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Ontario hospitals at risk for drastic underfunding

Ontario hospitals at risk for drastic underfunding 

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A report released earlier this month finds Ontario’s hospital sector to be at risk of drastic underfunding. As inflation rises and the population ages, all will be worse for an already neglected healthcare system, an Ontario union says. 

Among the casualties that Ontario may be expected to face is a net loss of 4,102 beds, and 28,187 staff. Five years from now, Sudbury hospitals may lose 72 beds and 574 hospital more than are already missing for the population.  

According to the report by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions—an affiliate of CUPE—Ontario is already missing the mark on significant measures of success in its healthcare system. Ontario not only has the fewest staff members and beds per capita in Canada, but also spends $677 less per patient than the national average.  

So far, the Ford administration has been committed to a 1.8% increase in hospital spending until 2023-2024. 

Yet, inflationary costs, as well as population growth among people aged 85 and over, combined with regular costs in the medical sector, will mean a relative decrease in funding. 

Adding to the union’s suspicions are “unidentified and unannounced” spending cuts they believe are necessary to satisfy the Ford governments 2019 budget. 

“You’re going to be swamped, really, is the bottom line,” Michael Hurley, the union’s president, commented. “Where are these people going to be cared for? They’re either not going to get care, or they’re going to be stacked in hallways waiting for care.”

In May 2019 report the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario discovered similar results. 

The FAO determined that the 1.8% projected health spending increase is the “second time in over 40 years that… growth averaged less than 2.0 per cent over an extended period.” To cite an impressive precedent, in the 1980s budget increases averaged as high as 12.4%. 

As CBC reports, a spokesperson for Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Health Minister, commented on this month’s report. She found the conclusions to be “unrealistic and misleading” and cited a number of expected expenditures. 

Sudbury, for instance, will be given a funding increase of $10.6 million. Provincewide, to “focus on increasing frontline care delivery” $144 million will be invested. Otherwise, an additional $27 billion has ostensibly been set aside for hospital beds.

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