Ford government remains silent after Brampton declares healthcare emergency

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On January 22, 2020, city council, a motion was brought forth to declare a healthcare emergency in the city of Brampton.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott have since remained silent on the issue.

After a unanimous vote at city council following a three-hour delegation from Concerned Ontario Doctors (COD), the city of Brampton officially declared a healthcare emergency.

The motion was brought forth by city councillor Harkirat Singh and seconded by Mayor Patrick Brown and requested immediate action and response from all healthcare system providers in order to properly address the city's urgent needs revolving around healthcare.

From incidents relating to “hallway healthcare” to Brampton’s healthcare system in desperate need of additional funding and long wait times in emergency rooms, Brampton residents continue to feel like their situations relating to healthcare are often overlooked.

Brampton has undertaken many initiatives in order to request more funding and support for the city's health care system including presenting them to Provincial and Federal representatives at annual conferences for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

By declaring a health care emergency in the city of Brampton, this motion was meant to get the help required to resolve the crisis by working with the William Osler Health System Foundation and the Ontario Government to grant urgent frontline healthcare funding to both Brampton Civic and Peel Memorial. 

Brampton’s health care system is in dire need of funding and support from the Provincial government. On behalf of Brampton City Council, we will not stand idly by," said Mayor Patrick Brown.

"We have officially declared a Health Care Emergency in Brampton, and we are requesting immediate action and response from all health care system providers to address our community’s urgent needs."

While Brampton is home to the busiest hospital in Canada, saying it is underfunded would be an understatement. 

According to COD, “Brampton receives the lowest healthcare funding per capita in Ontario, at nearly 40% of the provincial average and $937 per person annually in provincial healthcare funding, compared to the provincial average of approximately $2,000 per person annually.”

At 0.9 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, Brampton also has the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in both Ontario (2.3 beds per 1,000 residents) and Canada (2.5 beds per 1,000 residents),” added COD.

Although Brampton's only hospital has the capacity for 90,000 annual visits, it is seeing an average of 140,000 patient visits per year.

The only other healthcare facility in the City of Brampton is the Peel Memorial Site which is operating well above what it is funded for.

Andrea Horwath, NDP leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition recently stated, “Brampton’s Peel Memorial Urgent Care Centre is operating at a 587% volume compared to what it is funded for."

In her statement, Horwath also pointed out that while the province has announced investments in hospitals across the province, Brampton—which is where the term "hallway healthcare" was coined—has been continuously overlooked, adding that between July 2018 and August 2019, the government only created 21 beds making the waitlist grow by 2,800 people. 

During the delegation to City Council, Dr. Gill said, that the Brampton Civic Hospital is in constant “Code Gridlock,” a term coined to mean that patient needs exceed hospital resources, making these conditions dangerous for patients.

While cities close by have received healthcare infrastructure funding, such as Etobicoke, Mississauga and other regions in the province, The Ford government has not yet acknowledged Brampton’s escalating healthcare crisis and COD has labelled it “institutional racism.”

Brampton is the most grossly underfunded city in the province and is the most ethnically diverse city in Canada: people of colour represent 73% of its population,” said COD.

While the motion resolved that a Health Care Emergency be declared for the City of Brampton and that the CAO and appropriate city staff be requested to work with the William Osler Health System (WOHS), the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada to grant urgent frontline healthcare funding to Brampton Civic Hospital and Peel Memorial Centre, a change is yet to be seen.

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