Years of cuts leave Durham hospitals overcrowded

QUEEN’S PARK – The Ontario NDP released new information that shows constant overcrowding at Lakeridge Health Oshawa. During question period Thursday, Oshawa MPP Jennifer French demanded to know what Wynne’s plan is to fix the mess in Durham hospitals that her Liberal government has helped create.

Experts pin 85 per cent as the safe limit for hospitals. Information obtained via Freedom of Information requests, shows Lakeridge Health Oshawa operating above safe capacity throughout 2017. Mental health patients at Lakeridge suffered particularly overcrowded conditions, with the department constantly between 114 per cent full and 123 per cent full. 

“In my community of Oshawa, people come into my office all the time to talk about their horribly long wait in the ER,” said French. “And sadly, thanks to years of Conservative and Liberal cuts to healthcare, Lakeridge Oshawa is no different than hospitals in Tillsonburg, Etobicoke, Brampton, Toronto, or Peterborough – this is a province-wide overcrowding and hallway medicine crisis, and the Liberals are simply refusing to admit it or do anything to help all those crowded in, lined up on stretchers in hallways.”

The NDP has obtained and released similar documents showing overcrowding and hallway medicine those communities’ hospitals and many others.

“After the last Conservative government fired 6,000 nurses, closed 28 hospitals and slashed over 7,000 hospital beds, the Liberals cut or froze hospital budgets for years. Families in my riding want to know – how much worse does this crisis have to get before the Wynne Liberals do something about it?”

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has committed to properly fund Ontario hospitals, including a guarantee that hospital funding will always, at a minimum, keep up with inflation, population growth, and the unique health needs of each community. Horwath has also called for a moratorium on layoffs of nurses and frontline care providers, and introduced a plan to create Ontario’s first universal pharmacare program. Providing drug coverage for everyone – regardless of age, income or health history – can improve health outcomes, and reduce demand on emergency and hospital services.