NDP Leader: Liberal and Conservative cuts to blame for Sault Area Hospital overcrowding

Today during question period, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath pressed the Wynne Liberals to explain why they think Sault residents should the pay the price for years of Liberal and Conservative cuts to hospital budgets.

“Health care should be there when people need it, but cuts and underfunding by both the Wynne Liberals and the Conservatives have pushed the Sault Area Hospital to the brink,” said Horwath. “Instead of fixing the problems in this year’s budget, Wynne has shortchanged Ontario’s hospitals, including the SAH, by over $300 million dollars.”

Experts tell us that occupancy rates in our hospitals of over 85 per cent put patients at risk. But the Sault Area Hospital has been forced to run at an average occupancy of 106 per cent for the past five years. Admitted patients are waiting up to 53 hours in the Emergency Room just to get a proper bed, and people who need a CT scan are waiting three-times longer than the provincial target.

Deep cuts started under the Conservatives, which fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds.

“People in Sault Ste. Marie know exactly what’s happening to health care: folks are waiting longer than ever," said Horwath. “The hospital is so overcrowded that they have even stopped using the code for gridlock – it has no meaning anymore because staff are forced to declare gridlock every single day.” 

The Liberals and Conservatives have cut and privatized their way to a crisis point in our hospitals – it’s time to turn things around for the people of Sault. Ste. Marie. The NDP has committed to providing proper funding for hospitals, and Horwath has called for a moratorium on the firing of any more frontline health care workers and the party also plans to introduce a universal Pharmacare program so that every Ontarian has access to the medicine that their doctor prescribes.