Ontario increases hospital funding by $90M to address overcrowding

The Ontario government says it will be spending $90 million to fund hundreds of hospital beds across the province ahead of flu season.

Premier Doug Ford says the funds will support 1,100 hospital beds in total

The Ontario government announced on Wednesday that it will spend $90 million to pay for hundreds of hospital beds as flu season approaches. (CBC)

Ontario will spend $90 million this year to fund hundreds of hospital beds ahead of flu season, a measure the province's health minister said will help address the issue of so-called hallway medicine.

Christine Elliott said the funding will help Ontario's hospital system deal with overcrowding that has resulted in patients being treated in hallways and other unsuitable spaces.

The government will fund 1,100 hospital beds in total — including more than 640 new beds.

"It's unacceptable to see our loved ones treated in hallways and in storage rooms in our hospitals," Elliott said. "It's no way to treat our loved ones."

The Progressive Conservative government also said it will continue an expansion of the province's long-term care beds planned by the previous Liberal regime, adding 6,000 new beds as part of a five-year plan to build capacity.

"These are meaningful early actions we are taking to end hallway health care," Elliott said.

Premier Doug Ford said the additional beds mark just the first step in addressing the long-term needs of the health care system.

"With an aging population, time is of the essence," he said. "That's why I've asked Minister Elliott to focus on building a strong, vibrant and sustainable health care sector that puts the needs of Ontario's patients first."

In October last year, the previous Liberal government gave hospitals an additional $100 million before flu season to create more hospital beds.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Liberal commitment, and the latest spending by Ford's Progressive Conservatives, falls far short of the $300 million she said is needed to help address hospital overcrowding.

"This is not going to affect in any way the hallway medicine that is being experienced by people in our province," she said.