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Hospital bed money not enough: Nickel Belt MPP, Sudbury Star, Feb 3, 2018

Posted: February 3, 2018

(February 3, 2018)

By: Sudbury Star Staff

‘Hallway medicine’ in Ontario and Sudbury will continue, the NDP’s Health critic and Nickel Belt MPP says.

France Gélinas said Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins’ announcement Friday to extend provincial funding for 1,235 ‘temporary’ hospital beds in the province for one year isn’t enough.

She said the $187 million in funding will do little to east hospital overcrowding.

“The overcrowding and hallway medicine problem in Ontario has been getting worse and worse over the last decade, and it became a crisis before flu season hit,” Gélinas said in a release. “Continuing the Liberal and Conservative program of cuts and underfunding and hoping it will get better is not the answer. To really fix this we need a systemic change in the way we fund hospitals.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the NDP have been releasing internal documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests since May 2016 showing the extent of the overcrowding. The last Conservative government closed 28 hospitals and fired 6,000 nurses; Liberals, according to the NDP, have continued down the same path – shortchanging hospitals in last year’s budget by $300 million.

“We have to stop choosing between bad and worse when it comes to health care. People should be able to depend on our hospitals,” said Gélinas. “We have a world-class health care system in Ontario, but decades of cuts have meant that it’s not functioning as it should.”

Horwath has promised that an NDP government will fund hospitals, at a minimum, to the rate of inflation and population growth, and take a look at the unique needs of each community – things like aging populations. She has also promised to implement a pharmacare program so that everyone can afford the medicine prescribed by their doctor – “which is an upstream solution that will keep Ontarians healthier, and cut down on ER visits.”

In addition, she has committed to a moratorium on front-line health care layoffs.

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, welcomed Hoskins’ announcement, but also said it wasn’t enough.

“Flu season is not the cause of the overcrowding crisis in hospitals,” Mehra said. “This crisis has been building for over a decade as a result of the most extreme cuts to hospital funding in Canada, resulting in severe bed shortages and hospitals stacked with sick people in halls and emergency rooms.”

Mehra warned that the government’s written fiscal plan is to increase funding for one year and then cut health care funding the year after the election in June.

Hoskins, however, said the money for hospital beds will improve access to care for patients and reduce wait times in hospitals across the province.

“Last fall, we provided hospitals with much needed funding to help manage the increased demand for health care services,” he said. “We recognize hospitals across the province need this ongoing support, which is why Ontario is committing $187 million to ensure patients and families can access health care services when and where they need it.”

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