Official Opposition calls for urgent action as hospitals crisis sends sick kids hours from home
NICKEL BELT — Ontario NDP Health critic France Gélinas is calling on Doug Ford to put the province’s $2.1 billion surplus into health care, including staffing up hospitals, before COVID and flu season.
The distress signals coming out of hospitals are only getting louder. In the last week alone, the ICU reached capacity at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Ottawa’s Queensway Carleton Hospital issued a wait-time alert, and reports revealed cases of kids requiring intensive care being transferred to hospitals in other regions.
“Having a very sick child is scary enough without having to worry about your little one being sent to a hospital hours away from home,” said Gélinas. “Can you imagine the decisions parents might have to make? If you have other kids, one parent might have to stay behind to look after them. If you have to work, you might not see your sick child for days and have to have difficult conversations by phone.
“In other hospitals, the emergency department closures, hallway medicine, and long waits haven’t gone away, and flu season isn’t even here yet. Health care workers are already burnt out, and working short-handed and underpaid. If we don’t shore up our public health care system now, our hospitals are vulnerable to the added pressure of flu season and rising COVID cases.”
Public accounts recently revealed that the government had a $2.1 billion surplus last fiscal year.
“Ontarians are paying for Doug Ford’s cruel decision to leave billions of dollars sitting on the table unspent, instead of invested into our public health care system,” said Gélinas. “People who rush to their local ER and have to travel to the next closest hospital, or wait hours and hours to be seen by a physician, could have worse health outcomes. So could people who have been waiting for months in pain for delayed surgeries, and who will be forced to wait even longer.”
Gélinas said Ontario’s $2.1 billion surplus should be used to help address the health care staffing crisis that is bringing hospitals to their knees, and that the province’s preparations for flu season must include:
- Competitive wages and benefits for nurses, including getting rid of Ford’s wage-capping Bill 124
- Recognizing more internationally trained health professionals more quickly
- A campaign to promote COVID-19 and flu vaccines
- 10 permanent paid sick days per year
- Stopping Ford’s scheme to shovel public money into for-profit private clinics
“We should be investing in staffing up and strengthening Ontario’s public health care system, not withholding and diverting public funds to for-profit, private clinics that leave people with big bills and long waits,” said Gélinas. “The Official Opposition NDP is issuing an urgent call to the government to inject its $2.1 billion surplus into the province’s health care system before flu season strikes. We cannot wait for the return of the legislature to act on this — not when the worsening hospitals crisis is sending sick kids hours away from home.”