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Budget will include funding boost for hospitals, Wynne says

Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government has not intentionally squeezed hospitals as it has increased funding to other health sectors.

Patients in the former sunroom on the fifth floor in the Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton. The hospital, like others in Ontario, has had to use unconventional spaces to accommodate patient overflow.

Torstar News Service Order this photo

Patients in the former sunroom on the fifth floor in the Hamilton General Hospital in Hamilton. The hospital, like others in Ontario, has had to use unconventional spaces to accommodate patient overflow.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario’s cash-starved hospitals can expect some good news in next week’s provincial budget.

“We know that hospitals in Ontario need more financial support and in the budget, you will see this assistance. At this moment, I cannot give specific details on specific figures or areas of focus. But we have listened to the people of Ontario.”

She made her remarks to reporters after meeting with officials from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

The hospital sector is struggling after five years of austerity funding from the province. As a story in last Sunday’s Star revealed, wait times for patients admitted through ERs have hit peak levels, more patients are being admitted than discharged, and numerous hospitals have run out of space for the overflow of patients.

Overcrowded hospitals have been forced to house patients in “unconventional spaces,” including sunrooms, offices and storage rooms.

“We recognize that now we’ve come to the point it wasn’t about intentionally squeezing hospitals. It was about working to transform a health-care system that was in need of that,” Wynne said.

She explained that her government has increased the overall health budget annually in recent years, and that much of the increase has gone to the home and community care sectors.

The hospital sector co-operated with the province during this time, asking for little in the way of extra funding so that other sectors could grow.

But the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has said it can’t continue at this rate without jeopardizing front-line care.

OHA president Anthony Dale was pleased to hear Wynne’s comments.

“The OHA welcomes Premier Wynne’s comments recognizing the need for a significant investment in hospital services. This is a critical moment given the capacity pressures facing hospitals and the wider health system,” he said.

Wynne said her government’s ongoing transformation of the health system is aimed at addressing the demographic and acuity changes of patients. Improving the co-ordination between the various sectors will reduce wait times and increase access, she said.

Dale said the OHA looks forward to hearing more details about the government’s investment in hospitals on budget day, April 27.

“It goes without saying that the people of Ontario expect hospitals, government and other system partners to continue to work together closely in order to ensure access to high quality health services,” he said.

But the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has said it can’t continue at this rate without jeopardizing front-line care.

OHA president Anthony Dale was pleased to hear Wynne’s comments.

“The OHA welcomes Premier Wynne’s comments recognizing the need for a significant investment in hospital services. This is a critical moment given the capacity pressures facing hospitals and the wider health system,” he said.

Wynne said her government’s ongoing transformation of the health system is aimed at addressing the demographic and acuity changes of patients. Improving the co-ordination between the various sectors will reduce wait times and increase access, she said.

Dale said the OHA looks forward to hearing more details about the government’s investment in hospitals on budget day, April 27.

“It goes without saying that the people of Ontario expect hospitals, government and other system partners to continue to work together closely in order to ensure access to high quality health services,” he said.

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