Hospital Overload: Ford Government Begins Its Assault on Ontario Hospitals

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1756 ... February 5, 2019

Hospital Overload: Ford Government Begins Its Assault on Ontario Hospitals

Ontario Health Coalition

The advisor on healthcare to the Ontario Conservative Government of Doug Ford, Rueben Devlin, released his report on January 31 with the headline that “more hospital beds will not solve hallway medicine,” subtly twisting – and contradicting – the Ford government’s election pledge. The Ontario Health Coalition immediately called the report out. Mr. Devlin, it should be noted, has a long history of driving cuts in the health sector and neoliberalizing delivery. He is the former CEO of Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto, where, under his leadership, three entire hospitals were closed and replaced with one privatized P3 hospital that had too few beds to serve its catchment population.

The... former Liberal government re-opened mothballed hospital sites to deal with the overcrowding and lack of capacity at Humber River and other regional hospitals. Devlin was also the President of the Ontario Conservative Party during the Mike Harris years in which Ontario’s hospitals suffered massive restructuring. In order to cut $800-million, the Harris government spent $3.9-billion in restructuring costs, according to the Provincial Auditor. Local governance and democratic hospital boards were eliminated from dozens of communities, reams of hospitals were closed, and, ultimately, the restructuring led to the devastation of services in many medium and smaller hospitals.

The Ontario Health Coalition regularly reports on Ontario’s standing in terms of hospital funding and measures of capacity and outcomes with the rest of Canada and many other countries. They report that:

  • Ontario has the fewest hospital beds of any province in Canada, with 1 fewer bed for every 1,000 people compared to the average of other provinces (aggregate total shortfall is 14,000+ fewer beds than the average of the rest of the provinces);
  • Ontario has the highest rate of hospital readmissions in Canada. Just over 1 in every 9 patients discharged end up readmitted to hospital within 30 days, pointing to too-early discharges;
  • Ontario has the lowest hospital nursing hours per patient of any province in Canada and the gap is growing each year; and
  • Ontario has fewer hospital beds per person than all of our peer countries and ranks third from the bottom of all OECD nations.

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