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London coalition: Province must maintain health-care increases after COVID

Posted: February 1, 2022

(Jan 31, 2022)

By: Norman De Bono

Getty Images

Getty Images

A London advocacy group wants the province to maintain health-care spending increases to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, even after the crisis is over.

The Ontario government increased its annual $69.8-billion health-care budget by about $8 billion to cope with COVID, and that funding must remain in place to help restore beds and staffing level at hospitals, said Peter Bergmanis, co-chairperson of the London Health Coalition.

The coalition submitted a pre-budget hearing report to the province’s standing committee on finance and economic affairs for consideration before an expected spring budget.

“We are seeing before our eyes the impact of 20 years of restructuring and now the government is planning on austerity,” Bergmanis said.

“Down the road, we are concerned they may cut billions when we survive this thing.”

There are ongoing talks between the federal and Ontario government about increasing health-care transfer payments to the province and Bergmanis wants any additional funding to increase beds and staffing in London.

“We need to start growing services again in this city,” he said. “We have lost acute-care beds and psychiatric-care beds in London.

“We are watching it disintegrate before our eyes.”

The report states the need for more personal support workers and nurses. There are about 22,000 vacant nursing positions in Ontario and the government needs an “urgent and intensive recruiting process.”

The Ontario Ministry of Health and London Health Sciences Centre could not be reached for comment Friday.

Ontario is ranked last among provinces in per capita spending in health care and has the fewest beds and nurses per capita, the coalition report said.

The report cited a problem in London where there are more patients than available beds and few ambulances for emergency calls.

The London Health Coalition is the local chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition.

ndebono@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/NormatLFPress

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