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April 14, 1999 CARP President meets with Ontario Health Minister
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Good for you CARP President Lillian Morgenthau!

The April 1999 issue of CARP News (Canada's National Publication for the Fifty-Plus) had an article about a very disturbing half hour meeting that CARP President Lillian Morgenthau had with the Ontario Health Minister, Elizabeth Witmer, on January 20, 1999.  Mrs. Morgenthau met with the Minister to voice the concerns of CARP's approximately 230,000 Ontario members regarding the state of the Health Care System in Ontario.  The headline for this article reads "Recipe for disaster, Minister disappoints CARP President" so you can probably guess this was not a successful meeting of minds.

The Minister allotted a generous 30 minutes to discuss the health concerns in Ontario with CARP's President.  As Mrs. Morgenthau wanted to have an in-depth discussion about Ontario health care with particular emphasis on the over fifty generation, 30 minutes seems condescending and rude.  As I received a completely incomprehensible letter, a form letter, from Elizabeth Witmer in response to my letter outlining concerns about restructuring, I'm sure 30 minutes in person with the Minister must have been similar to her restructuring response letter - lots of numbers, projections and lots of rosy tales.

Some of the subjects Mrs. Morgenthau wanted to discuss were the new drugs on the formulary (of the 207 drugs claimed to be new only 11 are actually listed for the first time). Also on the agenda was the fact that the five drugs CARP wanted included on the formulary were not added to the list. According to the article CARP members are very concerned about "the lack of drugs covered on the formulary."  The article also stated that Ontario is seriously lagging behind the other provinces regarding their drug formulary.

Other subjects on Mrs. Morgenthau's discussion list were funding, hospital closures, OHIP coverage for tests and preventative medicine and out-of-country treatment for cancer to mention just a few.   Another topic which is of considerable concern to everyone is the promise of more money for new beds down the line, but within the next eight years the population will have far exceeded what those beds will cover. For example in Ontario we have been promised 20,000 long-term care beds, but at the moment we already have 17,000 people on those waiting lists.

Mrs. Morgenthau was rightfully very concerned with the meeting as the health care system as it stands now is not sufficient for today's needs let alone tomorrow's and next year, etc. when the population will be larger and baby boomers will join the over 65 group.

Mrs. Morgenthau still remains optimistic with the new federal funds announced in Ottawa's February Budget.

You can view the text of the brief Mrs. Morgenthau left with Minister Witmer at CARP's Web Site, believe me it is worth a look.  In this document Mrs. Morgenthau asks many questions regarding the status of restructuring of the Hospitals in Ontario (please keep in mind that Mr. Harris promised not to close any hospitals during his 1995 provincial election campaign), waiting lists for emergency services, long-term health care, waiting periods for MRI services, chronic under- funding of Chiropractic services, privatization and a Two- Tiered Health Care System and a wonderful idea of using the vacant hospitals to aid the homeless.  This is a very comprehensive document as well as a real eye-opener.

Mrs. Morgenthau and her associates at CARP deserve a great deal of credit for their hard work and the efforts they are making towards addressing the current and future concerns regarding the state of the Ontario health care system.

KMC


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