As a life-long resident of Brampton, I know what it feels like to live in a city that doesn’t get its fair share of public services. I know how scary it is when a loved one is sick or injured.
And I know it’s even scarier when that loved one is unable to access the health care they need to get better in the timely, efficient and dignified manner every Ontarian deserves.
Far too many of my constituents have had to face painfully long emergency room waits, overcrowded hospitals and hallway medicine – the unfortunate phenomenon that happens when patients are kept on gurneys in hospital corridors, sometimes for hours at a time, sometimes overnight – while awaiting care. On top of this, our region’s hospital staff are overworked.
While the Ford Conservatives continue to ignore the region’s escalating health care problems, Brampton residents suffer the very real consequences of having hospitals that are chronically underfunded by the province. In 2017-18, the Peel Memorial Urgent Care Centre received funding for only 6,250 visits, though more than 61,950 patients visited the hospital that year. That means over 55,000 visits went unfunded. And this year, the Centre expects the number of unfunded visits to climb to 67,750.
I was shocked to learn that 4,300 patients at Brampton Civic Hospital were forced to wait on hallway stretchers for up to 70 hours. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, this emergency state, dubbed “Code Gridlock,” was in effect at Brampton Civic Hospital for an alarming 114 days. Brampton families have suffered long enough. I am outraged by the total disregard the Ford Conservatives, and the Liberals before them, have shown for Peel region families. The Liberals and Kathleen Wynne let health care reach a level of crisis, freezing and cutting funding to hospitals and, since 2015, firing 1,600 nurses. The result was that wait times grew and hallway medicine became all too common.
Now, the Ford Conservatives are taking this situation from bad to worse. As Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath has said: “You can’t fix decades of cuts to hospital funding with even deeper cuts.” She’s right. It’s time to invest in Brampton families, and in the health care they deserve. That’s why the Ontario NDP will keep fighting for a much-needed third hospital in Brampton, as well as for an expedited expansion of Peel Memorial. It’s why our party has called on the Ford Conservatives to include necessary funding for a third Brampton hospital in its 2019-2020 budget.
In October, I held a press conference outside Brampton Civic Hospital with my fellow NDP MPPs in Brampton, Gurratan Singh (Brampton East) and Kevin Yarde (Brampton North). At the conference, we promised our constituents in Peel region that we won’t give up on the fight to end overcrowding, underfunding and unacceptable hallway medicine at our hospitals. When Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath introduced a motion in the Legislature calling on the Ford government to fund construction of a new hospital in Brampton in the 2019-20 budget, the Ford Conservatives voted it down, again showing disregard for Peel residents.
I have lived in Brampton my entire life. It hurts me that the community, which is so dear to me, too often gets short shrift from the provincial government. Brampton families deserve better. That’s why I’ll continue to fight for them, and for hospitals that meet their needs.
Sara Singh represents Brampton Centre in the Ontario Legislature, where she is a deputy leader of the 40 elected New Democrats, Official Opposition to Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives.
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