The increase in hospital funding announced yesterday by the Ontario government is not enough to ease the hospital crisis and will actually cause further deterioration, says CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, OCHU-CUPE.

“It doesn’t keep up with hospital inflationary pressures (of 5.6%) let alone the pressures of an aging and growing population, even as we witness an unprecedented crisis in our hospitals. It’s not enough money to improve the staffing and capacity we desperately need. It’s not enough to halt ER closures, reduce surgical waitlists, or seriously address hallway healthcare. It’s just enough funding to maintain a perpetual crisis of care,” said Michael Hurley, president of OCHU-CUPE.

The union representing 50,000 hospital staff had called for a minimum increase of 8% but the budget delivered merely half of that.

Hurley said he was deeply concerned about higher-than-usual demand for hospitals this year due to the Ontario PCs making significant real cuts to the rest of the health care budget, which went up by only 0.07% ($33 million).

“The crisis in the hospitals will continue and in home and community health care the crisis will worsen, access will be restricted further and rationing of care will accelerate. The preventative care offered by these programs helps people stay healthy and reduces pressures on hospitals. Starving them will further strain an overwhelmed system. This government has to take responsibility for its aging population and commit to real growth for as the baby boomers age out,” he said.

Last year, an OCHU-CUPE research report highlighted that hospitals need 60,000 additional staff over four years to add sufficient bed capacity and meet rising demand, necessitating an annual hospital budget increase of at least 5% beyond inflation.

In 2024, the union called for a sufficient increase to help hospitals overcome fiscal deficits in response to government underfunding over the past few years.