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After denying there was a crisis, Ford government releases plan to fix Ontario’s health care

Ontario Premier Doug Ford takes a tour of Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston Nov. 15, 2021.
Premier of Ontario Photography
Ontario Premier Doug Ford takes a tour of Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston Nov. 15, 2021.

The government of Ontario Premier Doug Ford has released a plan it says will stabilize the health care system after weeks of refusing to acknowledge the system was in crisis.

It was only a few days ago that Ontario’s health minister said calling the system in crisis was inappropriate. But doctors, health care workers and critics have been saying for weeks that the health care system in Ontario was near collapse, with emergency rooms and ICU’s facing critical staff shortages after more than two years of what many describe as covid burnout.

Health minister Syliva Jones announced Thursday the next phase of the government's “Plan to Stay Open,” which focuses on stability and recovery. The plan includes adding 6,000 nurses and freeing up hospital beds.

“Our goal is clear provide the best care possible to patients and residents while ensuring the resources and supports are in place to keep our province and our economy open,” Jones said.

The plan also includes money in registration fees for international or retired nurses to work and to fast track accreditation for international nurses by the end of next year. And elderly patients waiting for long-term care can be transferred to an alternative facility, possibly even in a different community.

That’s supposed to free up 250 hospital beds in the first six months, but that’s not sitting well with the New Democratic Party’s health critics, like France Gelinas.

“You will be placed in the first bed available. I can guarantee you that the first bed available will be in a private, for-profit home, that hasn't been renovated in 50 years and will have four patients to a room,” Gelinas said.

There was no mention of lifting the public sector wage freeze of 1% a year.

The Ontario Nurses Association says the plan is a blatant move that will line the pockets of investors. The Ford government has been criticized recently for a suggestion that privatization of health care might be way of easing the burden on hospitals.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.
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