June 3, 2014 7:03 am

Patient group fears PC hospital mergers

Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital is seen in this December 22, 2013 file photo.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press

TORONTO – A patient’s advocacy group is worried the health policies of the three main political parties aren’t getting much attention in the Ontario election campaign, and warns the Conservatives would merge many hospitals.

The Ontario Health Coalition calls the health platforms of all three parties “perfunctory and shallow,” but is especially concerned with the Tory plan to merge 146 hospital corporations, covering nearly 230 local hospitals, into 30 to 40 “hubs.”

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Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra says PC Leader Tim Hudak’s plans are similar to the large-scale hospital restructuring that occurred under former Conservative premier Mike Harris, but would go much further.

She says the entire health-care system would be in upheaval for years to come if the Tories win the June 12 election and put their plan into action.

The coalition says the main beneficiaries of merged hospitals are the CEOs, who see huge increases in pay after mergers are completed, and notes studies show the mergers often don’t result in desired savings.

Mehra says both the Conservatives and Liberals would contract out more hospital services, while the NDP platform is silent on the issue.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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