The President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions is warning of severe cuts at the North Bay Regional Health Centre if Premier Doug Ford goes ahead with election promises to cut spending and taxes.
Michael Hurley says if the Tories move ahead with these policies, the North Bay hospital would see 37 of its beds close and up to 156 more employee lose their jobs.
Hurley says a government can’t remove billions of dollars from its overall budget and expect it won’t impact the healthcare system.
He says the North Bay hospital has seen years of underfunding and what it needs is a funding injection of 5.2 percent.
“Just funding them at their real cost would be an enormous relief to the system and it means the cuts would stop,” Hurley said to the North Bay media on Wednesday.
Hurley believes one area where cuts could occur at the health centre is moving services into the community, something that was done when the local psychiatric hospital was closed years ago.
“People were told then there would be community support,” he said.
“But in a real sense the supports don’t exist. People are left to be drugged and there’s no psycho-therapy. What kind of solution is that?”
Hurley says when Ontario saw hospital restructuring under the Mike Harris Tory government, it didn’t save money and turned out to be an expensive process.
Hurley is warning history could repeat itself.
He says the North Bay Regional Health Centre is a private-public partnership which should serve “as a beacon to everyone else”.
“These partnerships are 30 percent more expensive, they have fewer staff and fewer beds,” Hurley said.
“This is your nightmare.”
Hurley says not only does Ontario already spend less on hospital care than the rest of Canada, the North Bay hospital spends less than the Ontario average on healthcare.
Hurley says if there are more local cuts, the impact will be longer wait times and the quality of care will deteriorate.
The union president adds if the public wants to see Hallway Medicine end, then hospital administrators in Ontario have to show “courage and leadership” and tell the truth about the problems they’re having delivering healthcare services.