Chapter activist Roy Brady
The Council of Canadians Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter is commenting on the Ontario government's budget for hospitals in the province.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered the provincial budget which includes a 3.1 per cent increase in spending on hospitals. That amounts to about $518 million in additional funding this year after four years of flatlined spending.
The Peterborough Examiner reports, "It's about time the province starts spending on hospitals, said Roy Brady, chairman of the local chapter of Council of Canadians. 'This is coming after years of hardly anything (for hospitals)', he said. Brady is a constant watchdog of the hospital budget. He would have liked to see funding specifically to reduce wait times at emergency departments. Instead the province is handing over money to hospitals with crowded ERs and hoping administrators will deal with the problem. 'They're saying, 'OK you guys - fix it,', Brady said."
The Globe and Mail explains, "The increase to the province’s health budget ... falls short of the 4.9-per-cent increase the sector was seeking to alleviate overcrowding and emergency-room waiting times, but counts as a thaw after the province froze hospital budgets in four of the past five years."
NDP leader Andrea Howarth comments, “While our hospitals are overcrowded and patients wait for days on stretchers in hallways, the announced hospital funding will barely keep up with the rate of inflation."
Ontario Health Coalition executive director Natalie Mehra says, “There is no money to restore services (from 10 years of cuts). What this means is that patients will remain lying on stretchers in hallways and frail seniors will continue to be kicked out of hospitals. All the suffering we’re seeing now will continue." She adds that 3 per cent only barely exceeds the 2 per cent inflation rate and that at least a 5 per cent increase would be needed to keep pace.
Ontario also has the fewest number of hospital beds per capita in the country.
The Globe and Mail also notes, "Overall health spending is projected to grow by 3.3 per cent this year, about a percentage point more than the average annual increases in the lean years between 2011 and 2016. However, this year’s increase is still well below the amount health-care costs are expected to grow. The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, which published a sobering report on the province’s health-funding challenges in January, says inflation, population growth and population aging will drive health-sector expenses to grow by 5.3 per cent a year until 2020."
The next provincial election will be held on or before June 7, 2018.
A Forum Research poll conducted late last month suggests the Progressive Conservatives would win a huge majority of 86 seats in the 122 seat legislature (with 43 per cent of the popular vote), the NDP would be the Official Opposition (with 29 seats and 28 per cent of the vote), and that the governing Liberals would be reduced to 7 seats with 19 per cent of the vote (meaning they would also lose official party status in the legislature).
Chapter activist Roy Brady