A stethoscope and blood pressure monitor.
A stethoscope and blood pressure monitor. Credit: Marcelo Leal / Unsplash Credit: Marcelo Leal / Unsplash

“Growing up I saw the world as very black or white. There were things that were right and there were things that were wrong,” Frank Domenic shared with rabble.ca. “I know now the world obviously isn’t that way, but that was very core to my growing up and so I have this very strong sense of justice.”

As a kid, the business and economics teacher watched a lot of cartoons with characters that were very focused on the concept of justice. That message left a lasting impression.

That sense of right or wrong continues to this day, not in terms of political party, but about certain ideas that are always right and always wrong.

Domenic maintains, from an economic perspective, there’s absolutely no argument against properly funding universal health care. The problem is this conversation has not been directed to the younger generation, but Domenic has found a way to reach them by going to where they are – on Tik Tok where he currently has 74,000 followers.

He points out that even if you’re a business person, or are fiscally conservative, you should be arguing in favour of higher health care spending.

That’s because in all economic metrics, no matter the type of study you look at, there are better outcomes for the economy when you invest in publicly funded health care for all.

Better health care for workers means they are healthier, take fewer days off, and work later into their life. Those healthy workers are also more productive which means the gross domestic product (GDP) is higher.

“So, just from the fiscal lens, even if you don’t care about the social justice issue, there is a direct argument to be made for fiscal conservatives to spend more on public health care and to ensure that we have a robust public health care system,” shared Domenic.

The countervailing analogy would be if our public health care system is privatized and employees aren’t able to access the health care services that they need in a timely manner – or, in some cases at all.

That could be due to costs involved in accessing the private sector or long waitlists in the shell of the ‘public’ sector that’s left for those without enough money or private insurance.

What if you’re employee can’t get a cancer screening and their cancer goes undiagnosed until they pass away?

With better health care funding that leads to better outcomes, that employee could have had screening, found the cancer in its early stages and received treatments. In total, that may have meant taking a few months off for treatment and recovery before returning to work.

That’s why Domenic emphasizes that, more health care funding leads to better health outcomes

Instead of following this fiscally sound business model, the Ford government continues to under fund the public health care system. That’s because Ford treats people like numbers and that political choice creates poor outcomes. Domenic maintains the Conservatives really need to look at the situation holistically.

Domenic makes his incredibly popular Tik Toks because he knows that no one has the time to learn the nuances of every issue. He’s hopeful people will hear his message and change their minds once they have the unadulterated facts explained in more than just sound bits taken out of context.

“I’ve seen people who are hardcore PPC [People’s Party of Canada], convoy people, anti-vaxxers slowly over the course of the last few years start to change their minds and be pro-health care and pro-democracy and really shift towards a more holistic view of things and understand the different arguments,” said Domenic.

When Domenic analyzes the 2015 Federal election, he draws the conclusion that Trudeau got his strong majority thanks to a massive influx of youth voters.

He emphasizes that while young people want their voices heard, they don’t all share the same opinion or vote for the same way. However, as a parent, he thinks he may have hit on one health care issue that young people can agree on.

Domenic wants young people to know that if they care about the state of Ontario’s health care system and want their own children to have the same access to universal health care, then they need to act now.

“We are healthy, wonderful, educated adults because the health care system allowed us to stay healthy and to pursue our dreams and goals. And, I want that for my kid,” shared Domenic.

His two-year-old daughter recently had COVID-19. When her fever reached 104.5 F Domenic took her to the local children’s hospital. He was told there would be a three hour wait to triage his daughter. Then, there would be an equally long wait to see a doctor who would most likely prescribe Advil or Tylenol.

Domenic made the decision to take his daughter home and give her the medication without waiting to speak with a doctor. He admits that his family was very lucky that the fever broke over the course of the night.

He explains, “We didn’t have a better option because the better option was in a hospital with lights, tons of crying children, and hours without access to medication which could have made things worse.”

That’s why he emphasizes that any young person planning to have children should be fully invested in saving universal health care to ensure a future that will give their child the same level of access to care, if not better, that they themselves had as a kid.

Domenic argues that when you have a private health care system like the United States, people tend to point to the one person they know who got an appointment right away. The conclusion these people mistakenly draw is that privatization creates tons of appointments with every variety of health care provider and that everyone has equal access. That’s simply not the case.

The teacher in him asks readers to think of it this way, all that space in private US hospitals is available because people could not afford to get the treatment they actually needed.

Domenic’s wife had a difficult child birth. Their child spent four days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). He says that if he was a teacher in the US, even with insurance, his family would either have had to sell their home or take out an insurmountable amount of debt to pay the hospital bill.

“That is not the life that Canadians are used to. That Canadians deserve. Or, that Canadians should be experiencing,” said Domenic.

Turning to the supply side of things, Domenic notes the loss of doctors and nurses to private hospitals and clinics. Yet, the Ontario government is not replacing them.

While the Ford government can open up as many hospital beds as it wants, without the human beings to staff those beds they are fundamentally useless.

Domenic uses this analogy, you are going to premier your movie at a 300-seat cinema, but only five people show up. They were the only people with access.

Now, consider a public hospital with 300 spots available for surgeries and only five nurses. The empty surgeries can’t be filled without more nurses entering the Ontario public system instead of going to work in the East Coast, Alberta, and the US.

Domenic asserts we need to pay, and treat, nurses better in order to attract more people to the profession.

The way health care models are funded means the average person’s tax burden does not have to be increased. It’s all about how we distribute the money that is collected to the various levels of government that’s important.

Domenic doesn’t want the money being taken from working people, he wants people like Galen Weston – who gets $200 million in Lowblaws dividends annually on his 51 per cent of shares – to pay their fair share.

Ontario Health Coalition is holding a citizens’ referendum to stop the privatization of universal health care. Vote online starting May 2 or in person at polling stations on May 26/27.

Doreen Nicoll

Doreen Nicoll is weary of the perpetual misinformation and skewed facts that continue to concentrate wealth, power and decision making in the hands of a few to the detriment of the many. As a freelance...