By Dr. CHRISTOPHER J. MORGAN
Two weeks ago 52 per cent of eligible Ontario voters, an increase compared to the 2011 provincial election, produced 58 seats in the legislature for the Ontario Liberal Party, 28 for the Progressive Conservatives and 21 for the New Democrats – giving the Liberals a majority.
Congratulations to all the MPP candidates who ran for election and to those who are heading to Queen’s Park we look forward to you faithfully representing those who voted for and supported your campaign.
Many, I suspect, including Liberal MPP candidates and their supporters, were surprised at the majority outcome, especially since most of the media polls were stating it was too close to call right up to and including Election Day.
Astute members of the Liberal Party are aware that their majority outcome is in part due to PC leader Tim Hudak’s promise to cut 100,000 public service jobs. I have evidence of this from conversations I had prior to and after the elections with a few long-time Liberal supporters, all of whom had strong and passionate arguments as to why they were hesitant to vote Liberal on June 12.
One sentiment was “Ontarians need to send a message to our government that a breach of the public trust and poor accountability must be punished”. Others stated moral and spiritual concerns. Yet, oftentimes these supporters had close family members whose jobs, and by extension, their families’ well-being, was slated to be on the chopping block should Tim Hudak and the PCs prevail. For many, indeed thousands, this was the critical point that trumped other concerns.
Again, astute Liberals would realize that few Ontarians, including those who voted Liberal, have forgiven and even fewer are willing to forget the events of ORNGE air ambulance, eHealth and the gas plant cancellations. Yet, Premier Kathleen Wynne now has a golden opportunity to construct her legacy and distinguish her leadership.
On the road to regaining the public trust, Wynne and her government must govern with integrity, practice transparency and accountability and follow-through on their commitments. Wynne should have no difficulty passing her budget; the tough part will be fulfilling its promises. On the issue of health care, the single largest budget expenditure accounting for typically more than 40 per cent of the provincial budget, there are some real challenges.
I have commented recently on the challenge of providing Excellence in Health Care for All Ontarians with a fast growing, culturally and racially diverse population and the need for a provincial Health Equity Strategy along with a Black Health Strategy to ensure our health care system can effectively reduce health disparities and treat all people equitably, not equally.
One quick win for this Liberal government would be to complete what they already started and implement the Primary Care Low Back Pain Pilot Project (PCLBPP). In the fall of 2013 as part of the provincial Low Back Pain Strategy, the government accepted proposals from primary care providers such as family health teams, community health centres, nurse-practitioner led clinics, and Aboriginal health access centres to develop low back pain management programs through an inter-professional team that includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists and chiropractors.
The goal of PCLBPP is to provide Ontarians with better access to effective, conservative care of low back pain which is patient-centered and cost effective. Low back pain is consistently ranked as one of the most prevalent conditions in the world. Nearly 85 per cent of Ontarians will experience low back pain at least once during their working years and 20 per cent suffer from chronic low back pain.
There is significant evidence that shows the majority of low back pain complaints can be effectively managed conservatively with a combination of patient education, specific therapeutic exercise prescription, workplace and home ergonomic modifications along with manual therapy. Incorporating health professionals with expertise in this area, such as chiropractors, is a significant benefit to people coping with low back pain and disability.
This pilot project will have the effect of providing increased access to effective and conservative low back pain assessment, diagnosis and management, reduce the need and utilization of expensive advanced imaging such as MRI and CTs, and surgical consultations and procedures, improving health outcomes and wisely using our health care dollars.
Dr. Christopher J. Morgan is the director of Morgan Chiropractic & Wellness, an interdisciplinary health centre in Toronto, and the President of the Black Health Alliance, a network of community organizations, health professionals and community members working in partnership to advance the health and well-being of the Black community.