NDP MPP Paul Miller again pushes Wynne Liberals on GTHA hospital overcrowding

QUEEN’S PARK—Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area NDP MPPs Paul Miller (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek) and Peter Tabuns (Toronto Danforth) again pushed the Wynne Liberals to stop turning its back on GTHA families who are forced to suffer through long ER wait times only to be treated on stretchers in hallways. The NDP MPPs raised the issue directly with the Minister of Health during a committee meeting on Tuesday.

“In Hamilton, patients are left languishing in waiting rooms for hours when they visit the ER only to then be put on a stretcher in the hallway,” said Miller. “Hamilton families deserve a bed when they visit a hospital, not a stretcher in the hall, but this is what health care has become under Wynne. Hospital cuts have had a devastating impact in our region with 121 unfunded overflow beds needed at Hamilton Health Sciences on Oct. 10 alone—a new record.”

Miller’s questions are the latest in a series of concerns New Democrats have brought forward about hospital overcrowding in Hamilton and across Ontario. Yesterday, Hamilton Mountain NDP MPP Monique Taylor spoke about Jim Sanford, a Hamiltonian who was left lying on an ambulance stretcher inside a packed ER at Juravinski Hospital for hours. Hamilton Health Sciences has not been below 100 per cent occupancy for 14 months on some wards and St. Joseph’s Healthcare had 26 per cent more patients than medical beds in August of this year.

Miller stated that overcrowding impacts critical hospital operations like surgeries.

“In our community, 25 surgeries were cancelled or postponed in the past month because there were not enough beds—16 at St. Joseph’s and at least nine at Hamilton Health Sciences,” said Miller. “Now, families must wait and worry as they try to reschedule.”

“It simply shouldn’t be this way,” added Tabuns. “But under Wynne, there is an overcrowding crisis throughout the GTHA with hospitals operating well above the 85 per cent that is considered safe—patients and hospital employees are paying the price for the Liberals underfunding of our hospitals."

The questions from Tabuns and Miller in a committee of the legislature came on the same day as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath revealed internal hospital documents showing that a shocking 4,352 patients were treated in a hospital hallway last year at just one hospital, Brampton Civic. 

"We have to stop the damage Wynne is doing to our healthcare system," said Tabuns. "And we know Patrick Brown isn’t the answer. He stood by the last Conservative government as it cut 6,000 nurses and more than 7,000 hospital beds."

Andrea Horwath and the NDP are determined to make sure GTHA families can count on hospital care – which is why Horwath has committed to prioritize hospital funding that, at a minimum, keeps up with inflation, population growth and the unique needs of each community. The NDP has called for a moratorium on frontline staff layoffs, and Horwath has laid out a plan to introduce Pharmacare -- a drug plan that covers everyone, regardless of age or job status. With one in four Ontarians not taking their prescriptions because they can't afford them, pharmacare would relieve pressure on emergency rooms and hospitals. 

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Media contact: Steve Piazza, 416-325-5105