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
Quebec's major party leaders are making one final appeal to voters ahead of Monday's provincial election.
Researchers are calling for vigilance in a new study that outlines an obscure family of viruses that causes Ebola-like symptoms in certain monkeys, warning that one of these viruses could soon make the jump to humans.
A passenger's cellphone automatically alerted responders after a car hit a tree early Sunday in a Nebraska crash that killed all six of its young occupants, authorities said.
After two years of COVID-19 restrictions curbing Halloween, Canadians are expected to ramp up celebrations this year. But the rising cost of goods and ongoing supply chain issues could put a kink in demand for costumes, candy and decorations.
Don't cry for me, Alberta, I was leaving anyway. It's Premier Jason Kenney's swan song message as he prepares to depart the province's top job, forced out by the very United Conservative Party he willed into existence.
A regional park in Coquitlam remained closed Sunday as crews continued to battle a growing wildfire.
Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw said Sunday he has been treated for two forms of cancer in the past year.
Brazil's top two presidential candidates will face each other in a runoff vote after neither got enough support to win outright Sunday in an election to decide if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world's fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office..
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a tight-knit coastal community in Fort Myers is coming to grips with devastation at their doorstep — and is working together to rebuild.
Quebec's major party leaders are making one final appeal to voters ahead of Monday's provincial election.
No one was injured in a major fire that ripped through and destroyed a building that was under construction in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough just after midnight on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, Leah Warner got the scariest news of her life.
A frost advisory has been issued for the city of London with temperatures expected to drop near the freezing mark overnight.
Two men allegedly trying to break into a Wallaceburg home were confronted by those who lived there Saturday night.
Waterloo regional police have arrested a man in connection to a sexual assault that took place on Thursday in Kitchener.
Exchange students from Spain got to try out a popular Canadian sport for the very first time on Saturday.
The Waterloo-Wellington chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress held a ‘United for United Ukraine’ rally on Sunday afternoon.
Ontario's police watchdog lays charges against a Sault Ste. Marie Police Service officer for an incident which occurred last year.
CIBC'S Run for the Cure was hosted in many cities on Sunday, including in North Bay.
The Sudbury’s Sea Cadets took to the water this weekend where they learned all about what it takes to sail.
Police investigating 'unnecessary and unacceptable' behaviour during post-Panda Game party in Sandy Hill
Seven people have been arrested and dozens of tickets were handed out for open alcohol and excessive noise during Panda Game celebrations in Ottawa on Saturday. Police say they are investigating "unnecessary and unacceptable" behaviour.
The MRC des-Collines de l'Outaouais police say emergency crews responded to a call for an accident with injuries during a race at the Luskville Dragway just after 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a fatal accident involving an amateur-built aircraft north of Bancroft, Ont.
According to Windsor Police, the Ambassador Bridge is currently shut on the Canadian side
With off-leash pets causing disturbances at local park, some say more dog parks in Windsor could help
A Windsor woman says dogs are being let off their leash in Paterson Park, causing disturbances with neighbourhood pets. The daily occurences have some wondering if the City of Windsor needs to open more dog parks.
An emotional and rewarding day for the return of The Canadian Cancer Society's CIBC Run for the Cure in Windsor on Sunday.
The use of a remembrance Poppy on election signs in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Newmarket has stirred controversy for two local candidates.
Caledon OPP are searching for three suspects after the second armed in one week.
Fire crews were busy battling a fire at an automotive repair shop in Barrie on Sunday.
Thousands of party-goers filled several streets in Halifax Saturday night as part of unsanctioned Dalhousie University homecoming events, Halifax Regional Police say.
More than 48,000 customers were still without power in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Sunday around 3:30 p.m.
Nine days after Hurricane Fiona battered Prince Edward Island, tens of thousands remain without power, but with so many downed lines, electricity isn’t the only thing that needs to be fixed.
Police are on scene at what they are calling an active crime scene in southeast Calgary.
Specialized equipment no longer needed by the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) is being sent to firefighters in Ukraine thanks to a generous donation from an Alberta entrepreneur.
The 28th annual Calgary Run for the Cure brought out thousands of pink-clad people who care Sunday morning.
Voters in Winnipeg can have their say early in this month's municipal election starting Monday.
Visitors to Assiniboine Park can now learn more about the history of Canada's residential schools at a newly-erected totem pole gifted to the Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO).
Art lovers were down at St. Vital Centre Sunday afternoon hunting for some new pieces to hang up at home.
Two Vancouver medical experts are calling for more to be done to counter the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, after a fresh warning was issued about taking ivermectin.
No rain relief in sight for crews battling Metro Vancouver park fire after 'warmest September in history'
After one of the driest months on record in Metro Vancouver, Environment Canada says it will be a week to 10 days before the region sees any rain.
B.C. man who installed hidden cameras in workplace bathrooms sentenced for voyeurism, child pornography
A B.C. man has been sentenced to one year in jail for voyeurism and child pornography, charges that stemmed in part from filming his colleagues and their children with "strategically placed" hidden cameras in workplace bathrooms.
Police are asking drivers and residents to avoid the area of Rabbit Hill Road SW just south of Ellerslie Road while police contain a residence where weapons may be present.
Alberta is committing $20.8 million over the next four years to fight human trafficking.
Officials and community members will gather Sunday to bid farewell to Scona Pool after 65 years.