Ontario Health Coalition cites Hamilton examples to illustrate province-wide hospital cuts
Posted: April 13, 2016
(April 13, 2016)
By: Mike Pearson, Stoney Creek News
St. Joseph’s Healthcare is closing the east end general psychiatric clinic on King Street, which serves 30 per cent of total visits in the region for patients with addiction, depression, anxiety and psychiatric disorders. Existing services will be consolidated at St. Joeseph’s West 5th psychiatric hospital. Announced in early February, the transition is expected to be fully implemented by early summer.
A new report by the Ontario Health Coalition cites the relocation of St. Joseph’s Healthcare’s east end general psychiatric clinic as an example of province-wide healthcare cuts in response to declining government funding.
The Ontario Health Coalition released Beyond Limits: Ontario’s Deepening Hospital Cuts Crisis, April 13.
The coalition questions the Liberal government’s claim that hospital funding was increased by 2.1 per cent in the 2016 budget when a previous four-year freeze on hospital global budgets is taken into account.
“The fact is that Ontario’s 2016 budget leaves Ontario’s hospitals the ninth consecutive year of real-dollar global hospital budget cuts unless the government changes course,” the report states.
The coalition argues funding increased by only one per cent in real terms, which is well below the rate of inflation.
“(The government) has now moved off of the freeze but the fact remains that the 2016 budget prescribes another year (of) real-dollar budget cuts for most hospitals because funding does not keep pace with inflation,” states the report.
In Hamilton, the report notes, St. Joseph’s Healthcare is closing its east end general psychiatric clinic on King Street, which serves 30 per cent of total visits in the region for patients with addiction, depression, anxiety and psychiatric disorders.
Existing services will be consolidated at St. Joseph’s West 5th psychiatric hospital. By early summer, the consolidation is expected to be complete.
In February, St. Joseph’s mental health and addiction programs vice-president Romeo Cercone said a review of services at both locations is underway to develop a new model of care and ensure nobody falls through the cracks.
In another example, the OHC references Hamilton Health Sciences’ move to eliminate 100 full-time jobs in the face of a $30-million budget deficit, and a proposal to close a hospital within the next 10 years.
Overall, the OHC determined Ontario was ranked No. 8 in Canada in 2014 in hospital funding as a percentage of all program funding, at 15.34 per cent. The report also found Ontario ranked second-last ahead of Quebec in 2015 for per capita hospital spending, at $1,419 per person.
In response to a question from NDP health critic France Gélinas, Premier Kathleen Wynne told the provincial legislative assembly April 13 the government is investing an additional $1 billion to strengthen the overall health care system.
Wynne said the money is above and beyond the $345-million enhancement for Ontario hospitals in this year’s budget. The premier also addressed the government’s intentions to have Local Health Integration Networks take over Community Care Access Centres. Ontario has 14 LHINs, which have the same boundaries as the 14 CCACs. The LHINs were created in 2007 to plan and integrate local health services and to deliver provincial funding.
“The health care system is under transition, there’s no doubt about that,” Wynne told the legislature. “The way health care is being delivered is changing. There are community services that are available now that were not available in the past, and there’s more of that that is necessary. So we do have to look at the system as a whole.”
The full OHC report is available at http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/wp-content/uploads/final-beyond-limits-report.pdf.
The OHC represents more than 400 member organizations, a network of local health coalitions and individual members.