February 2nd, 2018

NDP: Surge funding for hospitals not nearly enough to fix overcrowding and hallway medicine crisis

Ontario NDP Health critic MPP France Gélinas says the weak commitment to repeat this year's flu season program for hospitals shows Kathleen Wynne doesn't get what hospitals and patients are dealing with day-to-day -- during flu season or throughout the rest of the year.

Gélinas noted that the surge funding provided to hospitals this year did not alleviate the crisis, and repeating what happened this year will mean that overcrowding will continue and families will continue to suffer. More importantly, Gélinas pointed out, hospitals have been overcrowded year-round.

“The overcrowding and hallway medicine problem in Ontario has been getting worse and worse over the last decade, and it became a crisis before flu season hit," said Gélinas. “Continuing the Liberal and Conservative program of cuts and underfunding and hoping it will get better is not the answer. To really fix this we need a systemic change in the way we fund hospitals.”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the NDP have been releasing internal documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests since May 2016 showing the extent of the overcrowding. The last Conservative government closed 28 hospitals and fired 6,000 nurses, Wynne’s Liberals have continued down the same path – shortchanging hospitals in last year’s budget by $300 million.

“We have to stop choosing between bad and worse when it comes to healthcare. People should be able to depend on our hospitals,” said Gélinas. “We have a world-class health care system in Ontario, but decades of cuts have meant that it’s not functioning as it should."

Horwath has promised that an NDP government will fund hospitals at a minimum, to the rate of inflation and population growth, and take a look at the unique needs of each community – things like aging populations. She has vowed to implement a pharmacare program so that everyone can afford the medicine prescribed by their doctor – which is an upstream solution that will keep Ontarians healthier, and cut down on ER visits. She has also committed to a moratorium on front-line health care layoffs.

“People are waiting, often in pain, at every stage of our health care system, especially in hospitals. Instead of letting the problem get worse, let’s do something about it,” finished Gélinas.