QUEEN’S PARK – The Official Opposition NDP’s Interim Leader Peter Tabuns and Health critic France Gélinas say Doug Ford should be in the legislature taking action to fix the health care crisis, not packing it in until February while respiratory season rages.
According to Ontario’s air ambulance and medical transport service, Ornge, it’s seen a sharp rise in the number of transportations of kids under 18 — transporting over 544 kids under 18 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 2 alone.
“Doug Ford should not be closing down the legislature when critically ill children are being flown all over the province in search of an empty ICU bed,” said Tabuns. “It’s scary to have a sick child and no hospital nearby with capacity to help, and it would be unthinkable to let this crisis go unanswered by the government for weeks and months over the winter as viruses circulate.”
Adult hospitals are also in crisis. On Dec. 9, Marathon’s Wilson Memorial General Hospital in Thunder Bay District had to shutdown its ER due to a staffing shortage.
“Northern communities have broken access to health care to begin with,” said Gélinas. “It’s frightening when one hospital shuts down its ER and the nearest one is 70 kilometres away.
“We can fix the health care crisis in Ontario by giving health care workers competitive benefits and wages and using incentives to return nurses to the frontlines. Instead, Doug Ford is making things worse with plans to appeal his wage-capping legislation, Bill 124, which has driven nurses out of the sector.”
The NDP is calling on the Ford government to follow the lead of other provinces and use incentives to hire more nurses and bring back those who left due to poor pay and burn out.
“Ontarians can’t keep waiting for the solutions we know can help fix the health care crisis,” said Tabuns. “Families with little ones, northerners, all Ontarians deserve to be able to count on robust public health care when and where they need it.”
Other solutions the NDP is pushing for include implementing stronger safety standards to improve working conditions for hospital staff; launching a massive COVID and flu vaccination campaign; immediately giving people 10 sick days; and committing to and implementing the Make Kids Count plan, which would mean more funding and staff for pediatric hospitals.