Auditor General agrees with NDP – Hospital overcrowding is hurting health care in Ontario

Hospital overcrowding is the result of Liberal cuts to Ontario’s hospitals, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, after the Auditor General confirmed that far too many of Ontario’s hospitals are overcrowded. New Democrats first revealed widespread overcrowding in May, based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

“For months we have been raising concerns about overcrowded hospitals, and for months the government refused to admit there was a problem that needed solving,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath this morning during question period. “Last week the auditor confirmed that 60 per cent of the hospitals in Ontario are overcrowded, and overcrowded hospitals mean more infections and longer wait times.” 

The Auditor General’s 2016 Annual Report confirmed that occupancy rates over 85 per cent result in longer waits for patients and increased risks of infections. Kingston General Hospital has had occupancy rates over 90 per cent for ten straight quarters, from 2013 through to 2015. Across the province, nearly 60 per cent of medicine wards at large community hospitals are reporting occupancy rates over the safe standard of 85 per cent.

According to the Auditor General, “there is much research to show that occupancy rates higher than 85 per cent not only result in longer wait times for hospital beds in acute-care wards, but also increase the risk of transmitting infectious disease” (p. 458). 

At hospitals the Auditor General’s staff visited, investigators “saw patients placed on uncomfortable stretchers or gurneys in hallways and other high-traffic areas that were never designed for patient care” (p. 446).

“This is hallway medicine in Ontario. The government created this problem when they froze hospital funding for four years. And they're making it worse with budgets that still don't keep up with the cost of inflation, never mind population growth,” said Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre.

“Will the Premier stop denying that hospitals are overcrowded and stop robbing our healthcare system of the resources it needs?” asked Horwath. “Will the premier stop pretending nothing is wrong, truly put patients first and stop the cuts to hospitals?”