Health care costs approaching breaking point: economists
Published Monday, February 17, 2014 10:22PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 18, 2014 8:15AM EST
There are tough choices to make, especially in health care, when it comes to the Parti Quebecois budget due out Thursday, economists say.
The budget could be little more than a political platform, and may never be voted on by MNAs, due to the likelihood of an election to be triggered within days of the budget.
But with an aging population and more expensive treatments, healthcare costs are soaring, and that will prove important in budget handouts.
Reducing the range of services covered could be one solution, but it wouldn't be popular, said Université Laval economics professor Bruce Shearer.
“Reducing services means people wait longer for surgery, people wait longer for tests results,” he said, adding that the PQ needs to reconsider cheap public daycare and low tuition fees.
Just don't bet on it anytime soon, he said.
“Over time they're going to have to answer those questions, they're going to have to make tough decisions,” he said.
The health care system is in urgent need of funding. According to the Quebec Health Care Facilities Association, the system needs an extra $1.2 billion in Thursday's budget for basic costs.
For example, doctors’ salaries are increasing 9.2 per cent in two years.
Quebec doctors need reasons to stay, said Shearer.
“They're more willing to go work in Ontario; they're more willing to go work in the United States,” he said.
Université Laval management professor and economist Andre Cote said most of the hike is unavoidable.
“Technology and medications are the items that cost the most,” he said.