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
Canadians in Russia who hold dual citizenship should leave the country immediately or risk being conscripted for mandatory military service, the Government of Canada is warning.
Canada is headed for a 'severe' and 'almost inevitable' recession in early 2023, according to the head of economics at Macquarie Group, which states Canada will face an approximately three per cent contraction in gross domestic product and a five per cent rise in its unemployment rate during the predicted recession.
Ceremonies, marches and other gatherings are taking place across the country Friday as communities mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The federal statutory holiday was established last year to remember children who died while being forced to attend residential schools, as well as those who survived, and the families and communities still affected by lasting trauma.
A revived Hurricane Ian pounded coastal South Carolina on Friday, ripping apart piers and flooding streets after the ferocious storm caused catastrophic damage in Florida, trapping thousands in their homes and leaving at least 17 people dead.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to illegally annex more occupied Ukrainian territory in a sharp escalation of his war. Ukraine's president countered with a surprise application to join the NATO military alliance.
As Russia's war in Ukraine enters a flammable, even more dangerous phase, analysis from the Associated Press on CTVNews.ca looks at whether a wider war is looming with devastating results for the world, perhaps not seen since 1939-1945.
Russia vetoed a UN resolution Friday that would have condemned its referendums in four Ukrainian regions as illegal, declared them invalid and urged all countries not to recognize any annexation of the territory claimed by Moscow.
Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization by up to 30 per cent for fully vaccinated patients, according to a new study.
For the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, CTVNews.ca spoke to several Indigenous leaders about feelings around the day more than a year since the suspected gravesites made world news, and in the weeks following Queen Elizabeth II death that took over the news cycle during a month when decolonization is meant to be top of mind.
The Parti Québécois (PQ) has suspended a candidate because of his comments about Islam and women who wear a religious veil.
A 16-year-old boy was rushed to hospital after being stabbed in the parking lot of a public pool in Montreal's Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough.
'We will come together': Montrealers, Indigenous advocates march for second National Truth and Reconciliation Day
A march through Montreal's downtown core was among the events, ceremonies, and speeches marking the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
'I met with residential school survivors for inspiration': Indigenous murals unveiled in downtown London, Ont.
A panel of seven Indigenous murals was unveiled in downtown London, Ont. on Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Veronica Ninham wipes away tears as she listens to speakers talk about the pain of relatives who attended residential schools.
Hospital officials are informing the public of a temporary Emergency Department closure at Walkerton hospital.
Kitchener’s first Artist-in-Residence plans to share stories of underrepresented voices through portraits
The City of Kitchener announced, earlier this month, that Bangishimo Johnston would be the 2022 Artist-in-Residence.
A growing garden in Breslau, aimed at nurturing relationships and reconciliation, is now ready for harvest.
Songs of determination and steps of solidarity filled the streets of downtown Kitchener Friday morning, marking the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Communities across northern Ontario are marking National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – also known as Orange Shirt Day – with ceremonies and events recognizing the impact of the Canadian Indian residential school system.
It was an emotional day on Nipissing First Nation as a survivor shared her deeply personal experience attending a northern Ontario residential school on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Ontario's ninth Indigenous university officially opened in Sault Ste. Marie across from a former residential school on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Highway 417 is closed between Metcalfe Street and Carling/Kirkwood avenues until 6 a.m. on Tuesday for the replacement of the Rochester Street bridge.
An Every Child Matters banner covered the sign on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway on Friday, as the federal government was urged to rename the road in Ottawa's west end.
A construction worker is being treated for injuries after being struck by a large piece of concrete at a construction site in downtown Ottawa.
Windsor police say they “strongly discourage” everyone from attending a possible unsanctioned homecoming street party.
Students and staff across Windsor and Essex County commemorated the second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday.
Essex County OPP have launched an investigation into the death of a woman in Leamington.
The home of a former Barrie, Ont. family living in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, was destroyed as Hurricane Fiona hit the coast last week.
Toronto city councillor Michael Thompson has been charged with sexual assault, his lawyer has told CP24.
Employees who have suffered wage losses due to the destruction of post-tropical storm Fiona on Prince Edward Island are set to benefit from a new program by the provincial government.
‘The truth hurts but it also heals’: Halifax recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Drums and singing could be heard at the Grand Parade in Halifax as many gathered in orange to honour residential school survivors and those who never returned home.
Major clean-up efforts continue in Cape Breton on Friday as many on the island remain in the dark.
Indigenous community members and their allies gathered in Morley, Alta., on Friday to recognize the intergenerational traumas of Canada’s residential school system.
The nerves were high for Tsuaki Marule as she sang O Canada in front of thousands of fans at the Toronto Blue Jays game on Friday.
Calgarians gathered to remember, educate and listen on Friday for the country's second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Former students of Assiniboia Residential School were honoured Friday at the unveiling of a commemorative monument and gathering place on Academy Road.
A memorial sculpture honouring those lost and affected by the residential school system is giving Winnipeggers a new gathering place for truth and reconciliation.
Emergency crews were on the scene of a multi-vehicle collision at the corner of Portage Avenue and the Perimeter Highway Friday.
'It's still a lot of hurting': Survivors of former North Vancouver residential school return to the site
Survivors of a former North Vancouver residential school were among hundreds who gathered at the site for a pilgrimage Friday.
The Musqueam Indian Band has gifted a replacement name for Trutch Street to the City of Vancouver, more than a decade after members first called for a change.
The City of White Rock marked the second ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday by raising the flag of the Semiahmoo First Nation at city hall.
A prominent member of Edmonton's soccer community was one of two victims in Wednesday's fatal crash in Mill Woods.
The province unveiled images of a new permanent statue to be placed on Alberta legislature grounds that will honour residential school survivors and the children that never made it home.
A meteorite with special significance is being returned to Indigenous people after more than 100 years.