What are the party leaders' plans for health care in Ontario? This patient advocate wants to know

Around this time last year, Jamie-Lee Ball waited on a stretcher in a hospital hallway for five days. Now she's asking the party leaders how they'll make sure patients like her get the care they deserve.

Patient advocate Jamie-Lee Ball once waited on a stretcher in a hospital hallway for 5 days

In March 2017, Jamie-Lee Ball spent five days in a hallway of Brampton Civic Hospital on a stretcher with no pillow and just three thin curtains between her and a busy public area. (CBC News)

​Around this time last year, Jamie-Lee Ball was lying on a stretcher in the hallway of Brampton Civic Hospital's emergency department, waiting to be admitted to the hospital.

She was in extreme pain, and at one point collapsed on the floor and started screaming. But there were no beds for the 24-year-old who was suffering from internal bleeding after major abdominal surgery.

Ball wound up waiting on a stretcher in the hallway for five days.

Her experience made headlines, and since then, Ball has become an outspoken patient advocate who's among those calling for changes in Ontario's health care system to ensure patients like her don't fall through the cracks.

"It's not something that's going to happen immediately. It's going to take time," she says.

Ball now has one big question: How, exactly, will the province improve health care down the road?

 As part of CBC Toronto's ongoing health care series Prescription for Change, we brought that question to the party leaders on Monday — by sharing a message recorded for each of them by Ball.

"Ontario spends more than $50 billion on health care every year. That much money and it's not enough to prevent people from being hallway patients like myself," Ball says in the message.

"What is your step-by-step, tangible plan to provide all Ontarians the health care we deserve?" she asks.

Jamie-Lee Ball spent five days in the hallway of Brampton's Civic Hospital after going to the emergency room for severe abdominal pain. (Submitted by Jamie-Lee Ball)

Premier Kathleen Wynne

At Queen's Park, CBC Toronto met with Premier Kathleen Wynne following the Liberal government's speech from the throne, which touched on the party's goals to reduce hospital wait times, increase access to home care for seniors, and expand the OHIP+ program beyond children and youth. 

After hearing Ball's message, Wynne said hallway patients and overcrowding are just one concern. Substantial investments in mental health and home care are both needed as well, she added.

The Liberal leader shares her thoughts on what the province needs to do to improve health care. 1:03

"I'd be the first to acknowledge that although there is an enormous amount of money invested in health care, there is still more people need," she said, stressing that "investment, not cuts" is her party's stance on what's needed in Ontario.

But what that means in terms of dollar figures remains to be seen in the upcoming 2018 provincial budget, which is expected to include a deficit of roughly $8 billion.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath

Health care has been a hot-button issue for more than just the Liberals.

Over the weekend, the New Democratic Party promised to introduce "Canada's first universal Pharmacare plan" that would cover dental care and prescription drug costs should the party form a government following the June provincial election.

The NDP leader shares her party's stance on how they can improve health care in Ontario. 1:03

Speaking to CBC Toronto after hearing Ball's message, NDP leader Andrea Horwath said her party's plan tackles everything from "hallway medicine... to dental care." 

"The people of this province want to see a hospital system, and a health care system, that meets their needs when and where they need it," she said. "If that means it's going to cost a little more money, so be it."

PC leader Doug Ford

The media team for the recently-minted leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives told us he wasn't available to meet with CBC Toronto one-on-one on Monday.

But at a rally in Toronto Monday night, Doug Ford told the crowd that if he's elected premier, people won't be "stuck" waiting for a doctor. 

Doug Ford leaves a news conference after being named as the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives earlier this month. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Speaking to Ottawa Morning earlier this month, Ford also said he plans to "start driving lean systems within the health care system."

"We can deliver services, reduce wait times, [make] sure that patients are seen a lot quicker," he said.


About the Author

Lauren Pelley

Reporter

Lauren Pelley is a CBC reporter in Toronto covering city hall and municipal affairs. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca