Ontario's political party leaders pledge to fix health care shortage in the north
Ontario's main political parties are promising to hire more doctors and nurses and increase the number of spaces at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to address the need for health-care workers in the region -- a problem that a hospital president says requires both immediate and long-term solutions.
The longstanding shortage of health-care workers in the region has prompted numerous calls for significantly increased investment in the sector to address local shortfalls, often accompanied by warnings about the consequences of inaction on the issue.
Such shortages forced the Margaret Cochenour Hospital in Red Lake, Ont., to close its emergency room for 24 hours at one point in late March due to a shortage in local physicians able to work in the department.
Sue LeBeau, the hospital's CEO, said the 24-hour closure was "very difficult" for hospital staff and created "a sense of anxiety" in the Red Lake community, which recently experienced two forest fires and flooding.
"It was quite terrifying, actually," LeBeau said, noting there was a period of about five hours during which both the hospital's ambulances were more than 200 kilometres away carrying patients to another facility.
"It's something that I think our staff and our physicians are still grappling with."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said it's been clear for "quite some time" that residents in the north don't have equitable access to health-care, including doctors and nurses.
To address the problem, she said her party would immediately hire and recruit 300 doctors in northern Ontario, including 100 specialists and 40 mental health practitioners, and train more doctors and health professionals to work in the north by expanding the number of seats and training opportunities at NOSM University.
But Horwath said the province also needs to do more to attract health-care workers -- and their families -- to live in northern Ontario by bolstering offerings in areas ranging from schools to artistic and recreational opportunities.
"We have to make sure that northern communities are places where doctors want to bring their spouses and their families, and so making sure that those communities have the offerings that will attract people to set down roots there is also a big part of our commitment," she said during an interview in Mississauga, Ont.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said his party would increase the number of spaces available at NOSM University and hire 100,000 new health-care workers across the province, including doctors and nurses, over six years.
Del Duca added that anybody who would like to pursue their university studies in health-care and is prepared to practise in underserved, remote and rural communities, including in the north, won't have to pay any tuition if his party is elected.
"We're going to make it that much easier for you if you're prepared to go and work in those communities that need the help," he said Saturday during a campaign stop in Toronto's west end.
"That is very clear, targeted support that will go ... right at the heart of the challenge that we're facing."
The Progressive Conservatives, who are seeking re-election, introduced a plan before the campaign to invest $142 million to support nurses' tuition reimbursements in exchange for service in underserved communities across Ontario and train more doctors through the expansion of medical education spaces, with 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions proposed over the next five years.
The Tories also said they would make it easier and quicker for health workers with foreign credentials to begin practising in Ontario by reducing barriers to registering with and being recognized by health regulatory colleges.
"(Party Leader) Doug Ford is getting it done by adding more nurses, doctors, and personal support workers, building Ontario with much-needed hospitals and longΓÇÉterm care beds, and supporting seniors so they can receive care and stay in the comfort of their own homes longer," the party said in a statement Saturday.
The Green Party, meanwhile, said it would double the Northern and Rural Recruitment and Retention Initiative and the Northern Physicians Retention Initiative to recruit 230 doctors and specialists in northern communities and expand the roles and scope of nurse practitioners as primary health care providers.
Among other promises, the Greens also said they would support expanded virtual care options for primary care providers and improve the availability of supports and services in French and Indigenous languages.
LeBeau said the Red Lake community "continues to be at risk" and now is the time for action.
"There will need to be some longer term solutions like increased spots in medical schools, increased residency spots, as well as some support for shorter term solutions like physician extenders, whether that's physician assistants or a nurse practitioner," she added.
"We can't, we don't have time to wait until the system catches up and educates enough physicians."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2022.
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Saanich police will hold another update on a deadly shooting that took place on Tuesday afternoon, leaving two suspects dead and six officers with gunshot wounds.
The Royal Canadian Navy says it has relieved the commanding officer of a warship in the Pacific Fleet.
Two of Canada's largest airlines announced steps this week to cope with delays, cancellations and service issues. Head to CTVNews.ca to read about the changes announced by Air Canada and WestJet.
Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre joined the final leg of a march led by a Canadian soldier charged for speaking out against COVID-19 vaccine requirements that has sparked promises -- and fears -- of a new wave of protests in the capital.
Ottawa protest organizer Tamara Lich will spend at least five more nights in custody in Ottawa after she was arrested in Alberta for allegedly breaching bail conditions.
The Conservative Party of Canada says approximately 675,000 members will be eligible to vote in this year's leadership race.
Researchers examining the threat of emerging COVID-19 strains predict Omicron BA.5 will account for nearly 70 per cent of cases in much of the country by Canada Day.
The Supreme Court of Canada says the expanded rules to further prevent a sexual assault complainant's past from being used against them in a trial are 'constitutional in their entirety.'
