Throughout this election campaign, health care has been at the forefront, and it should be. A high-functioning public health care system should be important to each and every resident of Ontario. We count on the provincial government to fund and facilitate safe, high-quality care. We want to know that it will be there when we need it – whether it’s having access to a primary care provider like a family doctor or nurse practitioner, being able to obtain home care so seniors can stay safely in their own homes, ensuring there is capacity in facilities like nursing homes for those transitioning to long-term care, or being able to sustain acute and emergency care in the hospital.
The Ontario Hospital Association has summed it up well, saying Ontario’s hospitals are on the brink. Many hospitals are under enormous pressure to provide care to a growing and aging population. The provincial funding formula for hospitals poses significant and unique challenges for medium-size hospitals and needs substantial change now. The formula also fails to recognize, adapt to and support the unique challenges of rural multi-site hospitals like Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare that have additional infrastructure, staffing and other expenses to deliver core services where we have fewer community health resources. Where amalgamations have occurred to drive efficiency, like here in Muskoka, we have not been adequately supported to stay afloat and in the black.
We are fortunate to have amazing health care professionals supporting inpatient and outpatient care across two hospital sites. But we can’t do it without appropriate support from the province and a long-term solution to operating challenges. Significant investments in hospitals and across the continuum of care are required, as well as a plan to adequately prepare for patient needs – now and in the future. A deliberate and purposeful strategy must be identified to ensure that medium-size hospitals are able to provide and sustain the services that our community deserves.
We offered each of the candidates an opportunity to sit down for some open dialogue about funding and capacity challenges facing Ontario hospitals and how these challenges relate to MAHC. No matter which Party is elected in June, now is the time for urgent action on health care. Now is the time to increase funding, reduce wait times, and put an end to hallway medicine so that patients can continue to receive the highest quality of care in the environment that they deserve. When you cast your ballot on June 7, think of your hospital and who will meet the growing health care needs of Muskokans and our fellow Ontarians.