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Candidates Q and A: Fixing healthcare

Candidates from the four major parties were asked to respond to questions about key issues in the upcoming provincial election

EloraFergusToday asked the candidates running for the four major parties in the Wellington-Halton Hills riding a series of questions about the upcoming election.  Responses were limited to 250 words. 

Tonight's question: 'What gaps in our healthcare system did you see during the pandemic and how would you fix them?'

Ted Arnott, Progressive Conservative

Our local health care is excellent, and we cannot say thank you enough to our health care workers for the extraordinary caring they have shown to get us through the pandemic. In the early days when so much was unknown, PPE was in short supply, and COVID-19 was running rampant in our nursing homes, they were magnificent. Two years later, even though many are exhausted, they continue to care for us.

Our new Groves Memorial Community Hospital opened in the summer of 2020, as the culmination of an amazing community effort which lasted almost two decades. I was glad to work with the hospital, the Township of Centre Wellington, the County of Wellington, many other community partners and local residents as together we saw the project from concept to completion.

The Guelph General Hospital has a catchment area that extends into the rural areas around Guelph, and as such serves many of our Wellington-Halton Hills residents. Recently, I worked with the staff of the Guelph General Hospital and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner to support the hospital’s application to the Provincial Government for renovations to their Emergency Department. Together, we advocated for the project, the Minister of Health listened, and she approved a $15 million grant. We are grateful for the Ministry’s support for this needed improvement to health care in our area.

As we recover from the pandemic, there is no place for politics as usual. MPPs need to listen, build consensus, work together and respond with principled leadership. Ontario will recover and prosper again.

Diane Ballantyne, NDP

It’s getting harder and harder for Ontarians to get the health care they need. Too many Ontarians wait hours at the ER, wait weeks for a doctor’s appointment, or spend weeks or months waiting in pain and anxiety for a surgery.

The pandemic exposed just how broken our healthcare system is, with nurses, doctors and other health professionals chronically short-staffed and run off their feet, unable to give patients the time and attention they need.

The Ontario NDP has a practical, doable plan to rebuild and strengthen health care in Ontario. We’re committed to making investments in critical services. Specifically we will

  • Bring in Universal, Publicly Funded Mental Health Care: We will expand access to counselling and therapy services across the province by bringing therapy services into OHIP.
  • Reduce the waitlist for children’s mental health to 30 days: We will implement the Make Kids Count Action Plan as laid out by the Children’s Health Coalition. 
  • CLEAR THE COVID-19 SURGICAL BACKLOG of nearly 20 million health care procedures in Ontario, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgeries, colonoscopies, and mammograms.
  • Take immediate action to begin hiring 30,000 nurses

Ryan Karho, Green Party

Almost half of Ontarians said their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began, and one in four Ontarians is currently seeking help. The greatest barriers people face in receiving treatment are access and affordability.

We know that mental health is not a “nice to have,” it is a “need to have.” We also know that decades of neglect of this critical aspect of our human heathy by successive governments and exacerbated by the pandemic has led to long wait times and insufficient funding and support.

Proper care should be available for everyone. Ontario Greens introduced a comprehensive mental health plan, “Building a More Caring Ontario,” that lays out a strategy to make mental health care more affordable, accessible, and comprehensive so anyone in this province can get the care they need when they need it.

While other parties wait for every problem to reach a crisis point before acting, Greens focus on solving problems at their source, before a crisis arrives.  Healthcare begins with ensuring everyone has access to healthy food and a healthy place to call home. 

Greens have a plan to focus on real healthcare, one that fixes issues at the source and respects doctors, nurses, PSWs and other health care workers by:

  • Prioritizing prevention in our healthcare system
  • Create a robust system of primary care
  • Invest in healthcare workers
  • Support strong hospitals
  • Protect Public Health
  • Fulfill remote and rural healthcare needs

Tom Takacs, Liberal

The shortages of ER spaces and hospital beds was fully evident during the pandemic. Access to primary care through family physicians and doctors’ offices was affected. The legislation to limit nurses’ salaries to 1% per year resulted in the resignations and premature retirements of thousands of experienced, highly-skilled nurses. Access to PCR testing was severely restricted later in the pandemic, which resulted in poor data about the actual impact of the virus and people left on their own to make the best decisions about their families. The disaster that occurred in long-term care homes resulting in over 400 deaths showed that the system needs major overhaul.