December 5, 2023
More and more Emergency Room closures under this conservative government
This morning during question period, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Minister of Health Sylvia Jones about the unprecedented number of Emergency Room closures the Ontario Health Coalition could identify so far in 2023.
” The Ontario Health Coalition was able to identify 1199 vital hospital services closures, 868 ER closures, 316 urgent care closures, 11 obstetrics closures, the list goes on, labour and delivery closures, ICU closures, hospital out-patients lab closures. Every single one of these closures put patient health and life at risk.
The Minister must be very proud, her plan to create a crisis in our health care system is working perfectly. How many more private clinics will the minister be able to fund given this level of crisis?”
The recently closed Minden Emergency Room is becoming a Community Nursing Clinic in Partnership with SE Health and ParaMed Home Health Care. Former Minister of Health Christine Elliott sits on the board at SE Health while ParaMed Home Health is a subsidiary Extendicare Inc.
November 28, 2023
Private Hospitals get preferential treatment with the Conservative Government
This morning during question period, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Premier Ford about the province’s use of public funds to help expand private hospitals.
“Speaker why is Ontario paying 330 % more for surgeries in for profit clinics than in public hospitals.” The member from Eglington Lawrence stated, “These centres have higher costs because they’re purchasing equipment.” Don Mills Surgical Unit, a for profit hospital, expanded from 3 to 6 operating rooms and 7 recovery bays, while our public hospital operating rooms sit dark and empty and against the Private Hospitals Act that forbids expanding for-profit hospitals. Why are you expanding private hospitals where we pay more for less?”
After a CBC report on fees paid to private clinics, the Ontario Health Coalition shared more research on the expansion of the Don Mills Surgical Unit.
“Speaker, the previous Minister of Health, is now a lobbyist for Clearpoint, the corporation that owns Don Mills Surgical Unit. The Ontario’s Members’ Integrity Act prohibits former Cabinet Ministers from ever making representations to the provincial government. Don Mills received a 278% funding increase when Christine Elliott was Minister of Health. Does the Premier support the fact that his former Minister of Health is lobbying for preferential treatment for Don Mills?”
On November 7 2023, Premier Ford’s former Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott registered to lobby on behalf of Clearpoint Health Network Inc, a subsidiary of Kensington Capital Partners Limited.
November 17, 2023
Patients need access to dental care
France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt and Health Critic for the Official Opposition rose in the legislature to share the challenges Ontarians are facing accessing dental services in Ontario.
“Speaker, Ian Watson from my riding is a cancer survivor, living with the long-term side effects of radiation treatment for lymphoma; which means frequent dental problems and procedures. Ian was notified earlier this year that he’s no longer eligible for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Plan because his 2022 income exceeded the $22,200 Net Income threshold.
He is not the only one, Gail is $3 over, her net income is 22,203 so she no longer qualifies but she needs dental services and can not afford to pay. Unlike the Seniors Co-Payment Program which is based a yearly income after deductions the dental plan is based on income before deductions. Ian is asking why this provincial government applies a different interpretation of net income for one program versus another. But what thousands of seniors want to know is why is this government making it so difficult for seniors to access basic dental care. Why is the eligibility income set so low.
Your mouth is part of your body, if your mouth is sick and you don’t have private coverage you will end up at one of our province’s overcrowded emergency rooms in pain or worse. The government of Ontario has left way too many patients in pain. I suppose we’ll need to wait for the federal government to clean up this government mess.”
November 16, 2023
Team Ford Playing Favorites with Vaccine Distribution
This morning during question period, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Premier Ford about the province’s decision to allow Shoppers Drug Mart to operate as a vaccine distributor for the province.
“Last week two Toronto pharmacies declared publicly that they are no longer administering vaccines due to major problems with the province’s new vaccine distributor. Who is the new distributor Speaker? Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws’ chain of pharmacies. The pharmacists in question reported receiving only 10% of their orders, having to cancel days of prebooked appointments, a real headache. Does the Premier see a conflict of interest in having Shoppers Drug Mart responsible for distributing vaccines to their competitors?”
It was widely reported last week that Toronto Pharmasave pharmacists were ending vaccination programs at two locations due to supply issues.
“Complaints against Shopper Drug Mart handling of the vaccine distribution are coming from every part of the province, even from Shopper Drug Mart pharmacy owners. A pharmacist in Northern Ontario told me that last year she was alone, so she only administered a limited amount of vaccines. This year she was able to recruit 3 pharmacists to come and help her, she got vaccine clinics booked solid for weeks on end but no vaccine as the distributor will only give her a percentage of what she used last year. When it comes to high dose flu vaccines the situation is even worse.
Speaker, Public Health handled vaccine distribution in Ontario for decades with no issues. They knew and listened to local providers. They were reliable. Does the Premier understand that handing the distribution of vaccines over to his friends is having drastic consequences on the health of Ontarians?”
November 15, 2023
Paying more for less in for-profit clinics
This morning during question period, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Premier Ford about the high rates Ontario is paying private clinics for procedures that are regularly done in hospitals.
” Yesterday CBC reported that privately-owned Don Mills Surgical Unit was paid rates “noticeably” higher than what the province provides public hospitals for the same procedures. This government paid $1200 for cataract surgeries to for profit clinics versus $500 for the same surgery in a public hospital. Even worse, the Ford government paid $4000 for a meniscectomy in a for profit clinic, versus $1200 to our public hospitals.
