Ontario stands to lose 3,712 more hospital beds and more than 16,000 staff under Premier Doug Ford's public service proposals, according to a new report conducted by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
The OCHU, the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (OCHU/CUPE), examined the impact of three key Ford proposals on hospitals across Ontario, which is already funded and staffed at levels well below other provinces.
The OCHU's report, entitled Hallway Medicine: It Can Be Fixed, made several recommendations for ending hallway medicine including, funding hospitals at their actual costs; opening acute, complex continuing care and long-term care beds to deal with overcrowding; investing in mental health and addictions; and stepping away from restructuring and privatization.
"We can end hallway medicine by making investments to meet the needs of an aging and growing population,” said OCHU President Michael Hurley. “These additional investments are not permanent, but they are needed for the life of the baby boom generation. Ontario's hospitals, already dealing with overcapacity and years of underfunding, will not be able to maintain the quality of patient care in the face of demographic pressures without these investments."
The Conservatives promised to end "hallway medicine" during the recent election campaign and committed to ensuring no public-sector layoffs. However, the OCHU believes that thousands of hospital beds and hospital jobs could be cut to meet the target of a balanced budget.
"We have all heard about patients waiting on stretchers in hallways for days. This is a result of the provincial government funding hospitals below their real costs for more than a decade," said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "Ontario has lost more than 18,000 hospital beds in the last 20 years – 'hallway medicine' won't go away unless the government rebuilds capacity – reopens closed ORs, restores the staff and funding for beds that have been cut."
"There is more than enough evidence in Ontario that hospital restructuring and privatization has wasted billions of scarce dollars over the last decade," Hurley added.
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