Tim Hudak owes voters a full explanation of what services his promised 100,000 public service job cuts will hit, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne said Friday at West Park rehab hospital.
“It is something he needs to be pushed on,” she told reporters after announcing the Liberals, if re-elected June 12, would grant powers to nurses to prescribe medications for common ailments.
With 50 per cent of provincial spending going to health care, Wynne was skeptical of Hudak’s claim that front-line health workers would remain untouched.
“That that could be done without affecting health care is questionable at best,” she added.
The Tory leader has proposed to axe 25,000 jobs annually for four years to help eliminate the deficit and get spending under control, reducing the public sector work force to 2009 levels.
Hudak insisted Friday that his cuts will weed out bureaucrats.
“You’ve got to trim the fat so you can invest in the front lines,” he said.
Wynne said giving nurses more powers, as recommended by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, would shorten wait times.
“You expand the number of people who are able to provide those services,” said Wynne, the daughter of a family doctor and mother of a student nurse.
Nurse practitioners, who have extra training and are already allowed to prescribe some drugs, would be given authority to order X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other diagnostic tests. Parameters for the drugs that can be prescribed and tests that can be ordered will be determined in detail before the proposal moves forward.
Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the RNAO, said the changes Wynne proposed would “transform” health care by leaving doctors free for patients with more serious problems while nurses handle minor ailments like ear, sinus, throat and yeast infections.
“You decongest the system,” said Grinspun, who has recommended nurses take a 300-hour course on prescribing medications before being given the extra powers.
The Ontario Medical Association said “patient safety must be paramount” in the nursing changes Wynne proposes.
Later Friday, Wynne did a 45-minute web chat on thestar.com, which was deluged with questions, including one on eliminating the separate school system — something the Green Party has proposed to save as much as $1.6 billion a year .
“I have no plan to move away from the education system as it is currently constituted,” Wynne replied. “What we are doing is requiring that school boards work . . . better together to provide better quality education while saving money.”
- With files from Robert Benzie