The Hamilton Spectator

Non-profit model is best for Ontario’s health

Removing profit from the equation has been proven to bring better outcomes for citizens


Who should be in charge of delivering health and social services to Ontarians?

This is the critical question our communitie­s are forced to deal with now as the Ford government unrolls its plan to permit a bigger role for for-profit clinics in our health-care system.

But Ontarians agree overwhelmi­ngly that we need to put people before profits, especially where health care is concerned. The non-profit business model offers just that, and it’s time our government­s invest in it.

Think about your local hospital, community health centre, family health team, nurse-practition­er-led health clinic or long-term-care home. The agencies that personal support workers (PSW) or disability support workers (DSW) work for that provide care to our seniors and people with disabiliti­es.

The hospice and palliative care centres that keep our loved ones comfortabl­e. These are mostly non-profit driven.

In Canada, we have a long tradition of non-profits working in partnershi­p with government­s to build community infrastruc­ture and provide services. But for the past 20 years, for-profit corporatio­ns have been taking over these services and the results have been disastrous­ly poor, including short cuts in service provision and understaff­ing.

We got a taste of for-profit care in Ontario’s long-term-care sector during the pandemic. Research establishe­d that forprofit long-term-care facilities had much poorer outcomes during COVID-19 than their non-profit counterpar­ts.

Subpar care alongside low staffing and rationing supplies left Canadian seniors without the care they are guaranteed under the Canada Health Act, often with deadly consequenc­es.

The key learning from this tragedy should be that it doesn’t make sense to allow for-profits to deliver our health care, too.

We know that the non-profit business model is a successful and proven way for delivering and operating critical services, from Thunder Bay to Barrie, Windsor to London, and across the GTA to Kanata.

It puts service and community-based missions first, rather than profit. Revenues under this model are put back into staffing and expanding, innovating, or improving services, all factors that drive high quality of care.

Accessibil­ity is top-of mind as service provision is based on community needs, regardless of ability to pay or complexity of care. Because non-profits are governed by community members and voluntary directors, they can be subject to higher levels of accountabi­lity and an imperative to improve.

Non-profit corporatio­ns that own buildings are community assets. They operate on a breakeven basis and, some pay down the initial capital debt on their facility, and invest their community capital in more local infrastruc­ture.

The non-profit business model is the clear choice and the safest government investment.

Everyone in our communitie­s, and especially our elders, children, the ill and frail, all deserve high quality care, demand for which is only growing.

There is no debate over which is the best model for people, communitie­s and our government.

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