counterpart

Ontario’s plan to fund private clinics to provide public health-care services should not impact the insured care in Ontario the Government of Nunavut offers to Nunavummiut, says Nunavut Health Minister John Main, pictured here. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Lochead

Ontario’s plan to fund private clinics to provide public health-care services should not affect the specialized care Nunavummiut receive in that province, says Nunavut Health Minister John Main.

The Ontario government announced Jan. 16 it will expand and fund some services offered in private medical clinics in an effort to reduce the backlog of hospital surgeries in the province.

The phased-in plan will see private clinics offer thousands more cataract surgeries, MRI and CT scans, as well as hip and knee replacements. The government’s intention is to have all the services offered at private clinics by 2024, and to have its hospital surgery wait-times back to pre-COVID-19-pandemic levels a year from now.

Services that will be expanded through the private clinics will be covered through Ontario residents’ provincial health insurance plan, said Hannah Jensen, a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones.

Ontario’s plan comes as Canada’s premiers, including Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok, are scheduled to meet Feb. 7 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to start talks aimed at increasing federal health-care funding to the province.

Some health-care experts such as Dr. Nancy Whitmore, registrar and chief executive officer of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, have criticized the Ontario government’s plan to use more private clinics.

Whitmore said her organization believes the move will exacerbate staffing shortages in public health care as professionals leave for jobs at private clinics.

In an interview with Nunatsiaq News, Main said regardless of any privatization measures Ontario takes, the Government of Nunavut will continue to cover the insured services it currently provides to Nunavummiut receiving medical treatment in that province.

“It shouldn’t matter whether the facility performing the procedures is public or private,” he said.

He said the job market for health-care professionals is competitive across Canada and that Nunavut is looking at ways to make the territory more appealing for those professionals.

Ontario’s government did not consult Main about the province’s new health services plan, he said.

But with Nunavut being reliant on many services from Ontario, Main said his government would communicate with Ontario if needed.

“If there was anything we felt we needed to communicate to them, we wouldn’t hesitate to voice those concerns,” he said.

While Main said his government appreciates the health services offered by its southern partners, the territory is trying to establish more essential health-care services in Nunavut.

“We’re always looking for ways to do more here,” he said.

A spokesperson for Tungasuvvingat Inuit, a not-for-profit organization that provides urban support services for Inuit in Ontario, declined to comment on the impact of Ontario’s health-care changes on Inuit living in the province.

Larga Baffin, a boarding home for people travelling to Ottawa from the Qikiqtani region for medical procedures, was also contacted but no spokesperson was available to comment.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by It is already private on

    when you put people on a plane owned by a private company to go stay in a hotel or boarding home owned by a private company only to go to a hospital you have contracted with to provide services at a specified rates they pay physicians who are contracted privately to deliver you’re already privatized enough. What Main is really saying is that no matter what happens things won’t get any better in Nunavummuit so expect the same mediocrity from the past 20 years.


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