By MPP Toby Barrett
Over the past year, Ontario’s response to COVID-19 has been to support frontline workers, build healthcare capacity and invest in our hospitals.
In response to the Omicron variant, the Ontario Government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is applying additional public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity and social gathering limits.
Last year, we continued to respond to the pandemic by creating more beds for example, Norfolk General Hospital (NGH) got a boost of $2.35 million for up to 12 new beds.
To address critical upgrades, repairs and maintenance to their facilities and to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for patients. Haldimand-Norfolk hospitals received more than $2.3 million combined for upgrades.
In September, we once again announced funds would assist our local hospitals. Norfolk General Hospital will receive $986,811, West Haldimand, $1,182,240 and Haldimand War Memorial, $220,476.
The 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, outlined a total of $1.8 billion in additional investments for hospitals in 2021-22. This includes an increase of $778 million in operating funding to meet current and future demands for services. Locally, Norfolk General Hospital will receive $1,105,600, which represents a 2.8 per cent increase. Haldimand War Memorial Hospital and West Haldimand General will both see a two per cent increase. Overall, the total increase in provincial funding to hospitals just since 2019-2020 is $3.9 billion.
Investments in other hospitals in Ontario help to relieve pressures on our local hospitals, like NGH, experiencing increased hospitalizations and ICU occupancy rates. Ontario continues to make necessary investments in our local hospitals and to build critical system capacity. The government’s capital plan will invest about $20 billion over the next 10 years in healthcare infrastructure projects.
Recently, Norfolk County’s Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program received an injection of $2.5 million. These funds will help seniors avoid hospital admissions by focusing on relief of symptoms at home.
Fixing long-term care has always been important for our government, and that commitment continues. The pandemic has highlighted the immediate need for action.
The Ontario government is committed to build 30,000 new long-term care beds over the next decade, and we are well on our way to that goal.
As a newly elected Mike Harris government member, one of my first meetings was with the board of Parkview Meadows in Townsend. That was 26 years ago, and we subsequently saw the commencement of new build at not only Parkview Meadows, but also at Grandview in Dunnville, Edgewater Gardens in Dunnville, associated with War Memorial Hospital, and Norview in Simcoe.
During my 15 years in Opposition, we saw nothing locally from the previous government.
It was not until the return of the present administration, that we were to see announcements, again, for hundreds of new long-term care beds through new builds in Port Dover, Hagersville, Dunnville and Delhi.
We now have eight long-term care facilities in Haldimand-Norfolk, either built or in the works – over 25 years of planning and hard work, and we recently, as of last Fall have a proposal from Norfolk General to replace the NGH Nursing Home.
Investments in Haldimand-Norfolk’s health care system over the past year have been unprecedented as we pull out all the stops to get people through the biggest public health threat of our lifetimes.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk