Ontario NDP leader says it's 'shocking' there's no funding for 89 hospital beds in Windsor

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath pointed to already overworked Windsor hospital staff who are struggling with crowded wards because of a shortage of funding, and promised change is she was elected premier.

Hospitals in Windsor have been operating at 100-103% capacity

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in Windsor Friday to talk about overcrowding and underfunding of the area's hospitals. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath says Windsor hospitals are struggling with overcrowding while 89 beds sit empty at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

Horwath was in Windsor Friday and expressed concern about packed wards at area hospitals because of a shortage of funding and staff.

"It's shocking actually when you think about the stress that our hospitals are under, the overcrowding that's happening … to know there are some 89 beds here that could be utilized to take the pressure off," said Horwath, whose visit comes just months before the provincial election.

She added hospitals in Windsor are coming off their "busiest winter ever," operating at 100-103 per cent capacity for weeks, causing surgeries to be cancelled, long ER wait times and ambulance delays.

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky joined Horwath, along with other area NDP members of provincial parliament, Percy Hatfield and Taras Natyshak.

Horwath was joined by area NDP MPPs Lisa Gretzky, Percy Hatfield and Taras Natyshak. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

She said those 89 beds are ready for use, if only the government could supply $6 million to $8 million in funding.

"All they need to do is turn on the lights, turn on the equipment, and have the staff in place," Gretzky explained.

Without enough beds, the MPP said people are waiting in emergency departments for hours, before being sent home.

Beds for geriatric patients who have complex mental health needs for conditions including dementia are especially needed, Gretzky added.

Horwath also pledged that if she's elected she will improve on the Liberal's pharmacare plan that supplies free prescription drugs for people under the age of 25.

"Whether you're 23, whether you're 35, whether you're 62, you should not be going to your doctor, getting a prescription … and putting it in your pocket because you simply can't afford to fill the prescription."