With Ontario’s population growing and aging, today’s announcement by the PC government of 3000 more hospital beds over ten years means patients can unfortunately expect hallway medicine to continue. The PCs have come up way short on the bed investment needed to deal with aging boomers, says Michael Hurley the president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.
The province’s population is growing at about 1 per cent a year. It is also aging and will add another 1 per cent to hospital care demand. 3000 beds is less than 10 per cent growth over 10 years, or less than 1 per cent per year. Just to maintain the current hospital bed capacity (over the next decade) 6000-7000 beds need to be built.
“This is a loser announcement for patients because what the PC’s have actually told Ontarians is that they will cut our hospitals’ real capacity by 10 per cent over the next ten years, taking into account the impacts of an aging and growing population,” says Hurley. “Instead of ending hallway health care, this announcement confirms that they are going to make the crisis worse. Doug Ford’s one per cent solution falls far short of what is needed.”
Some of these beds will be built through public, private partnership (P3) arrangements which will syphon off money that should be going to patient care into corporate profits. Ontario’s Auditor General has reported that P3 projects have wasted $8 Billion that the province could have used to invest in public services.
“P3 hospitals are much more expensive to operate than hospitals that are publicly owned and operated. P3 hospitals have 1/3 less bed capacity than a publicly owned and operated hospital as a result of that inefficiency.
“This government needs to learn from the failing and extremely expensive P3s in North Bay and Brampton and commit that new construction will be publicly owned. Given the demographic challenges we face over the next 20 years in Ontario we need every hospital dollar to be spent on care,” says Hurley.