A report released today in Cobourg shows that hospitals in Northumberland could lose (in today’s terms) 12 beds and 97 staff under the provincial Conservatives’ fiscal plan. Patients, too, are losing out as across the province, emergency room wait times have increased 13.2 per cent since Doug Ford’s government was elected just over a year ago.

“Far from ending hallway medicine, the hospital system is strained with too many patients and not enough beds, and the situation is getting worse, not better, under this government. The tiny funding increase for home care announced a few weeks ago needs to be seen in the context of a cut of billions of dollars more for hospitals over the next five years,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

The report, released Wednesday morning, incorporates the recent budget and economic review of Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) which shows that the government plans $8 billion in health care cuts by 2023-24.

The OCHU/CUPE report, ‘Protecting What Matters Most,’ looked at health ministry spending restraint outlined in the 2019 Ontario budget, while factoring inflation, population and aging growth cost pressures. Inflation, population growth, and aging cost pressures, combined, equal 4.17 per cent. Based on the health care funding that the PCs have outlined, for the next five years, the real per-capita funding shortfall is over 3 per cent per year.

In other words, Ontario would be looking at a real per-capita funding cut of well over 15 per cent over the next five years. If that level of cuts were applied to Ontario hospitals today, province-wide, that would mean 4,012 fewer beds and 28,187 fewer staff to serve our current population. For Northumberland Hills Hospital, the cut will be 12 beds and 97 staff. Northumberland Hills got about $56 million in provincial funding in 2018-19. A five-year 15-per-cent real cut would be equal to operating the hospital in 2018-19 with $8.4 million less.

Despite PC announcements for new long-term care beds to alleviate hallway health care, an additional 1,087 Ontarians are on the waiting list for beds, an increase of 3.2 per cent in one year.

Recently, the Ontario Hospital Association reported that this past June was the worst on record for hallway medicine for at least a decade.

“The crisis of hospital bed capacity shows up first in the ER as patient admissions exceed available inpatient beds. The Conservatives cannot protect what matters most, as they said they would, without increasing capacity and funding levels for hospitals. We are on course for dramatic cuts at Northumberland’s hospital and across the province,” says Hurley.