It is time to focus on priority services 

By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady 

A survey released recently noted Ontarians strongly believe the Doug Ford government is poorly handling critical files like healthcare, senior care, and housing affordability. The Angus Reid survey was released four months into the Ford government’s second mandate.

 About 80 percent of survey respondents said the government performs poorly on the healthcare file. On the same day the survey was reported, London Health Sciences Centre said its adult emergency departments were experiencing wait times of 18 plus hours for non-urgent and non-emergent concerns. At the same time, a regional hospital began its forced shutdown of its ER until December, citing a staffing shortage.

Firstly, I’m not sure any emergency can wait 18 hours – is that an emergency? That being said, roughly 1.8 million Ontarians are without a family doctor. Secondly, it seems staffing is an issue across the province. Where have all our healthcare workers gone? I can speculate, but that is for another day. Regardless, it’s time to do everything possible to get all qualified frontline workers back on the job. 

Concerning senior care, about 77 percent of those who took the survey said the government is doing an abysmal job with the file. Locally, the sentiment is the same as it’s one of the things many people spoke to me about at local fairs. The services seniors need most are the ones most in crisis. For example, homecare is a disaster, and I am attempting to get to the bottom of it locally. 

With all due respect to the current government, Ontario didn’t get into these messes overnight. In my career, I’ve seen various leaders of all political stripes grapple with essential files like health care and education with little success. It’s been a slippery slope for years, but the pandemic not only highlighted the inadequacies but exacerbated them. These systemic inadequacies are not unique to Ontario but across the entire nation.

The truth is once we decided it was the government’s responsibility to look after these things, we essentially agreed to a funding model that has become unsustainable. More money is directed at these critical services every year with slight improvement – and, as we are seeing today, regression. 

Ontario’s 2022 budget will cost $198.6 billion; of that total, $75.2 billion will be spent on healthcare – nearly 38 percent of the entire budget. Ontario’s debt currently sits around $466 billion, with your share setting you back almost $32,000. Can government spend more? Yes, but are we willing to pay for it?

Is it time to invest only in vital services? Nobody likes to talk about cutting fat, but I will say that when those in the private sector do more with less, it’s deemed efficiencies; but in the public sector, it’s given the bad name of cuts. As mentioned earlier, we have lost frontline workers in every vital sector across the province – did we lose administration? Currently, we have too few frontline workers, too much administration and bureaucracy, and the systems of care are inefficient.

We are at a crossroads in Ontario as the problems we face are chronic, and the solutions are complex. However, it’s time we decide our priorities, as we cannot afford to be all things to all people. We must look beyond vote-getting and do the right thing for Ontario’s future. 

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk