Catherine Fife MPP, Waterloo

Government of Ontario

What “Alternative Financing Structures” Does the Premier Have in Mind for eHealth?

Published on November 22, 2016

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Acting Premier. This morning, the Premier’s privatization expert recommended that the government find “alternative financing structures” to fund our digital health system. The health minister keeps saying that his priority is to “leverage” health assets and maximize their value, but we’ve heard all of this before. The Premier promised not to sell Hydro One, and she did; she turned around and started selling off our public hydro to private investors. It’s no wonder Ontarians cannot trust this government.

Will the Acting Premier tell Ontarians what alternative financing structures the government has in mind for our private health records, and will she do it before the Premier makes another huge mistake that, once again, hurts the people of this province?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I was pleased to join Mr. Clark for his press conference to deliver recommendations based on the work that I asked him to do, based on terms of reference that made it explicit that there would be no sale of eHealth or digital health assets in this province, that there would be no sale of individuals’ personal health information. Those were his terms of reference. He has reiterated that in his report as well. He makes no recommendation pointing toward privatization or sale of any elements of eHealth, and that was the statement that I made at the press conference as well.

If the NDP insist on creating this mythological approach of theirs, that’s their business to do. I’ve made it categorically clear here in the Legislature, as the Premier has, countless times. I’m probably up to 20 times where I’ve insisted that that’s not on the table, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary? The member from Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Again to the Acting Premier: The people of Ontario are clear. Care should drive health care decisions, not profit. People, not private profits, should always come first in our health care system, but this government is putting private profit first. A year ago, the Premier’s privatization czar said Ontario hospitals should be linked more closely to the private sector, and now the same adviser is calling for alternative financing structures to fund digital health care.

Don’t get me wrong, Speaker. We all know that digital health care will bring us benefits. Ontarians own Health Infoway right now, but it looks like the private sector will own the ramp to those infoways. People don’t want the privatization of Hydro One to be repeated in our health care system. People want to keep the digital health assets in public hands where our health care system belongs.

When will this government stand up for patients and reject any attempt to increase profits in our health care system?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I couldn’t have been clearer or more categorical in this morning’s press conference when I indicated that there would be no sale of digital health assets, that there would be no sale of private health information. But maybe the third party has got caught up with what has been happening south of the border with the Trump election. They’ve created their own post-truth approach here in Ontario where they’re making it up as they go along. There is no intention. They can continue to promulgate this myth, but the reality is—and I’ve stated it so many times, and this is consistent with the recommendation and the assertion of Mr. Clark this morning and in his report—there will be no sale.