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Q&A: Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte candidates on health care

BarrieToday contacted Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte candidates to hear what they have to say on a series of topics ahead of Thursday's provincial election

Editor's note: BarrieToday contacted all of the candidates in the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) riding to hear what they have to say on a series of topics ahead of Thursday's provincial election. Each candidate was asked to provide a 150-word response. Here is what they had to say about health care. 

Elyse Robinson, Green:

First off, we can help people age in place with a $1.6B investment in home care to reduce the stress on our long-term care system.

We can also build 55,000 long-term care beds by 2033 and at least 96,000 by 2041 to meet growing demand and increase base funding for long-term care by 10 per cent. 

Regarding healthcare, we can increase year-over-year hospital base operating funding to a minimum of 5 per cent, work with the federal government to provide surge funding to reduce the backlog in surgeries, imaging, and other services, and increase options for primary care, such as community health centres and nurse-practitioner-led clinics. 

Lastly, we can immediately repeal Bill 124 and the problematic sections of Bill 106 to allow all health-care workers to bargain collectively for fair wages, and until then, provide a minimum hourly wage of $35 to registered practical nurses and $25 to personal support workers.

Beverley Patchell, NDP:

We will invest in preventative measures such as mental, dental, and pharmacare; repeal Bill124; launch a campaign to recruit, retain and return health care workers. 

Fix the crisis in senior care by taking profits out of home care and long-term care; restore hospital funding and making sure funding keeps up with inflation investing in hospital expansion.

Gerry Auger, Ontario Party:

​I would seek to have more practitioners from a broader spectrum of disciplines participate in the preventative care and treatment of patients, enabling MDs, to address pharmaceutical options to be considered for more acute and severe diagnoses and treatment options.

I would like to see physicians trained in naturopathic treatment methodologies as well or better yet create a collaborative treatment team in medical practices to form around a patient to include the naturopathic practitioners as possibly a first point of contact in the initial assessment of an intake case. 

I would expect this to free up doctors to address more urgent care cases to help reduce wait times at emergency rooms and have a daily debrief to review cases and determine whether an escalation in urgency should be considered.

Hayden Hughes, New Blue:

There are a lot of things in our health-care system that simply don’t work, and COVID-19 has magnified these issues.

One of these issues is the increasingly large number of backlogged procedures and another is understaffing. The first thing that should be done, which would significantly alleviate these issues, would be to rehire the health-care workers that were let go due to the mandates.

Hospitals, like RVH, as well as long-term care homes, should reverse their vaccine policy for workers so that those with decades of experience and personal relationships within the system are back where they belong.

This needs to be done prior to any increase in training and new-hiring because it is the most ethical way to ensure that these institutions are staffed properly and it will ensure our healthcare system has enough workers for the fall.

Jeff Lehman, Liberal:

The COVID-19 pandemic has been eye-opening to the gaps in our health-care and long-term care systems. It’s time to stop the creeping privatization of the health-care system and focus investments on supporting our dedicated health care workers.

An Ontario Liberal government will hire 100,000 new health-care workers – prioritizing full-time roles. We’ll also repeal the wage-capping Bill 124, so health-care workers are paid what they deserve.

For our seniors, we’ll focus on getting care closer to home – through home care for 400,000 seniors while also ending for-profit long-term care.

We’ll also work to innovate and re-imagine health care in Ontario through moving investments upstream to address the determinants of health.

I’ve seen first-hand how hospitalization alternatives can help communities through my foundational work on the Barrie Health Accord and I will continue to advocate for community-based solutions to health care at Queen’s Park.

Doug Downey, Progressive Conservative:

We are investing a historic $4.9 billion over four years to hire 27,000 new care staff, including PSWs, nurses and doctors-all staff the system desperately needed after years of neglect-and an increase in average daily direct care from 2.75 hours to 4 hours per resident, per day.

And to increase capacity and to build a strong and resilient health-care system, the government is investing $300 million in 2022-23 as part of the province’s Surgical Recovery Strategy, bringing the total investment to roughly $880 million since the start of the pandemic.

This investment will help in reducing surgical and diagnostic imaging backlogs from delayed or cancelled surgeries, reduce wait times, and support 150,000 additional hours of diagnostic imaging scans.

In BSOM, we’ve made investments across the board, including the creation of 278 new long- term care beds and 234 upgraded spaces in our riding.