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Ontario Health Coalition talks provincial election at Durham hospitals

Posted: May 24, 2018

(May 24, 2018)

By: Jennifer O’Meara, Clarington This Week

Ontario Health Coalition

Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra, along with Charlie Courneyer, the co-chair of the Durham Health Coalition, were in front of Lakeridge Health Oshawa on May 18. They discussed the facts and myths from the health-care platform from all parties involved in the 2018 election campaign. – Ron Pietroniro / Metroland

DURHAM — Health care advocates from the Ontario Health Coalition toured hospitals across Durham Region on Friday, May 18 asking people to vote for their health in the upcoming provincial election.

“Health care is polling as a top issue leading into the June 7 provincial election,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We really need to see concrete promises in the places where we see health care in crises.”

The OHC wants to see a 5.3 per cent increase to the base funding for hospitals, and a commitment to increase the number of hospital beds.

“We have had over 10 years of less than inflationary increases, or zero increases, in hospital budgets,” said Sara Labelle from the Durham Health Coalition. “It’s now time to rebuild our hospital system.”

She said there have been too many years of health care funding not keeping up with the needs of a growing and aging population.

Charlie Courneyea, co-chair of the Durham Health Coalition, said this winter he experienced the strain on local health care when he was in a crowded emergency department at Lakeridge Health Oshawa.

“It was standing room only. Every single chair occupied and people standing in the halls,” said Courneyea, who waited for hours, then decided to leave before he was able to get in to see a doctor.

He said local hospitals need funding for more beds, so that emergency department staff can admit patients who need a bed and operate more efficiently.

“We want commitment from all parties that they’re going to invest in our hospitals. So people aren’t in hallways, bathrooms, closets,” said Labelle. “Most hospitals are bursting at the seams.”

The OHC is a nonprofit and non-partisan organization working to advocate for the public health care system. Mehra did a quick synopsis of the OHC’s take on the party platforms for the June provincial election:

Conservatives: No clear commitment to increase hospital funding. Mehra is concerned the promised cuts to public service spending can’t all be found in CEO salaries and will end up impacting front line health care workers and services.

“The numbers just don’t add up there,” said Mehra.

Liberals: Announced a real increase for hospitals, up to 4.6 per cent, and 1,200 new hospital beds. However the following three years of the term, hospital funding is supposed to drop again to the inflation amount.

“We have a bump up for the election and a written plan to reduce,” said Mehra.

New Democratic Party: Promising a 5.3 per cent increase to hospital funding for the next four years, reopening 2,000 hospital beds immediately and promising a capacity plan to assess how many hospital beds are needed in Ontario.

“The NDP this time around has the best platform,” said Mehra.

Visit for more information on the Ontario Health Coalition.