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Health-care workers tell the government how they feel (11 photos)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014   by: Donna Hopper

Yesterday marked the the expiration of the Canada Health Accord which, for the last decade, has enabled stable funding and health standards - including wait times, home health care provisions, and prescription medication - across the country.

Protests saw members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) and Unifor rally outside Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti's office, and CUPE members, along with other groups representing the health interests of Algoma's senior population, assembled in front of MP Bryan Hayes' office at 11 a.m.

Canadian health care providers are angered that the federal government has not taken steps to renegotiate the Canada Health Accord and fear its expiration will further damage and fragment the nation's already fragile health care system.

In a release issued last week by ONA, President Linda Haslam-Stroud stated: “Ontarians deserve the same high-quality health care as every other Canadian, yet Ontario - the most populous province in the country - has just seven RNs per 1,000 Ontarians. We need to hire 17,500 more RNs in Ontario just to catch up to the other provinces, and yet we saw the loss of some 1,000 RN jobs since 2012.”

"Our ability to address that grievous gap in nursing care is predicated on the federal government’s equitable funding of the provinces," she continued. "While Ontario has to address a budgetary freeze for health care funding that has undercut our ability to attract and retain experienced RNs, the federal government bears a responsibility for shortchanging the provinces.”

Locally, recent cut-backs at the Community Care Access Centre, including senior patient care and home health care provisions, and an inadequate number of beds at the Sault Area Hospital, put additional strain on area health care providers and their patients, said the protesters.

"Since the Liberals have been in power, they have not added any long-term care beds in Algoma," David Harasymiw, chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Health Coalition, told SooToday.com.

He said many area seniors will avoid seeking medical care for fear of becoming a 'bed-blocker' at our already deficient Sault Area Hospital.

"Everything is happening on the backs of our seniors who actually built this place, and they put money into the hospital. What are they getting for it? They're getting a two-inch foam stretcher in the emergency department."

In response to these protests concerning what is perceived to be a “proliferation of private clinics” in Ontario, Orazietti told SooToday.com Monday he was concerned but not surprised by the protests.

“This goes back to when we talked about construction of the new hospital.”

“Everyone knows their OHIP card still works at Sault Area Hospital, so a lot of the fear mongering that was being done by the Health Coalition then was just that [fear mongering],” Orazietti said. “Public health care is a primary focus with respect to our government…we have substantially increased funding for public health care.”

He stressed that one of the first things the Liberal Party did in Ontario was pass legislation that reinforced its commitment to public health care.

Orazietti cited the building of the new Sault Area Hospital, the introduction of radiation therapy services to Sault Ste. Marie, an increase in the number of doctors practicing in Algoma as a result of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and our new nurse practitioner clinic as examples of this commitment.

“Yes, there is more work to do, there is increasing pressure on our health care system given the demographics in Northern Ontario and across the province, but there are no efforts whatsoever by our government to undermine public health care or introduce some form of private healthcare,” he stated.

Orazietti said the federal government needs to do more to support Ontario’s health care system.

“When $641 million was taken away [by the federal government] in transfer payments to Ontario, that has an impact on our ability to deliver services in healthcare, education or infrastructure,” he explained. “The federal government committed to six percent healthcare funding and they haven’t lived up to that, they’re funding at three percent.”

Monday's rallies took place as Orazietti accompanied Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne on her tour of Sault Ste. Marie which included stops at the Soo Curlers Association, Francis H. Clergue Public School, and Algoma University.

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Comments
7
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Gurpy 4/1/2014 9:20:44 AM Report

"Public Health Care is a primary focus with respect to our government".
I know David, I know! That`s why the ministry of health will be getting my health card back OR it will be put into my paper shredder! A cheaper option now that postage has increased. I personally am soooo tired of all the LIES! I survived for at least a decade without a family doctor. I`m not dead yet and will probably out live all of you!
right wing 4/1/2014 10:22:33 AM Report

641 million you say...double that was wasted on the gas plants fiasco.

Imagine how many nurses could have been hired with over 1.2 billion and counting wasted on the gas plants that never got built.
Imagine how many nurses could get hired with all the money wasted on useless "green" energy.
Do the right thing Ontario...just keep on voting the liberals back into power.
Lynds 4/1/2014 11:44:16 AM Report

right wing - what is the "right thing"? The Conservatives?
LAWL 4/1/2014 12:11:43 PM Report

Please people in the healthcare field, we need money to be spent on our military. There is a bogeyman lurking and we are all petrified. We need to spend more money on fighter jets and protect Canadians from the lurking terrorists that are ready to pounce on our citizens.
There are a lot of armoured vehicles to be purchased for every city in Canada. Were do you think we are going to get that money. People need to sacrifice a bit to be safe! :P
Slim Shady 4/1/2014 12:32:52 PM Report

@LAWL

Are you saying that it is a waste of money to have military jets, boats etc. to monitor and defend our country? If so I am sorry for all the Canadians that died protecting your freedom.

It is naive to think just because it has been 69 years since the last world war that a country could not pose a threat to Canadian soil. If you don't patrol your borders and enforce policy you are a prime target for someone talking away what you have.

You can't expect the military to operate on 40 year old helicopters etc.

learningaswego 4/1/2014 1:13:16 PM Report

Yeah, let's spend more on healthcare; especially be sure to spend more on unionized health care workers' salaries, which is what the "protest" is really all about.

Who needs that other stuff anyway - like roads, water and sewer systems, street lights, schools, provincial parks, etc. etc..

After all - the 50% of all tax revenues in Ontario we now spend - just on health care - isn't enough, is it?

And we have all this excess money, right, so let's spend more. What, no more money , no problem - just add to the debt - after all, our grandchildren and future generations who will be stuck with the tab (the interest payments alone will bury them), don't know or care. Let's just kick that problem down the road to future Ontarians.

Right of Centre 4/1/2014 1:42:53 PM Report

LAWL, you are confusing areas of responsibility.

The provincial governments are responsible for health care, the federal government is responsible for the military and defense. That's why the health care premium tax is on the provincial portion of your tax form.
Comments
7
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of SooToday.com. If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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