The Drummond Report makes me think of the old, school yard game of hopscotch. We the people, hop from one place to another, always on one foot. We strive to balance as we stoop to pick up the token that belongs to us.
We wonder, is this report a scenario of the possible, or a cloaking device, to frighten everybody sufficiently that anything less than the cuts forecast will seem like paradise. Drummond tells us correcting identified inefficiencies will leave us with a better product and a balanced budget. Health and education are the biggest spenders to they are targets.
Transfer payments to municipalities might be a place to eliminate administrative costs of two layers of local government but political will is needed for that to happen. Drummond identifies “gross inefficiencies” in health care so we wonder why the LHINs didn’t address them. Perhaps the LHINs, a second layer of health administration is one of the things we can do without. The cost of their staff and consultants is an item on the debt side. Volunteer hospital boards cost less.
Isn’t it passing strange that Drummond recommends closing one casino here, just as a new casino is envisaged on Toronto’s lakefront? We can accommodate all the Toronto people here, just give us GO train service.
Drummond finds we have under-invested in infrastructure – Duh. We also are accused of under-valuing our resources. We don’t pay full costs for water and energy. This is a puzzle because as we are encouraged to conserve we have so much electrical power we pay the States to take it. All the while we contemplate wind and solar farms.
Among the “low hanging fruit” Drummond would pluck to help reduce the cost of doing business may be the CEOs salaries and perks we read about, eHealth debacle, and Ornge air ambulance mess. Perhaps the cost of multiple layers of consultants could be examined.
In education perhaps we can do without as many textbooks due to computers and smart boards (if only they worked all the time) but we can’t do well without the support staff. Drummond would cut psychologists who identify kids with problems, educational assistants who work one on one with those kids. I would hate to miss helping one genius in all the proposed slashing. Small increases in class size may not hurt but special aid to special kids will.
Setting up clinics for specialized surgeries would help relieve hospital operating schedules and address wait times. Allowing nurses, pharmacists and other well trained professionals to do more makes good sense. Moving chronic patients out of hospitals is the thing everybody has urged as long as memory serves but where do they go? Home care, nursing home beds, would work at less cost than leaving chronic patients in hospital beds. Many waited vainly for the LHINs to solve this.
Keeping people healthy and out of care is definitely the way to go but changing lifestyles and behavior patterns takes time and often costs money and we know Drummond couldn’t discuss increased taxes or other possible revenue sources.
So here we are, balancing on one leg searching for the tiny bit of the picture that is ours.