Can the Premier explain why his government is willing to pay private for-profit clinics 240% to 333% more than what he pays our public hospitals for the same procedure?”
Ontario Health payments to the Don Mills Surgical Unit ltd. increased from $1.32 million in 2019 to $5.27 million in 2022 according to documents released after a freedom of information request.
“Unlike public hospitals, which provide the care we require based on our needs, the number one goal of private clinics is to make money. These clinics only accept easy clients, sending the riskier, more complex, or “expensive” patients to public hospitals, yet public hospitals have better outcomes.
This government is making sure that Centric Health Corporation makes a lot of money off the backs of sick people at the expense of taxpayers. Centric Health Corporation is a division of Kensington Capital Partners whose stated goal is, and I quote: “to create top-performing investment solutions for our investors”.
Can the Premier explain why his government is paying 2 to 3 times the hospital price to a private for-profit clinic whose goal is to create not quality, care but top-performing investment solutions to their investors?”
According to their website Kensington Private Equity Fund acquired the surgical division of Centric Health Corporation and created a new entity called Clearpoint Health Network Inc.. It was announced last week that former health minister Christine Elliott has registered to lobby the Ford government on behalf of Clearpoint.
November 2, 2023
Ambulance Delays the New Normal in Doug Ford’s Ontario
During question period, France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, about what long waits for emergency medical services will mean for patient care.
“Minister on Monday Toronto Paramedics Union issued a code red to indicate that no ambulance was available to respond to emergency calls. That was the second code red issued in October.
During that period, a 98-year-old woman waited unconscious for over 28 minutes; an ambulance ended up being dispatched from Peel region. Can the Minister tell us if an unconscious elderly woman waiting 28-minutes for an ambulance is quality care?”
Toronto EMS reported two code red events during the month of October.
“Yesterday Kitchener Waterloo faced a paramedic “code red” when 10 ambulances were waiting at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener to off-load their patients. Speaker some patients had to wait 8 hours for an ambulance from the surrounding region to come and help. Minister, is this the level of care the good people of Kitchener can expect from Doug Ford’s Ontario?”
In July, the CBC reported that the Ontario government does have data on the number of hours paramedics spend waiting in ER to transfer patients but won’t disclose it.
October 31, 2023
Let’s stop the for-profit nursing agency gravy train
This morning in the legislature, NDP Health Critic France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, questioned Minister of Health Sylvia Jones regarding the growing influence of for-profit nursing agencies in Ontario’s health Care system and what is being done to protect patient care.
“This morning in the media studio, Erin Ariss, the President of the Ontario Nurses Association stated, and I quote : Our publicly funded hospitals and long-term care homes are seeing their budgets drained by these greedy, for-profit nursing agency owners who bill obscene amounts of money.
Is the Minister of Health taking any action whatsoever, to stop private for-profit nursing agencies from making millions of dollars in profit at the expense of quality of patient care?”
MPP Gélinas and NDP Long-term Care Critic Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) were joined by Ontario Nursing Association President Erin Ariss and Dave Verch, Vice President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, for a press conference to discuss Gélinas’ bill the Healthcare Staffing Agencies Act 2023.
“Speaker, Dave Verch, Vice President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions was also present this morning, he stated and I quote: “agency staff are paid as much as 300 percent more than hospital staff which is contributing to a staffing crisis with stark consequences for patient care”
Will this government take action to ensure that health care dollars are paying for care, not lining the pockets of private nursing agencies executives?”
If passed, the Healthcare Staffing Agencies Act 2023 would direct every hospital and long-term care home in a municipality with a population of 8,000 or more to develop a plan to limit its spending on agencies. Agencies established after the Act comes into force will be not-for-profit and any agency which receives more than $400,000 in public money is under oversight by the Auditor General, the Patient Ombudsman, the Ontario Ombudsman and the Integrity Commissioner with all employees included on the Sunshine List. An agency is forbidden from paying its workers more than 10% above the existing rate in the hospital or long-term care home for the relevant profession. An agency is also forbidden from poaching employees from hospitals or long-term care homes.
October 23, 2023
Ontario’s dependence on for-profit nursing agencies a no-win situation
During question period, France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, asked the Minister of Health Sylvia Jones, what her government was doing to protect Ontario’s health Care system.
“Ontario is facing a health human resources crisis. Whether we look at emergency room closures, at the 2.2 million Ontarians who don’t have access to primary care, or the long waitlists for surgery. It is getting worse, not better. Does the Minister believe that nursing agencies are part of the solution to Ontario’s health human resources crisis?”
The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has sponsored a study to examine the exponential use of nursing agencies and the companies behind them. The hourly fee for on demand health professionals is reportedly two to three times higher than the staff hourly rate on top of agency “finder” fees for procuring and scheduling urgently needed health-care workers.
“Let me tell you speaker, what nursing agencies do to our health care system. They have exploded in every part of Ontario. In order to have quality care you need continuity of care, with nursing agencies there is no continuity, they affect quality of care. They poach health care professionals from our hospitals, from our health care system to go work in nursing agencies. They charge up to $300 an hour plus signing bonuses for a nurse who will get not even a third of that, who usually makes $39 an hour. What is this government doing about the multiple problems created throughout our health care system directly linked to nursing agencies?”
According to an arbitration decision from mid-summer the use of private nursing agencies to fill staffing gaps in Ontario hospitals has increased more that 400% since 2019.