Ontario Votes: Party leaders promise change on healthcare

Ontario’s three main party leaders have all been talking about changing the way healthcare is delivered without having much in common, except promises to help seniors more and safeguard nursing jobs.
Party leaders have all promised big changes on the healthcare front, but can they deliver? 2:56

Ontario’s three main party leaders have been promoting different plans for changing the way healthcare is delivered, with all of them focusing on improved care for seniors.

Here are some platform highlights:

Tories target health bureaucrats

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak says he envisions a patient-centred healthcare system.

He argues care should be decided by "the people who deliver the healthcare” not bureaucratic agencies, or as he puts it, those with “well-paid managerial jobs.”

Hudak wants to cut Liberal-created Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) to free up money for frontline services. The cuts would also serve to reduce public service jobs, a key part of his party platform.

During campaign stops this month in Woodstock and Etobicoke, he said bureaucrats working at the integration networks “don’t spend a single minute with patients.”

“Go into your local LHIN and ask them to check your blood pressure,” he said in Woodstock on May 20.

“Tell them you have a sore throat or a bad back and see what they say. They're health bureaucrats who spend time going from the inbox paper to the outbox."

The networks plan how to spend local health dollars and determine what services are required.

Both the PC and NDP campaigns said they would scrap Ontario's 14 LHINs, but the current NDP platform makes no mention of doing away with them.

The Progressive Conservatives would also expand long-term care availability and at-home healthcare to help keep seniors healthy and in their homes.

The party also says it would encourage choice and competition in the public health system — everything from choice of home-care providers to competition in hospital cafeterias.

Some of the savings would be directed at treating people with chronic and mental health illnesses.

The Tory leader says healthcare is a growing sector, so he expects more nursing jobs in the future.

NDP wants to reduce wait times

NDP leader Andrea Horwath vows to cut waiting times in ER rooms by half in her first term. That would involve hiring and training 250 more nurse practitioners to staff emergency wards.

A nurse practitioner can assess a patient, order tests and write certain prescriptions, performing many duties normally carried out by a doctor.

Horwath says an NDP government would open 50 new 24-hour family health clinics to help people without a regular family doctor and reduce the pressure on emergency rooms.

The NDP also promises to eliminate wait lists for home care and long-term care beds.

"We will make good on the five-day home-care wait time guarantee,” Horwath said.

“We will increase the number of long-term care beds by 1,400 initially. These are the kinds of things that will make a difference for the wait times in the ERs for Ontario."

“We will also make sure that we are increasing the number of personal support hours that people receive," she said.

Liberals push 'comprehensive' plan

A key Liberal promise would see long-term spending on health care, with $11.4 billion spent on expanding and improving hospitals over a decade.

The Liberals say they would also expand home, community and supported home care for 46,000 more seniors.

They say they would increase the minimum wage for 34,000 personal support workers in the public home care sector by $4 an hour by the spring of 2016, pushing it to $16.50 an hour.

They promise to eliminate service wait lists for 21,000 people with developmental disabilities. Their budget set aside an additional $5 million for children's treatment centres that help children with special needs.

Other promises would see 70,000 more children in low-income families get access to dentistry. Up to half a million children in such families could receive expanded health benefits such as prescription drugs, vision care and mental health services.

Wynne has called her healthcare platform “a very comprehensive plan looking at all the different aspects of society.” She says the Liberals would implement strategies to create nursing jobs and make it easier for graduates to get nursing jobs.

“We hired 4,000 more nurses last year alone. That's 20,500 more nurses since 2003," she said in Toronto on May 16 during a stop at the West Park Healthcare Centre.


  • This story has been edited from a previous version to remove numbers that were taken in error from the Progressive Conservatives' 2011 platform.
    May 27, 2014 10:02 AM ET