As stocks continue to slump, it can be easy to let your emotions take over if you've got money invested in the market. But experts agree that there's no need to panic if you're invested in the right type of portfolio with the right level of risk.
Consumer rights advocates are demanding Air Canada provide compensation to many of the hundreds of thousands of passengers whose summer flights it cancelled.
Organizers of a Montreal Caribbean festival are looking for clarity from police as to why a large group of officers interrupted their pre-festival barbecue on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day.
Two people have been reported dead and one person is in critical condition after a fire broke out in a home in Longueuil on Montreal's South Shore.
If you were one of the thousands of Londoners who bought gas on Thursday— you overpaid.
On any given day it’s not hard to find out what’s happening in the major, mainstream sports. But what about those sports that don’t have the same high profile, star players, or commercial sponsors as the likes of hockey, baseball, or golf?
Police continue to investigate after a fatal collision involving a cyclist claimed the life of a 17-year-old from Crediton.
The eviction deadline for people living at an encampment at Victoria and Weber Streets in Kitchener has come and gone, but residents of the property say they’re not moving.
A miscommunication involving a COVID-19 booster shot has left a Kitchener woman concerned for her 86-year-old mother.
The news comes just two days after the City launched a naming contest for the young bird, which it said was the first offspring of Victoria Park swans, Otis and Ophelia.
With Health Canada's permission, street drugs can now be consumed inside Safe Health Site Timmins.
Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services is helping seniors protect themselves against fire. The Assisting Seniors Awareness Program or Project ASAP is focussed on those 65 or older, and still living independently.
While the main suspect still hasn’t been caught, two people have been charged in connection with a murder that took place June 24 on Manitoulin Island.
Police officers in cruisers, on foot patrol and on bicycles are patrolling the Parliamentary Precinct, the ByWard Market and the so-called "motor vehicle control zone", as the city prepares for Canada's 155th birthday celebrations and possible protests.
Canadian Forces veteran James Topp marched through Ottawa on Thursday on the final leg of his cross-country march, and was joined by Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre for part of the walk.
Mayor Jim Watson also faced questions about a private WhatsApp chat with senior staff and members of his office, and the fact there were no city committee meetings for councillors to ask questions and receive information during the trial-running period.
Vaccine Mandates are slowly being phased out of many large workplaces. Some never had them, but others, including the City of Windsor, are sticking with them.
Despite the City of Windsor prohibiting the use of fireworks on most days of the year, Walkerville resident Jordan Whelan says his family has been disturbed by the sounds of loud pops multiple times a day for the past six months.
Dozens of people gathered in downtown Barrie on Thursday evening to denounce the United States Supreme court's decision to overturn the country's constitutional protection for abortion rights.
A Barrie woman who encountered a man posing as a cop at an accident scene is grateful she followed her instincts and refused to get into his car when he offered.
Friday marks the return of restriction-free Canada Day festivities across the region, with a series of closures to celebrate the nation's birthday.
The spouse of the gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting will testify mid-July before a public inquiry, but she won't face direct questions from lawyers representing victims' families.
As Claire Mahaney-Lion dropped her son off at school this morning, she questioned the reasons behind scheduling a school day that would last fewer than two hours.
Saint John is having its dog day. The host city of the 2022 Memorial Cup is celebrating after the Saint John Sea Dogs bested the Hamilton Bulldogs 6-3 in front of a capacity crowd during Wednesday's championship game at TD Station.
A piece of public art that was removed and put into storage after burning a hole through a spectator’s jacket has been reinstalled in a new location.
A southeast Calgary bank was evacuated Thursday afternoon, to allow hazardous materials crews to investigate a strange incident.
Emergency crews are on the scene of a fatal crash that took place late Thursday afternoon.
A crash involving a Transit bus that appears to have smashed into a home has shut down a road near Osborne Village.
Security measures are expected to be beefed up at two Winnipeg locations Friday when Canada Day events get underway.
AMC working to remove Arlen Dumas after probe found his conduct amounted to 'workplace sexual harassment'
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is working to remove Arlen Dumas as Grand Chief of the organization.
After dog died on B.C.-bound flight, owner says airline offered compensation based on 'cargo weight'
Nearly two years after her beloved dog died on a flight to B.C., a Metro Vancouver woman says she’s still waiting for justice for her pet.
A B.C. father who printed off a blog post and submitted it to court in a bid to prevent his children's mother from vaccinating them against COVID-19 has lost the dispute, in part because the judge found his evidence inadmissible.
The number of people with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals remained at 273 on Thursday, still slightly above the lowest total seen in 2022 so far.
An often-vandalized memorial featuring the face of former MP Frank Oliver will no longer be displayed in front of Edmonton's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.
A damning new report from Alberta's auditor general finds government ministries failed to include understandable, relevant and comparable data on COVID-19 in year-end reporting.
A man is facing multiple charges in connection with a rash of arsons in the Alberta Avenue area, and police are calling him a key suspect in a complex investigation.