Thursday’s election is a chance to have a say in health care

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Ontario’s health care system needs to change to improve care and make hospitals sustainable, local officials say — and voters in Thursday’s election can influence those changes.

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The current Progressive Conservative government recently invested millions of dollars in Quinte Health Care. This includes increasing base funding for the hospital corporation and providing various one-time investments.

Yet critics say the government has made mistakes in its handling of the pandemic and has yet to provide enough support to hospitals and other sectors, including home care and public health units.

QHC board chair Nancy Evans said the board is grateful for recent provincial funding, but the government still needs to address the needs of rural and mid-sized hospitals.

Evans said QHC officials would raise this “key point” with the next government “on an ongoing basis”.

“COVID recovery is unfolding differently in different parts of the province,” she added. “That must also be taken into account.”

Evans predicted that health care will remain a top provincial priority regardless of the election outcome.

Vice President of People and Strategy Susan Rowe said the latest provincial funding resulted in a permanent increase of 48 beds in the number of medical beds in the base budget. The total number of beds fluctuates, partly due to seasonal factors, QHC’s board said last week.

“It is very encouraging that the government has adapted our medicine beds to suit the needs of our population,” Rowe said.

However, she added, QHC is still working beyond its funding capacity. QHC medical units were working 28% above capacity on Tuesday morning, communications director Catherine Walker said.

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The concern often expressed by staff and board members is that some of the government support has come from one-time pandemic-specific investments, but the increased demand for hospital care has not been limited to COVID care. -19.

“The challenges we face today, although they have been overcome by the pandemic, are challenges that have taken many years, if not decades, to develop,” Rowe said.

“It will take a long time and a very focused effort” to change these systemic issues, she said. This effort will need to include hospitals, all levels of government and other health organizations, Rowe said.

Chief of Staff Dr Colin MacPherson said COVID-19 “has revealed many cracks and problems, but it has also revealed many strengths and opportunities”.

MacPherson said organizations have worked together in many ways to respond to the pandemic. This cooperation can help inspire ways to “rethink the system,” he said.

Local statistics exceed averages

Just before the official start of the election campaign, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health staff issued a “Introduction to Elections” booklet titled “Make Health Matter”.

A press release from the health unit encouraged people to make informed decisions as they prepare to vote.

The introduction notes that some of Hastings and Prince Edward counties do worse, as a region, than the Ontario average in terms of mental health, poverty, and alcohol and alcohol use. opioids.

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“Provincial decisions related to these issues can and will have a broad impact on the occurrence and cost of preventable illness and death – both locally and across the province,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ethan Toumishey. , in the press release.

Health unit officials suggest the province raise minimum wage and welfare benefits (unemployment and disability) to a living wage rate, estimated locally at $17.95 an hour.

They recommend more funding for mental health services, including those for young people and “problematic substance use”, as well as decent wages, better access to health care providers and appropriate and affordable housing for improve mental health.

The brochure says Ontario should establish a comprehensive strategy to address alcohol problems independently of the alcohol industry, providing more risk education, improved monitoring and documentation of outcomes, and policies to minimize harm to health and society.

“Alcohol is a major but preventable cause of death, disease and disability in Ontario,” reads the brochure. He adds that “the erosion of protective policies has and will continue to increase alcohol-related harms and costs” in a province that was once a leader in alcohol policy.

Opioid-related deaths in Ontario, meanwhile, jumped 79% between February 2020 and December of the same year.

Health unit staff are calling for the decriminalization of simple possession of opioids while funding supervised consumption sites, better access to treatment, naloxone and other harm reduction programs.

Quinte Health Care’s MacPherson predicted “an exciting few years” ahead during the expected healthcare system recovery and changes resulting from the pandemic. Change is needed, he said.

“It would be a shame to act as if nothing had happened,” he said.

“I really don’t think the status quo is an option.”

Advance votes can be cast at the offices of the returning officers until 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday. To learn more about the election, visit elections.on.cacall 1-888-668-8683 or, for TTY, 1-888-292-2312.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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