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Union president warns of bed and staff cuts coming to North Bay hospital

Bed cuts and staff layoffs

That’s what the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions says lies in wait for the North Bay Regional Health Centre.

OCHU President Michael Hurley was in North Bay Monday afternoon releasing a one year report on how much healthcare has changed after one year under the Ford government.

“The government can say quite honestly it’s increased the (health) budget,” Hurley said.

“But the sad truth is they haven’t increased it enough to meet the cost of delivering services.”

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Hurley says the one percent increase the Tories announced in the spring budget is still three percent short of what hospitals need to operate on.

He says making matters worse is the annual three percent shortfall will eventually became a 15 percent cut by 2023-24.

In terms of real cuts, shortchanging the North Bay Regional Health Centre by that much means it will have to cut 15 beds and 82 employees by 2024.

However, Hurley also points out the equivalent cuts work out to 50 beds gone and 268 layoffs because over that time the population will continue to age and there will be a growing demand for hospital services.

And Hurley isn’t optimistic beyond 2024.

He says that’s because Premier Doug Ford is “vague beyond this date” leaving the hospital council president less than confident that healthcare will improve.

Hurley says what makes these numbers tougher for Northerners is they already have a strike or two against them because there are higher incidences of cancer and addictions among Northern Ontario residents, more people live in poverty, the Indigenous population has poor housing and poor drinking water quality not to mention many people just don’t have a family doctor.

Hurley says when you compare populations of the north to other centres in Southern Ontario, northerners are at a disadvantage.

“There are unique health care needs and you need more services so you’ll be hit hard here by the collapse of capacity,” Hurley said.

Hurley also points out the government is paying little attention to people with mental health and addictions problems.

Also left wanting is the ongoing need for more long-term care beds.

He says although the Progressive Conservative government has announced 30,000 long-term care beds, that’s still four thousand short just to meet today’s needs.

Hurley adds long-term care facilities will face even more pressures in the future because the government has been pushing patients with complex medical conditions into long-term care homes.

“It’s kind of inevitable that as the population over 75, 85 and 90 grows dramatically as it will as the baby boomers generation ages out, there will be all kinds of pressures and competitions for spaces in hospitals and long-term care,” Hurley said.

“What the government has announced so far wouldn’t even clear today’s waiting list let alone people who will require long-term care on a go forward basis.”

Hurley says labour will intensify its campaign with the Ford government over the fall, winter and spring to put more money into healthy.

He says compared to the former Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne, which OHCU also had issued with, Wynne put more money into health than Premier Doug Ford has done to date.

He says the Tories promised to end hallway medicine, but so far Hurley and his colleagues haven’t seen any evidence of this.



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