The Troubling Politics of Healthcare in Ontario

October 10, 2015 by | 4 comments

Crossed fingers: Lucky or lying?

Crossed fingers: Lucky or lying?

In 1985 and 1986, the Peterson Liberal government, with NDP support, introduced the Health Care Accessibility Act that aimed to ban physician’s ability to extra-bill. This lead to a Doctor’s strike and lasting damage to government-physician relations.

Between 1990 and 1995, the Rae NDP government imposed the infamous “Rae Days” and introduced a hard cap on medical school enrolment that planted the seeds of the subsequent doctor’s shortage.

Between 1996 and 2000, under the Harris PC government, the Health Services Restructuring Commission (HSRC) oversaw deep funding cuts to the healthcare system that resulted in hospital closures, cutting of nursing positions, and clawbacks on physician fees. This was compounded by the growing physician shortage. Dalton McGuinty was the opposition leader at that time and railed against the cuts.

Between 2012 to present day, first under McGuinty and continuing under Wynne, the Liberal government has undertaken a series of unilateral cuts to healthcare funding and physicians services. This has caused significant concerns around patient care and access. Patrick Brown, as opposition leader, has been railing against the cuts.

In 2018 and beyond…?

The cycle of healthcare cuts and politicking highlight why funding of healthcare shouldn’t be a political issue but a population needs issue. The current unilateral actions further damage the working relationship between the government and the healthcare profession and perpetuate an ‘us versus them’ mentality, when it really should be an ‘all of us versus the challenging realities of an aging population with growing healthcare needs’ situation. Each stakeholder in our system should be eagerly stepping up to the table to work together on proactive solutions. Instead, it would seem some of us don’t know where the table is, half of the key players aren’t even invited, and the government isn’t interested.


Photo Credit: flickr user ~dgies


About the Author

Taylor Lougheed is a physician in Family and Emergency Medicine, and passionate about sustainable public healthcare, quality improvement and patient safety, medical education, and global health.


  1. Mag

    Short-term thinking won’t get us anywhere in a long-term industry!

  2. Andrew Lee

    Looks like no matter who we vote for in three years we will be faced with potential cuts.

    • Taylor Lougheed

      All the more reason to be talking about how we can potentially separate healthcare funding from political cycles (as much as is possible). I think the system would benefit immensely from transparent and predictable funding so we can focus our collective energies on step-wise improvements instead of fighting against cuts q4-6 years or more.

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