NORTH BAY, ON – According to Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data, Ontario spends 25.3 per cent less than the rest of Canada on hospital care. That means that provincial funding for North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) would need to increase by nearly $23 million a year in order to reach the average hospital funding level in the rest Canada.
In the past, Ontario closely followed Canada-wide spending patterns on hospital care. The CIHI numbers also show that Ontario is in the third consecutive year of an absolute per capita expenditure decline on hospitals, said Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) at a media conference in North Bay today.
At the media conference OCHU released data broadly focused on comparing Ontario’s hospital funding with that of other provinces and, specifically about how much provincial funding for the North Bay hospital would need to increase in order to reach the average hospital funding level in the rest of Canada.
“The rain of cuts in North Bay in acute care, with the elimination of nursing and direct patient care and mental health beds and programs, can be traced to the Ontario Liberals’ decision to lag hospital expenditures by 25 per cent relative to the other provinces. Among provinces and territories, Ontario’s Liberal government is uniquely financing a huge cut in corporate taxes by slicing billions from direct hospital patient care. Patients in communities like North Bay across Ontario are paying the price with less care,” says OCHU president Michael Hurley.
Ontario has the shortest in hospital patient stays in the Canada. On a Canada-wide basis patients get 14.2 per cent more nursing care than patients in Ontario.
“Hospitals in the rest of Canada have 21 per cent more practical nurses than hospitals in Ontario. That means patients in other parts of Canada get more direct nursing care than Ontario patients,” said Hurley.
Based on CIHI data, Ontario per capita hospital expenditures would have to increase from $1,417.31 in 2012/13 to $1,534.95 in 2015/16 just to keep up with inflationary costs in health care overall. Instead the Ontario government expended only $1,395.73.
In addition to falling behind the rest of Canada on overall spending for hospitals, Ontario also lags in spending in other areas. “Despite the claim by the Ontario Liberals that they are putting funding into home and community care, Canada as a whole is spending 16.7 per cent more than Ontario on other health care, primarily home and community care. The provincial Liberals’ line that funding is going into care in the community is false. Equally false,” added Hurley “is their assertion, that hospitals are getting more money, when the CIHI data shows that in Ontario per capita spending on hospitals is down.”
In fact, Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) records also confirm a significant drop in provincial funding of nearly $23 million for NBRHC for the year ending March 31, 2015. “This landed the hospital, which is already hampered by higher operating costs tied to its private construction, with a big deficit, and yet another round of bed, program and staff cuts,” said Hurley.
A community campaign calling for increased provincial funding for NBRHC and a stop to cuts, is currently underway. The Ontario Health Coalition has organized a “Take Back Our Hospital” demonstration on Monday (November 30) at North Bay’s Lee Park. CUPE’s new national president, Mark Hancock will speak at the rally.
OCHU is the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents nearly 75,000 health care workers in Ontario.
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