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Liberals should be ashamed of treatment of Scarborough and its hospitals

Posted: May 9, 2016

(May 9, 2016)

Author: Scarborough Mirror

Andrea Horwath says Ontario’s Liberal government “should be ashamed” about treating Scarborough and its hospitals with such disrespect.

The government moved last month to support recommendations for some expensive hospital projects in Scarborough and West Durham, including planning for new hospitals to serve each region.

But Horwath, Ontario’s New Democratic Party leader, said the Liberal administration previously “turned its back” on calls for upgrading Scarborough hospitals, and results can be seen in the state of their emergency rooms and operating rooms.

“The crisis in health care in Scarborough has been created by this government,” Horwath said in an interview Monday, May 9.

Health-care unions and the NDP have been hitting in a more general way at the Liberals for freezing hospital budgets over the past four years.

Horwath and the Ontario Nurses’ Association on Monday called for a “moratorium” on cuts to nursing in the province’s hospitals. The Ontario Health Coalition charged last month hospital budget cuts have led to overcrowding, cancelled surgeries, patients being discharged too early, ambulance delays, infections, and other problems.

The Liberals have pointed out hospitals set their own budgets. Hospitals often describe the replacement of registered nurses with registered practical nurses or other staff as adjustments meant to deliver “the right care at the right time,” and not as cuts affecting patient care.

But Horwath said hospital CEOs are desperate, and are forced into making damaging cuts in Scarborough and elsewhere.

She pledged an NDP government would give hospitals stable funding and annual increases which at least keep up with inflation and population growth.

Horwath said an Ontario government should make health care its first priority. Such arguments could be repeated soon in a byelection campaign brought on by the surprise March resignation of Scarborough-Rouge River Liberal MPP Bas Balkissoon.

After the Scarborough announcement, Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas called for more details, and suggested Liberal “empty promises” did not make up for consecutive years of hospital budget cuts: “This sounds to me like a government that is getting ready for an important byelection,” Thomas said in a release.

Asked if the announcement was made with the byelection in mind, Horwath said she “wouldn’t put it past the Liberals.”

In 2004, she recalled, she won a byelection in Hamilton, during which the ruling party “put everything but the kitchen sink into Hamilton.” But people in Hamilton saw through the Liberals, and Scarborough residents will too, Horwath said.

Progressive Conservatives in Scarborough-Rouge River choose their bylection candidate on June 4 and the Liberals on June 5.

A nomination day for New Democrats in the riding has not been announced.

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