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Posted: November 4, 2023

(November 3, 2023)

By: Bonnie Heslop, iHeartRadio

A news conference was held in Niagara Falls today on the state of health care in the Region and across Ontario.

CUPE was joined by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and author of the new report, ‘At What Cost?’ which is critical of the Ford government’s plans to use private clinics to tackle long wait times for surgeries.

Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition, Natalie Mehra, says operating rooms are not being used in Niagara to capacity.

“The St. Catharines hospital has 12 operating rooms, of which 2 are not in use at all. On any given day, most of the other ORs will be in use in the daytime but then closed after 6 pm or so. Only one operates evenings and weekends. In Welland, the five ORs are closed entirely after 5 pm and not in use on weekends. In Niagara Falls, there are 4 ORs and only one in use evenings and on weekends.”

“There is a lot of unused capacity in the public hospitals to do tens of thousands more surgeries if they were only funded appropriately and staffed to do so. The government could – and should – have opted to expand public capacity in this way but instead is choosing to go the much more costly, dangerous, and slower route of expanding privatization.”

The report also finds that provinces that have the most for-profit clinics and hospitals (British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta) generally show poorer wait time performance than provinces with no or little to no privatization.

Meantime, Niagara Health says some of the numbers given out on their ORs are not accurate.

They say the St. Catharines hospital has 10 ORs that are used on any given day and there is space shelled for two more for future use. There is also an OR for urgent/emergent procedures after 6 p.m. Mon-Fri and on weekends.

When it comes to the Niagara Falls hospital, Niagara Health says it has 5 ORs with one for use after hours and on weekends for emergencies.

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