Ontario releases plan to stabilize health-care system amid bed and staffing shortages
The Ontario government has released the next phase of its "Plan to Stay Open" ahead of what they say will likely be a rise in respiratory illnesses in the next few months.
The plan focuses on "health-care system stability and recovery" and aims to add thousands of health-care workers and free up hospital beds. Officials said these additions will help reduce the burden on the broader health system, which has been severely strained over the past few months with staffing shortages.
"Historically, fall and winter are when cases of respiratory illnesses rise, putting strain on emergency departments, hospitals and the broader health system, including long-term care," the 18-page document, released on Thursday, reads.
"This year will also include Omicron. In order to address current pressures, make more progress with surgical backlogs and be properly prepared for any upcoming winter surge, we need to do more."
LONG-TERM CARE RESIDENTS TRANSFERRED TO ALTERNATIVE HOMES
The Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation that will allow senior patients in hospital waiting to be placed in a long-term care home to be transferred to an alternative facility, potentially in a different community, until their preferred spot opens.
Officials said this new policy will free up 250 hospital beds in the first six months.
The government said there will be "mandatory guidelines" used to ensure patients remain close to their loved ones and that there are no additional costs; however, few details were provided as to what those guidelines entail.
Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Minister of Long-Term Care Paul Calandra said this proposal will ensure patients are receiving care in the appropriate settings.
"There are unfortunately those patients who doctors say no longer need to be in a hospital, but can't go home either because they require additional care," he said. "These amendments, if passed, will make it easier to temporarily transition these patients into a long-term care home where they can receive more appropriate care in a more comfortable setting."
He said patients will not be forced to leave the hospital against their will, but the legislation will allow for conversations to "continue" between coordinators, seniors, and their families.
"There is a challenge in acute care and long-term care is in a position to make a difference for the first time in generations," Calandra added.
Calandra also said no one waiting for a bed in a long-term care facility from the priority waiting list will be removed as a result of this policy.
The last time the Ontario government said they would transfer ill hospital patients into long-term care homes to free up space was in April 2021 amid the third wave of the pandemic. This was done as an amendment to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and meant that patients could be moved without their consent or the consent of a decision maker.
- Download our app to get local alerts to your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
Long-term care beds set aside for COVID-19 isolation will also become available by the end of the summer. Officials say this decision was made based on the advice of the chief medical officer of health and will free up 1,000 beds within six months.
They also hope to expand on a program that allows paramedics to transport patients somewhere other than an emergency room or to treat them at the scene. The government says that a pilot program showed 94 per cent of patients avoided the emergency department in the days following treatment.
The plan specifies these policies will "free up" or "make available" hospital beds, rather than create new ones.
INVESTING IN PRIVATE CLINIC SURGERIES
The Ontario government has said it is "investing more" to increase surgeries in both paediatric hospitals and private clinics covered by Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). They will also fund more than 150,000 additional operating hours for hospital-based MRI and CT machines.
The Doug Ford government has come under fire recently for suggesting the privatization of health care was being considered as a way to relieve the burden from hospitals. Since then, both the premier and Jones have been adamant that Ontarians will be able to access services using their OHIP card.
Health Minister Sylvia Jones reiterated this on Thursday when talking about their decision to invest in pre-existing independent clinics, saying there is value in having those facilities take pressure off of health-care partners.
"We need to be bold, innovative and creative," Jones said. "And we need to be clear. Ontarians will always access health care with their OHIP card."
ADDING MORE HEALTH-CARE WORKERS
The PCs are pledging to add up to 6,000 more health-care workers to Ontario's system.
To do this, the government will be temporarily covering the costs of examination, application and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, something they say will reduce financial barriers and save workers about $1,500.
The government has also said it will stabilize agency fees for nurses. The plan says these rates have increased significantly, "creating instability for hospitals, long-term care homes and emergency departments."
Saying that, Jones sidestepped a question about Bill 124, legislation that caps wage increases for public sector workers, such as nurses, to one per cent annually. Advocates and health-care workers have said repealing this bill would greatly help in retaining staff.
Nursing agencies employee staff to work on as-needed basis in a variety of settings during shortages or on short-term contracts.
The government added that emergency departments experiencing "high demand" will be supported in transitioning patients to other nearby hospitals when needed.
The plan has not been well received by Ontario health-care workers, advocates and politicians. The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) said the government's plan is simply "a blatant move that will line the pockets of investors, nothing more," while Unifor called the government out for not including a repeal of Bill 124.
The “Plan to Stay Open” was put forward at the end of March as a strategy to “build a stronger, more resilient health system that is better prepared to respond to crisis.”
It included a permanent wage hike for personal support workers, the creation of two new medical schools, a financial investment in nursing programs, the shoring up of domestic production of personal protective equipment and the creation of 3,000 new hospital beds over the next decade.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
As Hurricane Ian rips through Florida, the immense destruction is also being felt by Canadian property owners, also known as snowbirds. For those who rode out the storm, it may be a long wait until they can book a flight home.
Team-based care is more efficient and benefits both patients and surgeons, so it should be widely adopted across surgical specialties, some surgeons say.
'Street shark': Video captured as Hurricane Ian struck Florida shows mystery fish in flooded backyard
Photos and videos of sharks and other marine life swimming in suburban floodwaters make for popular hoaxes during massive storms. But a cellphone video filmed during Hurricane Ian's assault on southwest Florida isn't just another fish story.
Climate change added at least 10 per cent more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows.
Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through inundated streets Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped amid flooded homes and shattered buildings left by Hurricane Ian, which crossed into the Atlantic Ocean and churned toward South Carolina.
