GOLDSTEIN: Why Ontario was a sitting duck for COVID-19

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Ontarians have repeatedly missed some of the world’s most severe and longest pandemic lockdowns due to unvaccinated people.

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As of Saturday, 82.16% of the eligible population in Ontario had been fully immunized, slightly above the national average of 81.86%, and Canadians are among the most immunized people in the world.

Closures continue due to near non-existent surge capacity in Ontario hospitals, a problem that has been known for decades and that governments of all political stripes have ignored.

It has made Ontario’s health care system a sitting duck for COVID-19, necessitating repeated lockdowns, cancellations of so-called “elective surgeries” and learning in school as well.

The phrase “elective surgeries” is a very misleading term because it implies that the surgery is elective or elective.

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In fact, “elective” surgeries – including brain, heart and cancer operations – often mean the difference between life and death, or end years of excruciating pain.

Elective surgery simply means that it is scheduled at a specific time, as opposed to emergency surgery which is performed immediately.

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Canada’s health care system generally performs poorly in international comparisons with similar countries.

According to the Fraser Institute, for example, Canada ranks 25th out of 26 developed countries with universal or near-universal health care systems comparable to ours, in terms of the number of acute care hospital beds – 2.1 per 1000 inhabitants.

But Ontario, which spends 42 cents of every dollar on health care — by far the province’s biggest spender — fares even worse than other provinces.

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In April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office reported that “the rate of hospital beds per 1,000 population in Ontario is among the lowest in the Organization for Cooperation and economic development and occupancy rate (hospital) in Ontario is the highest.”

The Ontario Hospital Association reported in 2019 that “Ontario has fewer acute care hospital beds per 1,000 population than any other province and fewer beds than any country in the world (at equality with Mexico) monitored by the OECD”.

The OHA said that between 2015 and 2018, Ontario had 1.4 acute care beds per 1,000 patients, 30% lower than the Canadian average of 2 per 1,000, with Ontario and Canada falling far short. behind the six other G-7 member countries – Japan (7.8 per 1,000), Germany (6), France (3.1), Italy (2.6), the United States ( 2.4) and the United Kingdom (2.1).

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But it’s not just the lack of beds that’s the problem.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Ontario had the highest administrative costs for health care in the country in 2019-20, just before the pandemic hit – 5.7% of total spending, a third more than the pan-Canadian provincial average of 4.3%.

Ontario also had the third-lowest number of family physicians per 100,000 population in 2020 (115), ahead of only Prince Edward Island (109) and Manitoba (108).

So when the pandemic hit, Ontario had fewer acute care beds, fewer family doctors, and more health care bureaucracy compared to not just international standards, but other provinces.

What could go wrong?

Given this, it’s not hard to see why a few hundred COVID patients in intensive care units, or a few thousand COVID hospitalizations in a province of nearly 15 million people, repeatedly result in canceling elective surgeries, resulting in the deaths of thousands, as well as causing lockdowns that devastate small businesses and rob students of learning in school.

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