Ontario’s well being system takes middle stage at London Metropolis Corridor Thursday: NDP – London

Ontario’s well being system takes middle stage at London Metropolis Corridor Thursday: NDP – London

As hospitals across the province grapple with long patient waits and staff shortages, London, Ontario MPPs tell NDP they scheduled a town hall Thursday night to discuss the issue and hear concerns from local constituents.

The town hall, to be held at 7 p.m. at Goodwill Industries on Horton Street, aims to address “the health crisis and the impact of privatization on Ontario’s public health system,” according to a party adviser.

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ER waits greater than 15 hours for non-urgent requests: LHSC

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  • ER waits greater than 15 hours for non-urgent requests: LHSC

The Town Hall message comes a day after the London Health Sciences Center reported significant waits of more than 15 hours in its emergency departments for non-urgent matters. Earlier in the day, the organization saw an increase in wait times, which surpassed the 20-hour mark.

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It comes as LHSC, like other hospitals across the country, is grappling with human resource challenges brought on by retirements and exits, as well as frustration over frozen wages as a result of the province’s controversial Bill 124.

“It’s really a situation where we’ve had the double win of COVID and then Bill 124 and it’s a consequence of this Government’s neglect of the health system,” said Terence Kernaghan, MPP of the London North Centre, one of three MPPs hosting the City Hall on Thursday.

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Code Blue: Emergency departments across Canada are struggling with staff shortages

Bill 124, which limited public sector pay rises to one percent per year for three years, was a slap in the face for nurses who have been doing so much during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kernaghan said.

“So many people have left the profession and the nurses who are still working, I’ve spoken to many who … they graduate, they get hired and within two months they’re taking care of entire departments and floors.”

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According to the province’s Financial Accountability Office, the law is expected to save Ontario $9.7 billion in public sector salaries and wages, however a court challenge by public sector unions aims to overturn and overturn the law.

Unions argued in the Superior Court last month that Bill 124 was unconstitutional and violated their collective bargaining rights. The competent judge reserved his decision.

If successful, the challenge could cost the province $8.4 billion over five years, including potential $2.1 billion in retroactive payments to the majority of workers already affected by the law, according to The Canadian Press .

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FAO’s report, released late last month, says Ontario needs to hire more than 138,000 new workers in the public sector, long-term care, home care and childcare over the next five years.

The report found that public sector wage growth in the province is below inflation and below the average wage increases seen among Ontario’s private sector, local and federal government employees.

“What they need to do is spend the $2.1 billion that they have hoarded and that has been released through public accounts. You have to put that money on the front lines,” Kernaghan said of the government, referring to the $2.1 billion surplus the province reported at the end of 2021-22.

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“You have to pay the nurses what they are worth. Scrap Bill 124 … but also certify internationally trained specialists more quickly. Host a campaign to promote flu and COVID vaccination. Give people permanent paid sick leave.”

The province plans to hire up to 6,000 nurses and PSWs with the goal of freeing up hospital beds and expanding models of care to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits, and has added more than 3,500 new intensive care, acute and post-acute hospital beds, as well more than 11,700 healthcare workers.

Ontario Minister of Health Sylvia Jones has also directed the College of Nurses to drive regulatory changes to allow internationally trained nurses to practice more quickly in the province. The province says more than 1,000 have been deployed to hospitals across Ontario.

Last month, LHSC reported that it had about 540 nursing vacancies to fill.

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“What’s scariest is that this government has to stop their plan to pour public money into the for-profit private clinics and hospitals that they’re trying to do right now,” Kernaghan said.

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In August, Jones announced more publicly-covered surgeries would be performed in private clinics to reduce surgical backlog and hospital pressure.

But Kernaghan believes the ultimate goal of the Ford administration is to “destroy our public health system” and make it dependent on private, for-profit clinics.

“So many nurses have told me through tears that they can’t provide the proper care they know they can because there aren’t enough of them,” he said.

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Ontario hospitals are looking to “unconventional spaces,” new staffing models, to ease the pressure

In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Health said the government is aware that other provinces in Ontario are facing the same pressures “and that more needs to be done.”

“We look forward to continuing to work with all partners, including Ontario Health and the 140 public hospital companies, regulators and healthcare sector unions, to address any challenges and keep Ontario open,” said Hannah Jensen.

Jensen said the province is investing more than $5 billion to support the healthcare system, “building and improving dozens of hospitals” across Ontario.

“Our Government also continues to work with Middlesex-London EMS to provide them with the support they need to maintain ambulance availability in their community,” she added.

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“This includes the Land Ambulance Services Grant of over $20 million and over $670,000 in funding for the Dedicated Offload Nurses Program.”

– with files by Allison Jones of The Canadian Press