A Russian oligarch indicted in the United States Thursday for conspiring to circumvent its sanctions regime stands accused of, among other things, having flowers delivered to a former member of Parliament in Canada.
While social workers and psychologists can offer tax-free services, bureaucratic confusion over the titles of counselling therapists and psychotherapists means they are the only mental health professionals who have to charge GST/HST, something a new campaign is looking to change.
Authorities say they are investigating how a convicted bombmaker was able to easily escape from a Nevada prison without anyone noticing for four days, before a tip led to his capture at a transit centre in Las Vegas Wednesday night as he prepared to board a bus out of town.
Why home insurance will get more expensive for all of us and unaffordable for some, according to experts
As extreme weather events such as Hurricane Fiona become more severe and common, experts say that could result in more expensive home insurance in the long term and are calling for a national flood insurance program.
A 66-year-old Montreal man who is quadriplegic says he is seeking medical assistance in dying because changes to his home care services are causing him relentless pain and discomfort.
Despite his widely denounced comments about immigrants, Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet could keep a seat in cabinet if the Coalition Avenir Quebec is re-elected Monday, leader Francois Legault said Thursday.
Elections Quebec says it is still looking to hire poll workers to fill vacancies in seven ridings across the province, including the Island of Montreal, with just four days left before voting day.
OPP are on the scene of a serious crash involving four vehicles in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 just south of London, Ont. that sent six people to hospital, one with suspected life-threatening injuries.
Law students at Western University are demanding change after a professor used a racial slur during a lecture earlier this week. During a first-year law lecture on Tuesday, a professor was explaining the specifics of a legal case that used the N word, and while explaining the case to her students, the professor read the word aloud in its entirety.
Beagle cross Feldman plays in his backyard oasis in London, Ont.’s Old South neighbourhood, and is doing much better on Thursday. Just a few days earlier, the two-year-old had a brush with death.
The Kitchener GO line is being held after a pedestrian was reportedly struck by a train Thursday night.
The trial of former Kitchener neurologist, Jeffrey Sloka, who is facing dozens of sexual assault charges, continued in court Thursday.
A collision on Highway 401 has closed the two left lanes, according to Ontario Provincial Police.
A protest planned Saturday in Sudbury is related to the situation in Iran, where a young woman died in custody after being arrested by that country's morality police.
Ontario Provincial Police are looking for a suspect who tried to get a student to get in his car this week in East Ferris.
Sault Area Hospital’s cardiac care unit is getting a financial boost from the province.
A number of Ottawa homeowners want swift action after they allege a man they hired to perform major heating and cooling work took their money months ago without completing or—in some cases—even starting the jobs.
The president of CHEO says a child waited in the emergency department 32 hours before being admitted this week, as the children's hospital continues to deal with record patient volumes and staffing challenges.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson's office would not return a call from the Parliamentary Protective Service during the height of the "Freedom Convoy," its acting director told a committee Thursday evening.
Most of the year, Joe Di Ponio calls the Windsor area home, but in the winters can usually be reached at his second home in Bonita Springs, FL. The past day or so has been an anxious time for him as he struggles to reach his friends or neighbours who were down there when Ian tore through the state as a Category 4 hurricane.
A group of five coworkers in southern Ontario are sharing a $1-million lottery prize.
Four individuals seeking the city's top political post squared off in a debate, discussing topics such as homelessness, health care, community safety and public transit.
The home of a former Barrie, Ont. family living in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, was destroyed as Hurricane Fiona hit the coast last week.
One person suffered serious injuries in a two-vehicle collision that sparked flames in Oro Township.
Police and paramedics responded to a two-vehicle collision at Highway 10 at Old School Road early Thursday morning.
Some Maritimers who lost power for days after post-tropical storm Fiona are questioning whether power utilities have properly prepared their grids for the powerful storms that are increasingly battering the region.
'This is our top priority': Nova Scotia Power continues efforts to get the province back online following Fiona
As Nova Scotia continues its clean up and restoration efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona left damage throughout the province, the focus remains on clearing trees and debris and getting the province back online.
Nova Scotians in need of financial aid following post-tropical storm Fiona can now apply for assistance from the provincial government.
Calgary's own Tegan and Sara call their upcoming Amazon series a "love letter to the '90s."
The number of people moving to Alberta is outpacing those who are leaving by a margin not seen in nearly eight years and some new residents are celebrating their choice to move.
An investigation is underway into the suspected Thursday morning homicide of a little girl in a southeast Calgary neighbourhood.
Winnipeg's leading mayoral candidate is apologizing for his leadership style at a previous job, and denying recent sexual harassment allegations.
Staffing shortages at Winnipeg's emergency rooms and urgent care centres are still translating into longer wait times for emergency care, with nurses being brought in from other departments to help with the workload.
A Winnipeg father who fatally stabbed his three-year-old daughter won’t be eligible for parole for 18 years, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.
An annual event that hopes to inspire young girls to take an interest in aviation has been postponed indefinitely.
An Indigenous mother in B.C. is speaking out after her son’s preschool sent students home with a culturally insensitive craft ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, being marked Friday.
Creative or unrealistic? Ken Sim's ABC party releases full platform, promises to 'rethink the way City Hall is run'
On Thursday, Ken Sim and his ABC party slate of candidates released their full, 94-point platform, saying they will "rethink the way City Hall is run."
A resident of south Edmonton fought back tears Thursday as he described how he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on a cryptocurrency investment that he is now certain was a scam.
After several years of negotiations, Alberta doctors and the province have reached an agreement.
A group of downtown Edmonton business owners and neighbourhood leaders says the core desperately requires safety solutions, or the area is at risk of permanently losing investment.