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The Ford government says Brampton is getting a new hospital. The details aren’t so clear

Posted: March 27, 2021

(March 26, 2021)

Nick Boisvert, CBC News

After enduring years of struggles and seeing its local health care system stretched beyond its limits, relief could finally be coming to Brampton in the form of a brand new hospital.

Maybe.

It depends on who you ask.

The provincial government included in its 2021 budget a commitment to build a new “inpatient wing” at the Peel Memorial Centre in Brampton, a health-care facility opened in 2017 that does not currently qualify as a hospital.

But details in the budget itself are sparse and include no references to a dollar figure for the project, a proposed timeline, or a description of services that will be offered as part of the expansion.

Premier Doug Ford said during a Friday news conference that the expansion will include 250 new beds. He said an emergency department may also be considered at an undetermined future date.

“We’re building a new hospital,” Ford said. “It’s going to be a beautiful, state of the art hospital.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath offered a wildly different interpretation of the announcement.

She said the 2021 budget offers “no sign at all of a commitment for a brand new hospital in Brampton.”

“It’s not fair to string Brampton along yet again,” she told reporters during a Thursday afternoon news conference outside Peel Memorial.

Brampton in need of 800 additional beds

While a debate over what qualifies as a hospital risks devolving into a semantic quagmire, Brampton does have a well-established need for additional emergency health-care services.

Brampton officials have for years said the city’s health-care system is “chronically underfunded” and that it struggles to meet the needs of the city’s growing population.

The city of approximately 600,000 only operates one hospital, the William Osler Health System’s Brampton Civic Hospital. The emergency department at Brampton Civic receives an average of 130,000 patients annually, despite being built to handle only 90,000.

Estimates cited by Brampton and health-care groups say the city needs at least 800 additional beds to serve its current population.

It’s unclear if the proposed inpatient wing at Peel Memorial Centre will offer enough beds or the type of services to significantly relieve existing pressure on the health-care system.

Unclear if hospital services will be included in new wing

William Osler Health System has described its plans for an inpatient facility at Peel Memorial as an expansion that would help serve the city’s “aging community, including continuing complex care and rehabilitation.”

Those plans and the 2021 budget do not explicitly commit to the creation of other services typically associated with hospitals, such as emergency departments, laboratories or intensive care units.

“Is there an emergency department involved in that, or not? What is the actual plan?” asked Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

“The government really does need to tell the people of Brampton, urgently, what is being planned for them.”

Others, including local community health advocate Gurpreet Malhotra, expressed more optimism about the announcement.

“For me, and I think for many in Brampton, that is the definition of a second hospital,” said Malhotra, the CEO of Indus Community Services, though he acknowledged that further capacity will likely be needed.

“One day, I can see Brampton needing a third hospital,” Malhotra said.

“At least we’ve got a second wing going in now.”

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