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Ontario Nurses Association calls on Ford to release full costed platform

The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) represents more than 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals and about 18,000 other student affiliates across the province.

In response, the Tories said the party has committed to helping 'hard working nurses'

PC Leader Doug Ford has denied breaking any promise of releasing a fully costed platform because he said it currently contains dollar figures beside each item. (Andrew Ryan/Canadian Press)

The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is calling on PC leader Doug Ford to release comprehensive financial details that it says were lacking in his costed platform unveiled earlier this week.

The association represents more than 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals and about 18,000 other student affiliates across the province.

ONA president Vicki McKenna published an open letter to the Tory leader Thursday, calling on his party to put out a fully costed platform on health care including a further commitment to the dollars poured into it.

"Ontario nurses feel we can no longer stay silent about the [party's] lack of a full health care platform and your proposal to find 'efficiencies' in government spending," she wrote.

"We don't need a further hit to health care. What we need is a stabilization to health care," she told CBC.

The PC party published an online list of promises Tuesday with some figures attached but no numbers that indicate the bottom line deficit. Ford has denied breaking any promise of releasing a fully costed platform because he said it currently contains dollar figures beside each item.

Concerns over efficiencies

In his platform, Ford has committed to several health care promises including the addition of 30,000 new long-term care beds. But McKenna is concerned that finding the 'efficiencies' the party is campaigning on will result in big cuts to health care spending.

"That's going to hurt us. We know that. We know that's going to mean cuts … We know that will hurt our patients. We know that will hurt Ontarians and we don't believe it's right," she said.  "We don't need a further hit to health care. What we need is a stabilization to health care."

The London Health Sciences Centre's Victoria Hospital and Children's Hospital in London, Ont. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

McKenna, who's also a registered nurse at the London Health Sciences Centre, is familiar with cuts to health care. The southwestern Ontario city's health care system has previously generated debate over staffing shortages and long hospital wait and treatment times.

At a campaign stop Thursday, Ford reiterated that 'efficiencies' would not mean job cuts.

PCs respond to open letter 

McKenna said the non-partisan group has also reached out to the NDP and Liberal parties over similar concerns and received responses of support from both. She said she hasn't heard back from the Tories.

A party representative responded to the open letter after a request from CBC and reiterated Ford's health care commitments.

"The Ontario PCs are committed to working with our front-line health care professionals, not against them like the Liberals. We will listen to front-line medical professionals, including our hard-working nurses … Our message to our hard-working nurses is that change is coming and help is on the way," the email said.

It also outlined a $1.9 billion funding promise for mental health.