Gélinas to Wynne re Hospital Overcrowding Crisis: Flu season is coming, why aren’t we ready?

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Health Critic echoes OHA concern that flu season will throw crowded hospitals into crisis

QUEEN’S PARK – During question period Tuesday, Ontario NDP Health critic MPP France Gélinas questioned the Wynne Liberals about the overcrowding and hallway medicine crisis in Ontario’s hospitals – warning that with the imminent arrival of flu season the crowding will only get worse.

“Premier Wynne shortchanged Ontario’s hospitals by $300 million dollars this year, after years of frozen budgets under her Liberal party and deep cuts by the previous Conservative government,” said Gélinas. “The Ontario Hospital Association has already told the Liberal government that hospitals need immediate investment to be able to deal with flu season – which is just around the corner. Why hasn’t Premier Wynne taken this warning seriously?”

Citing internal documents obtained by the NDP through Freedom of Information laws and released Monday, Gélinas underlined the severity of the situation and called for action from the government to fix the mess that it helped create in our health care system.

“In January 2017, Humber River Hospital in Toronto was forced to admit 94 sick patients to ‘unconventional’ beds – that means sick Ontarians on stretchers in hallways, patient lounges converted to make room for overflow beds, or even people being treated in shower rooms,” said Gélinas. “In February at Humber River, there were 97 people admitted to unconventional beds, in March it was 61 and in April it was 68 sick Ontarians. That’s 320 people forced to receive medical treatment with no privacy, and no dignity. And that’s just at one hospital. It’s unacceptable but the Liberals seem determined to just ignore this crisis.”

The NDP backs the Ontario Hospital Association’s call for immediate funding to prevent a flu-season crowding crisis. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has also committed to funding hospitals at minimum to the rate of inflation, population growth and to meet the unique needs of rural, small and northern communities. Horwath has also called for moratorium on the firing of any more front line staff, and has announced her party’s intention to implement the country’s first universal pharmacare program so that every Ontarian – regardless of age or income – can afford the medicine their doctor prescribes.