Overcrowded Ontario hospitals aim for more provincial funding
By: Julie Arounlasy
Leaders from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) went to Queen’s Park Thursday to plead their case to the province’s finance committee for more funding to deal with hospital overcrowding.
The OHA is seeking a 4.55 per cent increase in operating funding for 2018-19, according to their pre-budget submission. That amounts to an extra $815 million and would bring the sector’s total operating allocation for the next fiscal year to about $18.8 billion.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health knows it has an issue with the province’s growing and aging population.
“We know we need to continue to work with the OHA and best support them so they can continue providing the best care possible to patients across the province,” said Laura Gallant, Press Secretary for Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins.
“The conversation with the OHA will continue. We are aware of their pre-budget submission and are meeting with them regularly. That will be ongoing as we work towards our budget process.”
Gallant told Humber News the Ministry of Health continues to add nurses every year and the number of nurses employed in nursing in Ontario increased for the twelfth consecutive year in 2016.
“Since our government took office in 2003, more than 28,949 nurses have begun work in Ontario, including 11,000 registered nurses,” she said.
“Ontario actually has the lowest registered nurse (RN) population in Canada and the OHA is responsible for that situation,” said Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).
The RNAO calculates that Ontario once again had the lowest RN-to-population ratio in the country. In 2016, the province had just 703 RNs per 100,000 people, down from 711 in 2015. This is in contrast to the 2016 average of 839 RNs per 100,000 people in the rest of Canada – 19.5 per cent higher than in Ontario.
At the end of October Hoskins announced there will be 1,200 additional hospital beds made across Ontario, which is a 10 per cent increase in the amount of hospital beds in the province. The announcement included an additional 800 community spaces made like supportive housing and transitional care spaces. That will allow for people who no longer have acute care needs and are able to transition out of hospital and give up their space for people who are in urgent and acute care.
“Our government is taking action to ensure people across Ontario have access to the care they need, when and where they need it,” Hoskins said in a statement.
“By investing in hospitals, community care and home care, we are reducing wait times and improving access to health care services across our health system’s entire continuum of care.”
He also announced the Ministry of Health will invest $40 million in home care support.
Gallant said the investment will go towards the increase in the 1,200 hospital beds, as well as home care services like personal support workers for patients who no longer need hospital care and can go back to their homes.
In addition, the government is also increasing long-term care capacity by 5,000 beds.
“It’s not just about our hospitals. The solution also has to be across the continuum of care,” she said.
“This means we also have to invest in home care and community spaces in long-term care. Just investing in one part isn’t going to be the answer.”