Toronto

Ontario pledges $187M to ease hospital crowding next year

Five months after committing $100 million dollars to ease crowding in Ontario’s hospitals ahead of this winter’s flu season, Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced that another $187 million will be coming in the next fiscal year to continue to tackle the problem.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins says money will go towards adding beds, reducing wait times

Ten surgeries at Windsor Regional Hospital were postponed this week because of overcrowding — an issue Health Minister Eric Hoskins has vowed to tackle. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Five months after committing $100 million to ease crowding in Ontario's hospitals ahead of this winter's flu season, Health Minister Eric Hoskins announced that another $187 million will be coming in the next fiscal year to continue to tackle the problem.

The money will be spent on opening new beds, improving care, and shortening wait times, he said.

Last October's investment was enough to pay for 1,200 new hospital beds as well as some 600 "transitional care spaces" for patients who need assistance but don't require a hospital stay.

"It works out to the equivalent of opening six medium-size hospitals," Hoskins said on Friday. 

The funding was announced after an umbrella group representing the province's hospitals predicted a capacity crisis across Ontario unless urgent action was taken before the winter flu season.

Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Eric Hoskins says an investment of $187 million will go towards opening new beds and easing wait times ahead of next year's flu season. (CBC News)

Despite the cash infusion, crowding remains an issue this winter: in Windsor, an influx of influenza patients this week caused 19 surgeries to be postponed, with both campuses of Windsor Regional Hospital operating above or near capacity for the last two weeks.  

The Ontario Health Coalition also told CBC News last week that the flu isn't the only culprit in overcrowding, saying that all hospitals in cities that are bigger than 50,000 people are running at 100 per cent capacity or higher without the extra strain of a surge of influenza patients. 

It said the result of the crunch is increased infection rates, higher mortality rates, and increasing numbers of patients being parked in hallways where they receive substandard care. 

Dr. Howard Ovens, the chief medical strategy officer of the Sinai health system, tweeted his support for Hoskins' announcement, writing that the news would be a "much needed morale boost for staff coping with all the stress in the system right now." 

now