NDP Leader Andrea Horwath blasts health care in Windsor

Long waits for hospital procedures and decreasing quality of care from staff were some of the issues Ontario's NDP leader Andrea Horwath addressed during her stop in Windsor on Sunday.

'I've heard that nurses end up in tears sometimes after their shifts because they're so frustrated'

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, centre, and local NDP MPPs Lisa Gretzky and Percy Hatfield, criticized the Liberal health-care plant Sunday in Windsor. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Long waits for hospital procedures and decreasing quality of care from staff, all due to health-care cuts, were some of the issues Ontario's NDP leader Andrea Horwath addressed during her stop in Windsor on Sunday.

She claimed the provincial Liberal government is forcing hospitals to make decisions based on money, which affects the ability of quality care nurses can provide.

"I've heard that nurses end up in tears sometimes after their shifts because they're so frustrated with the inability to provide the kind of quality care they should be providing," Horwath said.

Horwath said visiting hospitals across the province help put a face to the numbers.

"Actually talking to nurses and talking to patients and getting a sense of the humanity — or the inhumanity — of what's happening across the province is what's very valuable to me," says Horwath, "Because numbers are one thing but it's real people that are being impacted."

She said she has talked to nursing students who worry about getting full-time work in the province. Horwath said she hears nurses are going to work in hospitals across the border. She said she sympathizes with their uncertain future in Ontario.

"What I'd like to say, is most Ontarians value you very much and we would want for you to work here in Ontario, with our loved ones and with ourselves, as we need your services in healthcare," Horwath said. "We don't want you to go across the border, but certainly we understand if you're put in a desperate position by the provincial government here in Ontario that you're left with no choices. 

'An erosion of patient care'

The Ontario Nurses Association said right now is a hard time to be a nurse.

"We're losing highly-skilled and highly-trained nurses," Sue Sommerdyk, bargaining union president for the ONA, said.

She represents 1,515 registered nurses and nurse practitioners.

"We're seeing an erosion of patient care," Sommerdyk said "We're seeing a time where we should be seeing support and we're getting cuts. It's just a terrible time for nurses."

Horwath said the Ontario New Democrats are ramping up their efforts to stop the cuts and have called for a complete moratorium on firing of nurses.

"Basically the bottom line is you have to fund hospitals, you have to keep up with inflation, as well as population pressures and that has to happen each and every year," Horwath said "And that should be the bare minimum; the bare minimum standard to stop the cuts and start rebuilding our healthcare. Anything less is unacceptable."

Ontario Minister of Health Eric Hoskins claimed on Twitter on Friday that Ontario's investments in healthcare "have helped ensure there is a stable nursing workforce now and in the future."

He tweeted that Ontario has added 11,063 nurses in Ontario since 2003 and 2,245 total nurses last year alone.

"Ontario's nurses are the backbone of our health care system," he tweeted last week, which happened to be Nurses Week.