Successive years of staff, program, bed and patient care cuts would never have happened at the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) if Ontario funded hospitals at the same level as the rest of Canada, a report released today in North Bay has found. Fewer Hands, Less Hospital Care, compared funding, staffing, nursing, and readmissions in Ontario and other provinces.

Based on the latest data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), report findings show that the provincial government shortchanged North Bay hospital by over $81 million in funding over five years. Moreover, if Ontario hospital funding equaled that of other provinces NBRHC would have received an additional $61 million in provincial dollars. “Rather than making cuts and butchering services, the North Bay hospital could have made considerable investments in patient care,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

The CIHI figures show Ontario funding for hospitals is $1,395.73 per capita. The rest of Canada, excluding Ontario, spends $1,749.69 per capita. In other words, provincial and territorial governments outside of Ontario spend $353.96 more per person on hospitals than Ontario does. That is a whopping 25.3 per cent more than Ontario. Compared to the other provinces, Ontario’s underfunding amounts to a $4.8 billion shortfall in hospital funding.

Overall there would be an additional 45,500 hospital employees, 15,200 of them nurses, in Ontario if funding was on par with the average for the rest of Canada. Ontario’s level of funding results in 60 fewer nurses and 177 fewer people providing care in the hospital.

“In Ontario this lower funding is counted in 6 hours less nursing care per patient in our hospitals and significantly shortened lengths of stays. In North Bay where there have been successive years of staffing and care cuts there would have been no budget deficits, no cuts. Instead there would have been money to invest in additional patient care had Ontario been funding hospitals on par with the other provinces,” says Hurley.

CIHI data shows that per capita expenditures on hospitals has declined for the last three years with real hospital funding cut by 10 per cent. Ontario has fallen a long way behind other provinces since the Liberals were elected in 2003 — and especially since the beginning of Liberal austerity in 2010.

This gap, has significant consequences for local communities and patients, says Hurley with “thousands of patients turned away from hospital or sent home while still acutely ill. All the while shifting system costs to individuals, forcing them and their families to travel hundreds of kilometers for treatment. We call on the provincial government to fund our hospitals at the average of the rest of Canada.”

Average Ontario hospital funding for the population the size of North Bay in 2005/6 would have been about $2.56 million less than average funding for the same population outside of Ontario. But by 2015/16 the funding shortfall for a population the size of the City of North Bay would have exploded to about $19 million. 

For more information, please contact:

Michael Hurley
President, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE)

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications