Health care wait times are too high in the Sault: NDP

The NDP says years of cuts and underfunding by Lberal and Conservative governments have led to health care wait times that are too long in the Sault – and it's time to turn that around with a voice that will fight for more resources.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), 90 per cent of admitted patients wait as long as 53 hours in the Sault Area Hospital ER for a hospital bed. Sault's hospital is the second most crowded hospital in Ontario, according to numbers revealed by a recent Globe and Mail article.

"The Sault hospital has been so overlooked and under-resourced, people in pain waiting to be admitted to the hospital wait more than twice as long as they do in the rest of the province," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. "We can't allow Kathleen Wynne to do any more damage. Years of cuts and underfunding by her Liberal government and the previous Conservative government have pushed health care in the wrong direction, and we need to start to turn things around now."

This year, Premier Kathleen Wynne is shortchanging Ontario hospitals by $300 million. Wynne and the Liberals' years of underfunding and cuts comes on the heels of years of Conservative cuts to healthcare, including firing 6,000 nurses, closing 28 hospitals and slashing over 7,000 hospital beds.

NDP candidate Joe Krmpotich said that has pushed health care to a tipping point in the Sault. 

"Our community can't handle any more health care cuts," said Krmpotich. "Years and years of cutting, underfunding and shortchanging the Sault on the resources we need means the Conservative and Liberal governments have put our hospital into gridlock.

"We're waiting at every stage. We wait in the ER. We wait for a bed in the hospital. We wait and wait if we need a specialist appointment or medical tests. Health care in the Sault isn't being properly funded, and it's time for someone to step up and fight for our patients."

Krmpotich pointed out that another specialist is now leaving the Sault – one of just three cardiologists. He said under-resourcing health care has made it tough to attract specialists. 

Some of the health services Sault patients are waiting longer for include:  

  *   CT scans – 78-day wait in the Sault compared to the 28-day provincial target

  *   Kidney stone surgery – 134-day wait in the Sault compared to the 76-day provincial average

  *   Breast cancer surgery – 37-day wait in the Sault compared to 30 days in the rest of the  province

  *   Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) following heart attack – Sault patients forced to travel to Sudbury or elsewhere

  *   Admission to the hospital – 53.4-hour wait in the ER for admitted patients compared to 28.2-hour provincial average 

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has vowed that under an NDP government, hospital funding will keep up with inflation and need, and northern communities will get the attention and funding they deserve. Howath and Krmpotich have called for an immediate moratorium on the firing of any more front-line health care workers.