All Posts By

Steph Paquette

Access To Dental Care
Accès aux soins dentaires

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.”

Unfair Vaccine Distribution
Distribution inéquitable des vaccins

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?”

For-Profit Clinics
Cliniques à but lucratif

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.

Ambulance Delays the New Normal
Les délais des ambulances, la nouvelle norme

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.

For-Profit Nursing Agencies
Agences de soins infirmiers à but lucratif

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.

Ontario’s Dependence on For-Profit Nursing Agencies
La dépendance de l’Ontario envers les agences de soins infirmiers à but lucratif

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.

Rare Disease Strategy
Stratégie sur les maladies rares

October 19, 2023

Ontario Needs a Rare Disease Strategy

During question period, France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, asked the Minister of Health, about the results of the pan-Canadian health minister’s meeting in PEI last week.

“Last week, Health Ministers from across Canada met in Prince Edward Island. I, like many Ontarians, am quite anxious to find out what kind of progress was made for people suffering from rare diseases. Can the minister share with us the decisions that were made?“

In March of 2023, the federal government announced an investment of up to $1.5 billion over three years in support of the first-ever National Strategy for Rare Diseases to help increase access to, and affordability of, promising and effective treatments for rare diseases, to improve the health of patients across Canada.

“Members from Ontario’s life sciences sector are at Queen’s Park. We all know that the federal government has budgeted $500 million for rare disease treatments for this year. Can the Minister tell us about Ontario’s rare disease strategy and how much of the $500 million in federal money will be coming to help Ontarians gain access to life-saving rare-disease treatments?”

Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, did not mention any specific strategy to access the federal money.

Access To Primary Care
L’accès aux soins de santé primaires

October 18, 2023

Patients need access to primary care

This morning, France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt and Health Critic for the Official Opposition rose in the legislature to recognize the value and importance of Ontario’s primary care providers.

“This is Community Health and Wellbeing Week in Ontario. It is a week to celebrate with the members of the Alliance for Healthier communities: Community Health Centres, Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations, Community Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics and the good work they do to keep Ontarians Healthy. There are 111 members of the Alliance who serve Ontarians in every corner of our province.

These not-for-profit agencies provide comprehensive primary care to people who often face barriers to access and health inequities. From health promotion, disease prevention, primary care to chronic disease management, from newborn and children’s programs to elderly person centers they do it all. They keep people healthy and out of emergency rooms which is good for their clients, decreases demand on our acute care system and saves money. A win-win.

I assure you my NDP colleagues and I will always stand for equitable access to health care for everyone in Ontario. That includes the 2.2 millions Ontarians who do not have access to primary care, they do not have a family physician or a nurse practitioner. The Ontario Medical Association was here two days ago asking the government to fund interdisciplinary primary care teams. We can do this speaker, the Ontario government needs to fund more Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, Community Family Health Teams, Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations and Community Health Centres. The sooner the better. ”

Shortchanging Healthcare
Le manque de soins de santé

October 5, 2023

Why is team Ford shortchanging healthcare?

This morning during question period, France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt, asked the Premier why his government continues to sit on money budgeted for health services?

” Speaker, yesterday the Financial Accountability Officer confirmed what we already knew: this government is starving our public health care system by spending $1 billion less then what was promised. Instead of strengthening our public health care system – and supporting people who are sick or injured and in need of care this government hides health care money in slush funds. Will the Premier listen to the people of Ontario telling him that their health care system matters, and they want him to keep his promise and spend the money on the care they need?“

“During the first 3 months of this year, this conservative government spent $1 billion less on health care than what they promised. While Emergency rooms continue to close, while 2 millions Ontarians do not have access to primary care while thousand of children are on wait list for surgeries. This government did not spend the money they had allocated to health care. What will it take for this government to go from word to action, stop sitting on the money allocated to health care and get people the care they need?”

Based on information provided to the FAO, the government spent $2.6 billion less than the province had planned to spend during the first quarter of 2023-24. By sector, lower-than-planned spending was led by health.