Columnists

Jim Stanford
Ontario Nurses Association study on macroeconomic side effects of austerity

| December 24, 2012
Ontario Nurses Association study on macroeconomic side effects of austerity

Change the conversation, support rabble.ca today.

The Ontario Nurses Association has been publishing some awesome economic analysis over the last couple of years, highlighting the talents of their new economist and PEF member Salimah Valiani. Apart from a strong analytical and quantitative approach, ONA's recent research has been very refreshing in the emphasis it has placed on gender analysis and the unique features of caring labour.

Their recent paper on the contractionary macroeconomic side effects of provincial spending restraint is well worth reading. Austerity-boosters always ignore the self-defeating side effects of spending cuts in a context of generalized stagnation; as we've seen in Europe, austerity reinforces the same underlying macroeconomic problems that created the deficit in the first place. The full ONA paper is here:

http://www.ona.org/documents/File/politicalaction/ONA_EasyToTakeForGranted_20121011.pdf

And here is a short summary of the paper from ONA:

TORONTO – As the province continues down the road of decreased public spending in health care and other public services through initiatives such as imposed wage freezes, forced pension erosion as well as sweeping labour law reform, the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is releasing a new research paper showing the wealth-creating role of public spending on health, education and social services in overall economic production.

Easy to Take for Granted: The role of the public sector and carework in wealth creation shows that the value of economic output generated through every dollar spent on public health care, education and social services is considerably higher than each private investment dollar.

"Using quantitative as well as qualitative data, our economist Salimah Valiani's research demonstrates that what the current focus on public-sector cuts actually means is reduced economic growth in the years to come," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Dr. Valiani demonstrates that Ontario needs to shift from a framework of 'economic efficiency' to one of 'social efficiency' for health care reform. Market efficiency results in short-term financial savings but also results in long-term costs for careworkers, the most vulnerable and negatively impacts economic growth as a whole."

Haslam-Stroud says that, "remembering cuts to health care in the 1990s, our research and experience tell us that cuts to public health care are a false economy. We have to organize public health care and other public services so they are the most beneficial to recipients and providers. Contracting outside 'experts' who know nothing about front-line service delivery settings will inevitably leave Ontarians with poorer health and an increasing reliance on patients' families and friends, to the detriment of everyone."

The research paper concludes with recommendations for health care and fiscal reform. "In the current environment of increasing inequality and falling economic growth around the world, Ontario needs a combination of economic and human development in order to regenerate the economy and the population," says Haslam-Stroud.