Algoma and North Shore hospitals face highest rates of overcrowding due to Liberal cuts: NDP

Freedom of Information requests reveal that Liberals have no standards for hospital bed occupancy, as overcrowding continues unabated at local hospitals

Queen’s Park – Michael Mantha, the NDP MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, said that new information released by the Ontario New Democrats shows evidence of overcrowding in many Ontario hospitals, with the Sault Area Hospital, and the Blind River District Health Centre, facing overcrowding for one of the longest periods of time in the province.    

“While the Liberals refuse to even admit that hospital overcrowding is a problem in Ontario, patients and families in Sault Ste. Marie and Blind River know that their hospitals have been filled over capacity. Now we know this has been going  for at least two years, one of the longest periods of times anyone in the province has had to face overcrowding,” Mantha said. 

“And as patients find no room in their hospitals, the Liberals keep cutting hospital services, laying off health care workers, and closing beds. It’s clear that health care is the silent crisis of the Wynne government.”

Documents obtained by New Democrats through Freedom of Information (FOI), show acute care beds are over 100 per cent capacity in hospitals across the province, significantly exceeding internationally recognized safe occupancy rates.  At the Sault Area Hospital and the Blind River District Health Centre, the FOI documents show the hospitals occupancy rate has been above 100 percent for eight consecutive quarters, or two years. 

“The continued overcrowding at the Sault Area Hospital, and the Blind River District Health Centre, means long wait times for patients.  The Liberals have long known about this problem, and should have tackled it by protecting hospital services.  Instead, the Premier keeps cutting frontline health care workers and closing beds,” said Mantha. “The cuts to Northern hospitals must stop. Families in Sault Ste. Marie and Blind River need health care they can count on.”

Through a separate request, New Democrats also learned that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, “does not have standards, guidelines, policies, or best-practices with respect to hospital bed occupancy as it relates to hospital operations.”

The Liberals have frozen hospital base operating budgets for four straight years, and since the 2016 Budget was released, Ontario hospitals have continued to announce new rounds of cuts and bed closures.

New Democrats are calling on the Liberal government to stop cutting hospital services, place a moratorium on any further nursing cuts, ensure that hospital operating funding keeps up with inflation and population growth, while recognizing the unique challenges that smaller communities face.