By MPP Toby Barrett
Our health care system, as the phrase ‘hallway health care’ suggests, has been facing capacity issues for many years, and we’ve been hearing examples of that across Haldimand-Norfolk and during debate at Queen’s Park.
We hear so much about our growing population in areas like the GTA, and certainly the rapidly aging population in our area and across rural Ontario. We’re also looking at an increased number of residents with much more complex needs.
Ontario’s healthcare system does not have the right mix of services. It does not have the right combination of beds or digital tools to be ready for what’s coming.
Problems range from long wait-lists, to poor value for money, and a poor patient experience. Essentially, Ontario’s health care system has been on life support for an extended period of time.
Approximately 1,000 patients are in hospital hallways every day. The average wait time to access a bed in a long-term-care home averages 146 days. This has been a tremendous increase over the last five or six years.
I am seeing positives that will go far in reducing waitlists and hallway healthcare while maintaining patient safety and ensuring high standards of care. As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, we are now spending $1.9 billion more on health care.
The Ministry of Long-Term Care has given Hagersville’s Anson Place the green light to build 68 new beds and to upgrade 60 existing beds. Likewise, Dover Cliffs in Port Dover is slated to build 58 new beds with 70 existing beds upgraded.
Last January, a number of hospitals in Haldimand-Norfolk received funding through the Health Infrastructure Renewal Fund: Norfolk General received $2,312,296; Hagersville’s West Haldimand General Hospital received $657,518; and $518,341 went to Haldimand War Memorial in Dunnville.
Further, in October I announced an injection of funding of $1.5 million for Norfolk General; $118,000 for West Haldimand; and, $133,000 for Haldimand War Memorial Hospital.
These recent announcements were well received and long overdue. To quote our area hospital administrators:
“The additional funding for both West Haldimand and Norfolk General hospitals is certainly appreciated and will help both hospitals to continue providing exemplary care to our communities.” This came from Kelly Isfan, president and CEO of the Norfolk General and West Haldimand hospitals.
“News of this additional funding is wonderful and greatly appreciated.” David Montgomery, president and CEO of War Memorial. “It comes as a welcome relief as we continue to manage costs and push ahead towards the realization of an Ontario health team for Haldimand county.”
During a recent speech in the Ontario Legislature, I reminded the House of the phrase ‘Ontario health team’—a fairly new approach to enable efficiencies and effectiveness critical to tackling the issue of hallway health care.
I spent 20 years working for an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health. I spent countless hours on district health council committees. Many have worked through the LHIN system. We are doing our best to ensure the next restructuring—the Ontario health teams—will address the serious issues we’re dealing with today.
People in Ontario deserve a better healthcare system – one that is connected and more responsive to their needs. They deserve a system that’s accessible and sustainable regardless of where they live, how much money they make, or the kind of care they require.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk